We are approaching our final 2 weeks of guests but at least at this stage we are now able to deal with an exclusion diet of no dairy, gluten or added sugar alongside someone else feeling a need to reject animal flesh. However, next week we have 15 people in a 14 person chalet! At least it is the owners and their friends so the lack of a 15th chair shouldn’t be a problem.
Spring has certainly sprung and our long-awaited big dump of snow for the season is looking somewhat unlikely. The cyclists are queueing up to ascend the famous 21 bends (for some ludicrous reason judging by the state of them as the toil past the chalet or bus stop between their penultimate and final hairpin). It is a little strange to see them cross the finish without any fanfare apart from their own internal satisfaction beaming from their puce sweaty visages.
The dandelions and crocuses have decided it is safe enough to emerge from their hibernation even though the chance of further snow hasn’t disappeared altogether. The dawn chorus wakes us from our slumbers before the abuse of the alarm. We have to sleep with the windows open as don’t seem to be able to turn the heating down, just off or on and being north facing, off isn’t an option just yet! It is full daylight as we leave the building at 7am for our morning shift and today a shaft of sunlight lit up the terracotta rooftops of Huez village, down at bend 6, as it radiated along the Sarenne Gorge. This will all revert this weekend as the clocks change back but I will not be upset to observe the sunrises again, displaying a fabulous vista, about which I hope I never become complacent.
The heat is back in the sun, people are skiing in T-shirts which is super for them but not reflecting good maintainance of snow conditions, it is getting very slushy in the afternoons. South facing hillsides are almost bare whilst northern aspects retain a significant amount of snow. These photos, taken riding the ‘scarechair’ into Sarenne gorge illustrates this dichotomy. There is a distinct difference between the snow available at the end of the season compared to the beginning. Early on we have to wait for the depth to build up before it is skiable whereas at the end of the season, the pistes are so compressed that they become the last to melt, cutting white ribbons through the broken and bent brown grass as it tries to reassert itself.
The line to admit defeat and take off the skis when coming back to the apartment block is retreating. It is still desirable to get as close as possible to reduce the amount of arduous walking in ski boots but perhaps when one reaches the end of the snow is a little late, as I found out to my cost. I had side slipped down the path until my ski tip stuck in some mud. I think it must have been weariness from the ski session we had just completed but I didn’t seem to be able to keep my balance. Rather than fall uphill into the thin but white snow, I managed to fall the opposite way, head down into the mud, in my newly washed salopettes! Not cool. But then neither was falling off a button lift for the first time in years! It would have been better if I hadn’t drawn more attention to myself by shouting at Roger. He was in front of me so didn’t see my ungainly dismount but we were headed up for our habitual chocolate chauds and frites on Signal. I was going to have to ski back down and get the lift up again so wanted him to go in and get the order but he didn’t manage to hear me although everyone on the adjacent chairlift did!
Anyway, at least we can enjoy the beautiful blue skies and glorious sunshine if the snow does melt away, not to be replenished this season. We are able to appreciate being in the chalet and are actually grateful for some of the shade that the roof overhang affords the balcony now that the sun is so high in the sky. Perhaps for longer than expected as we have been offered to stay on for another week or so to relax (and close it down, although that’s not too arduous). 4 months of working 6 days a week at an average of 45 hours per week, on our feet and on the go for most of that time, as well as exhausting ourselves further by skiing in our spare time, has meant that a rest will be very welcome, particularly with a freshly cleaned hot tub! We will be having a chat with the owners when they are out next week about next season. We aren’t decided yet but at least in a position to consider it!