On Tuesday, we started at 8 and unlike the previous day, there was no warmup. Started uphill right away. I kept up with the rest of the group for a while and then started slowing down. There was a guide in the front and one in the back and the one in the back slowed down, also. The trail was relatively well marked but I guess they wanted to keep an eye on me. The group would take several breaks, take off their backpacks, rest, eat some fruit, chocolate or nuts and I would catch up to them at these breaks. There were people at varying levels of conditioning and there were points where are group was stretched over a long distance. I was told that I was never more than 10 minutes behind the last person. I think they were being kind. Lunch was at a hut. Most of us had spaghetti instead of the soup. This was the only time that spaghetti was available for lunch. It looked very different than what we are used to – more brown rather than red – but tasted great.
After lunch we continued on our climb and this time I took up the rear. I didn’t even try to keep pace, this time. Eventually, we got to the top of the mountain and were met by a horde of kids. Evidently, some school was having a field trip and according to the guides this was pretty common. We rested and enjoyed the views. Took some pictures and then started heading downhill. Evidently, this area saw a lot of battles during WWI. We saw a lot of stone buildings that had been used during WWI.
It seemed like most people liked going uphill better than downhill. I was the opposite. I shot downhill. It must have been around 6 (This is here I wish I had kept notes) when we got to the hut where we were going to spend the night. Just outside the hut we saw an outhouse. It was slightly downhill. The door was open and you could see the squat toilet. There were several of us in the front and we came to stop at the site of this toilet. All of us said, surely this is not the only toilet! I am thinking, this is going to be hard to navigate in the dark. It turns out that it wasn’t. The toilets were in the hut and they were the normal kind but God, did they stink.
There were actually two huts. One had rooms only and the second had the kitchen, dining and some more rooms. Each room and two bunk beds. You got a blanket and a pillow and two paper sheets. Thankfully, I had brought a sleeping bag liner. I had not brought a towel but someone mentioned that you needed one the previous day. So, before heading to dinner, I had walked over to a nearby store and bought a towel that was about twice the size of a wash cloth. Ummm, it wasn’t large enough.
There were rooms both upstairs and downstairs, a men’s and women’s toilet on each level and a men’s and women’s shower upstairs. You had to take your boots off in the outer room and from that point on wear slippers. They hut provides public slippers but I had brought my own flip flops. The rooms had no heating and it was starting to get nippy. I went upstairs to take a shower. Men’s was taken and I am not proud to say that I jumped in the women’s. Quick shower, dressed while I was still wet and made a dash for the dinner hut as the women looked for pitchforks and rope.