9/10/2013 – GR20 Day 6 Petra Piana->Manganu according to Jamie
6.2 miles (10k), 2,400 feet gained (740m), 3,200 feet lost (980m), 5 hours
We were roused this morning by Edmond saying goodbye and the alarm going off at the same time after a somewhat sleepless night full of wind and hard sleeping pads in the rent-a-tent. We "slept" a little while longer, trying to avoid going out into the wind.
Eventually we rose and headed to the hut. We made the instant coffee we had bought the night before while munching on bread and jam (which was kindly provided for free by the refuge...at least we think). I began to get antsy when I looked outside and noticed how many people were on the trail north ahead of us. We packed up and began the trek uphill, still in the wind and the clouds.
We quickly made it to the ridge where we stayed for a good part of the morning. The crowds were unlike any we have experienced thus far. I anticipate that the north will be busier than the south full of people choosing to do the more "spectacular" half (having travelled the south I think they each have their charm). We also noticed a change in attitude. Less friendly "Bonjours." Maybe it is the north or maybe it is just the recent windy weather...we shall see as we continue. The ridge line was beautiful and we made good time as we were reluctant to stop and allow the crowds we had passed to pass us back. We encountered our first chain to climb though Ryan is proud he didn't have to use it. Hopefully he doesn't fall in the Cirque de la Solitude. Near the end of our climb for the day we ran into two Canadians from Vancouver. PNW! We should have asked them to look for our tent pole! We made it to the highpoint for the day and decided to push past the groups eating lunch and begin the descent.
Though long, it was not as hard as some previous days and either my feet have decided it isn't worth it to hurt or I have simply walked far enough to make them numb. I also have noticed my boots are finally softening up. It only took 3 years to break them in! We made it to a beautiful valley and although the refuge was basically in sight we decided to eat lunch since our crowd aversion had forced us to eat only a small bit of sausage and some shot blocks all day. We broke out the cheese from Bergerie de Tolla and it was delicious! Best cheese so far. The rest of the hike was easy and we arrived at Manganu sooner than expected. We acquired our tent, some snacks, booked dinner, and couldn't pass up ordering breakfast for the next morning...we want butter! Setting up the 2 second Quechea tent was quite enjoyable and we are starting to enjoy these tents for hire. I took a freezing cold shower but it is still nice to not be sticky. After counting our euros to make sure we can make it through the next few days we grabbed a bottle of wine, which we are indulging in now as I write, and hung out on the porch. Sometime before dinner, while I was napping, Jasper and Nienke showed up and surprised Ryan...they had doubled up from L'Onda and arrived as it began to pour. They were pretty exhausted so Ryan brought Nienke to our tent to nap with me while Ryan and Jasper enjoyed more wine. Ryan also ate way too much Ziti at dinner and couldn't fall asleep until 11pm. I was resting up for another double day tomorrow.