Day 6: Valfréjus to Rifugio I Re Magi
There was only one other person in the dorm but of course this was a snorer. After the previous day’s invigorating climb we felt like we could hardly stand, let alone climb the almost 1000 m up to the Col de la Vallée Étroite. This was all in the mind though, because we actually made very good time. The path was more like a dirt road or 4wd track most of the way, but there were some good views of Mont Thabor with the Refuge de Mont Thabor just beneath it. We’d originally planned to stay there that night but it when we called them they said they were fully booked for a week, so we had to continue on to the next refuge. Hence our decision to continue on to Valfréjus on day 5.
The Col de la Vallée Étroite used to be the border between France and Italy. Now it’s the border between Savoie and Haute-Alpes. It’s also the border between “this is a nice hike” and “oh bloody hell there are cows everywhere”. I hate cows. They are evil, vicious animals who would like nothing better than to trample innocent hikers. For the record, my mum agrees with me and she’s always right (except in those rare cases when she disagrees with me).
These particular cows seemed to be more like aurochs with horns larger than my backpack. Needless to say, our descent down into the valley was quick. It also started to rain, so we had lunch under a convenient overhanging rock. The descent itself is fairly straightforward with just a couple of short steep sections on loose rock. Down in the Vallée Étroite there are two refuges, or actually rifugios, since these are Italian. They still speak Italian in the valley, but the staff spoke some French too. The meal was very Italian too, with antipasti, polenta and tiramisu for dessert, and about half a litre of vin du table (made from real tables).
We slept in a very weird dorm. It was like a basement that someone had converted into a crazy cat lady’s apartment. The beds were here and there in weird alcoves and there was just one tiny window. Plus three different snorers.