Haute Route Day 8 – Mayens de Motau to Col du Sorebois – Deck with a View Camp to Cow Pride Rock Camp
Kilometers hiked: 16-ish
Total Kilometers: 247
Haute Kilometers: 105.5
Quiche slices consumed: 2
Baby bull hearts broken: 4, at least
In continuing with tradition, I woke up to a beautiful morning in the Alps, surrounded by friends. Gryllz was already awake and drawing something in her journal, Spice was snuggling deep in her bright orange quilt, and Alamo was dead to the world. He’d wake up last, but still be ready to go literally hours before anyone else. That dude was born to be trash. Like the last few days, condensation dampened our camp with fat drops, though not enough for anyone to care. People finished their morning chores, Gryllz drawing, me writing, Spice reading, and Alamo sleeping, then dug deep into food bags, optimistically searching for something special. Granola, peanut butter, and bag cake. Our spot stayed shaded from the rising sun by the cabin behind us for a long time, but we still managed to linger long enough to dry our stuff. It seemed like each of us took a 15-minute poop break. Easy come, easy go. We were back on the trail, hiking up, at 10am.
The moist pasture was steamy under the already hot sun. Our trail, slick with manure, climbed steeply by a chill group of snotty cows. They chewed and stared. We sweated and stared back. A short while later after passing some dairy huts, we had had enough of the heat and our stinky clothes so we plunked down in a small stream for a group laundry session. Mountain bikers courteously dismounted as they approached, then flew away over the grassy horizon. Clean-ish and cool, we shouldered packs to finish the climb up to our next pass.
A couple more grassy benches, each with its own crucifix, wandered by. Spice and I talked about our favorite pasta and slurpees as we moved onto rockier trail that switchbacked up the final few hundred feet. Alamo seemed to be broken, imitating a slow motion running style. However, we all made it safe and sound to Col du Tsate(2868m). The pass was a sharp, rugged saddle in a ridge of sharper and more rugged rocks. We had ascended gentle grassy hillside for the most part, but the drop down the east side was a little bit trickier, with slidy dirt and gravel. The group broke here, Alamo and Gryllz moving on quickly to reach warmer pastures below, followed then by Spice. I took birddog and had some fun glissading down the long tongue of snow next to the trail. Back in grassy wildflower country in a jiffy. I caught up with the others at a small and busy lake.
After a bit of a seated dance session #selfie, we got moving for another drop over a grassy bench to a silty lake and parking lot below. Here we dropped our packs for a quick run up and back to Cabane de Moiry #moirymaurypovich, a highly recommended hut with supposedly a tremendously close view of a tremendously spectacular icefall. Alamo and I left the others, who were not so enthusiastic about the extra effort and would take their time, to fly up the trail, unhindered by our packs. The trail was busy with day hikers, but we made great time along the ridge of the lateral moraine. An extremely steep climb up rocky switchbacks brought us to the cabane. The effort was worth it and the toilets were good. We gawked from the deck at the chaos of ice that tumbled from well above us to well below us. Not wanting to keep the others waiting, nor to let the threatening clouds start raining on us we peaced out after munching down the snacks we brought along.
And wouldn’t you know it, we met Spice and Gryllz five minutes below the hut, just as it was starting to spit rain. We continued down, they continued up, the rain continued. Quickly down the speckled switchbacks past some gorgeous dogs, a slip down a snowfield, a ride back along the ridge of moraine, then an easy stroll back to the packs after one wrong turn. Happy to find our packs right where we left them, filled with the right things in them, Alamo and I settled in to read and write in one of the last patches of sun. Spice and Gryllz showed up 30 minutes later, giddy and giggling. They had clearly been having a good time, and maybe too much coffee and sugar as well. Turns out the coffee and brownies are good at Moiry. They brought back some quiche too, and a promise to share it with us at dinner. Nice.
Next up was some easy roadwalking along the shore of Lac de Moiry. Even the dark clouds couldn’t extinguish the brilliant glow from the deep turquoise waters of the reservoir. Despite both being silty from glacial rock pummeling, for some reason Lac des Dix was a cappuccino brown while Moiry could not have been more blue. Different rock, I guess. I was mentally tired and escaped 50 yards ahead of the others to listen to some tunes and clear my mind #madness. The gap slowly closed as I became curious of conversation once again. Easy walking, good jokes, we’re at the end of the lake. Thunder rumbled above as light rain started to fall, then stopped. We filled up our water bottles and started the climb through more pastured hillside to Col de Sorebois, 600 meters above. 7:15pm. Our goal was to camp on the pass, but the weather was going to need to do some major clearing to make that work.
But more immediately dangerous to our health than the lighting high above, appeared to be our escort of baby bulls. For some reason they didn’t take a liking to us, or maybe liked us too much, or maybe they just liked Spice’s cowbell too much. Whatever it was, we skipped and skirted our way through an unpredictable mass of angry-looking veal, none of us admitting that we were actually scared (just a little bit). We survived this strange encounter unscathed, and kept ascending into the worsening storm, leaving the mass of mooing below.
It is with great pleasure that I say we’re not total idiots. The rain had all but ceased, but with thunder still pummeling our eardrums, we nixed the thought of sleeping on the pass. Not this time. A few hundred vertical feet below, we found an excellent grassy shoulder protruding from a small saddle. This would be home. Not exactly protected, but not the highest point around either. From there we had an excellent view back up the valley to our gem of a lake as well as a nuts panorama of jagged peaks across the other side. Turmoil all around us added to the epic feel of this perch so it seemed only fitting to dub this place Cow Pride Rock. One could imagine calves being introduced to the world here, or maybe trashy hikers being sacrificed to whatever gods cows worship.
As it was now 8pm, with our priorities straight, we all sat together for an overdue dinner. We munched, then munched some more. Quiche gone. Alamo and Gryllz got tired of munching when the rain picked up again and set up their tent before bundling in. Spice and I kept munching, using my umbrella as a shield, either optimistic that things would clear enough for a risky cowboy, or just lazy. Although conditions did not clear, we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets that I care to imagine. Because the vast valley was actually filled with rain, the orange glow from the sun gave the air substance. Rather than just seeing color splashed on distant mountains or clouds, we were swimming in orange Gatorade. Peanut butter and cookies evaporated while we watched sheets of rain move all around us. Thunder continued to crackle from the ridge above. Finally, when it was just dark enough to be a pain in the ass, we gave up waiting and set up the tarp. The rain stopped 15 minutes later. You know what? That’s okay.
Interestingly, Spice noticed today that we have been getting further away from the Matterhorn since day 4. Very very interesting. What the heck Kev?