Yay! I made it half way. The Col Grand St. Bernard is generally recognized as halfway from Canterbury to Rome. By my reckoning, I’ve traveled 1,030 km and have 1,007 km to go.
The weather forecast for today was not brilliant, calling for showers in the afternoon, so I left early from Orsieres to try and beat the rain, with a plan to pause in the village of Bourg St Pierre to reassess. BSP is the usual overnight stop on the way to the pass. I covered the 14km to BSP in about three hours, and after assessing the weather and the appeal of spending the rest of the day there, I decided to continue up the hill. The only signs of life in the town were the two gas stations on the road. There didn’t appear to be any other commercial activity in the village, so I’m not sure where pilgrims normally eat.
The stretch to the top was a mere 11km, but really tough ones! The yellow sign said 4 hours, which I don’t think include stops. It was tough going, with much of this section being an Alpine hiking trial, on which it was hard to get any rhythm. Also hard to catch your breath at times, but with frequent stops to admire the scenery, it wasn’t too exhausting. That said, the last couple of km were really tough even though the hospice at the pass was within view. This is the only section of the trail where you are on sections of the ‘road’ that pre-dates motor vehicles.
Not long after I had done the essentials -shower, laundry, beer – the weather closed in and not only did the mountains vanish, but there was a deluge. It would not have been pleasant to be out in it! Wandering the corridors of the hospice, I bumped into Petra. Petra started her journey from her home in Holland, and connected with the VF in Besançon. I met P yesterday in Orsieres – she was having a beer with the Kiwis D & B, so I joined them. Four pilgrims at the same table was quote a gathering! Petra usually camps, but together we were the only two occupants of the Auberge. When I left this morning, her plan was to Bourg St Pierre, but like me, upon arrival there, she figured it would be worth the extra effort to go to the pass. The hospice here at Grand St Bernard seems very busy, but as there are so few pilgrims on the trail, it is hard to know where they have all come from – unless they are using this as their starting point (it is the weekend after all).
Today’s km: 26.6
Net altitude gain: 1,558 metres. Gross gain according to my app was 2,506m, but not sure how accurate this is. There were slot of downhill sections, but not sure they would have amounted to 1,000 metres (although my legs tend to agree with the 2,506 number!)