The hike kicked our ass immediately. We walked straight up an exposed mountainside, a luscious green hill whose beauty barely masked its intensity. As we rose higher and higher, huffing and puffing the entire way, we passed cows with bells around their necks and patches of leftover snow.
The brave ones from our group (not me) climbed up the side of a cliff to the scary summit to touch the cross on top of the mountain. After that, we were patting ourselves on the back. The hardest part was over...or so we thought.
That's when the hike went downhill—literally. The hill was so steep that I was basically crab-walking it on the way down. The trail kept disappearing on us, and after a while, we realized we were in the wrong valley.
We bumped into a farmer who said we probably missed the trail because it was covered in snow, something that happened all the time. He kindly gave us some water and guided us on how to get back. "It's not a nice walk," he told us, and it wasn't. We had to duck electrical fences, walk through a soggy swamp, lunge up a vertical hill, walk through a cow pasture, then finally limp down a long knee-killing decline, the majority of which was spent slapping mosquitoes off our arms, legs and back. When it was all said and done, we had hiked 8.9 miles in 6 hours, up and over two mountains, extending our original hiking plans by about two hours. Where we ended was not where we began, so Dan and Julien had to trek another mile or so to pick up the cars.
Les Cornettes de Bise, France