Hello to all my readers from warm and sunny Nice!
I know what you’re thinking–Nice? Weren’t you going to Monaco? Well. After finally winding my way through Liguria, down through the hanging villages of southern France and at last arriving on the Mediterranean Sea, I arrived at the final destination of the Red Trail, Monaco, where I had intended to spend a day blogging and relaxing.
When I was traveling in Georgia, I learned an interesting word that entered Russian from English and is now being adopted by English speakers called ‘face control.’ This is the term used to describe a standard that certain clubs or bars have as a required minimum of good looks so that only beautiful people can enter their establishment. Now imagine an entire city that seems to have adopted this standard and is intent on creating an atmosphere of reckless spending. Further imagine, walking into this city, a sweaty, greasy, grimy backpacker in bare feet because his toes are blistering from the summer heat with long hair in a messy half-braid that has been frayed by the wind and a deep farmer’s tan compounded by the fact that he hasn’t showered for weeks who is dead set on thrift. These two strangers mixed about as well as oil and water, and after taking a few pictures and having a burger, I decided it was time for me to leave. There was only one problem–getting maps was an absolute requirement, and Monaco is far too rich a city to be bothered with trivialities like Internet cafes, so I found myself taking a bus into Nice to get some maps, and thus, am here.
Following my time in the Hot Springs at Leukerbad, I made my way west to the famed Mont Blanc before beginning a long trek south along the Piedmont range. As I headed south, one evening at the end of the day, I met a doctor named Matthieu. As we chatted, we realized that we had a lot in common and hike together for the first part of the following day. In the afternoon, we parted ways over a few beers, but this was a very enjoyable experience and set in motion a series of lovely encounters with a variety of people. Every day, it seemed that I found myself chatting for an hour or two with someone else, sometimes over coffee, over dessert, maybe a drink. All in all, a very pleasant experience.
The trail through here also follows a network of trails that are much more popular as a long-distance adventure known as the Grande Traversee des les Alpes, so it is generally much more maintained and better marked than the eastern portion of the trail. Furthermore, the Piedmont is a very dry region, so I have had far less rain than what I have come to expect on the trail. This has created a very enjoyable hiking experience, albeit one that has resulted in a generally slower hike.
One final thought: When I was on the Appalachian Trail, I met a guy who told me:
“There are times I’ve rolled into a shelter thinking about the trail register and feeling WITTY!! Then I get there. Dot. Dot. DOT.”
I hope you understand the brevity of this post.
Thanks for reading!
Daniel “Cloudwalker” Liu