15th-17th July 2007
Following an annual hiking tradition which began some 35 years ago, four old friends (and also old school friends) set off in brilliant sunshine to find the famous GR5 trail, south of Contamines on the western flank of Mont Blanc.
This trail travels all the way through the northern Alps to the Mediterranean.
The trek was organised by Brian Wreford, with fellow trekkers being John Hewett, Jonathan Garner and John Murgatroyd. John Hewett’s wife Janet suggested collecting sponsorship for the event, in order to make a donation to CRY in memory of the Hewett’s son Simon, who died suddenly aged 31.
Three days and two nights later, they arrived at Bourg St Maurice, a couple of hours’ along the Isere river from Ballentre, more or less on schedule, decidedly worse for wear, but otherwise unscathed.
In between, four Cols had been ascended and descended – all over 8000 feet tall. Most notably, the Col du Bonhomme on the first day and the massive Col de Bresson on the second. Chamois and marmots had been clearly sighted, and wonderful alpine flower displays had been observed.
Also they managed to get themselves completely lost – they thought – and retraced their steps only to find they weren’t lost at all. They had just mistaken a sign for a village (which was nowhere to be seen) as a sign giving the distance to it, when in fact it actually showed the altitude of the village above sea level (2000 metres). Local knowledge is a wonderful thing!
Overnight stays were at the relatively sophisticated Refuge du Col de la Croix de Bonhomme, with their own room and duvets; and the simple but lovely Chalet de la Balme where mattresses and blankets were the order of the day.
At a twilight game of boules England actually beat France, much to the surprise of the French!
We had been blessed with fine weather all the way in a poor alpine summer. Our friendships were as firm as ever in spite of the usual disputes and disagreements among the banter, and we had reached terra firma in the form of our hotel providing a long hot bath and a proper bed with real genuine sheets to help sooth away our aches and pains.
The decision to go for sponsorship was made late in the day, but all four randonneurs are glad that they did it, and that they did it for CRY. £500 was raised for CRY.