Rice! This is luxury! I relax against the construction hut and empty by bowl. After last week's diet -- cereal in the morning, ramen in the evening -- a pot of rice warmed over seems like the best meal we have ever had. But weight is a problem, so we dispense with everything that contains lots of water or requires prolonged cooking (and thus a lot of gas).

Tomorrow will be our great day: we will ascend the Haut Glacier d'Arolla to Col Collon, the pass that shall bring us to Italy.

However, we have decided not to travel much farther to the south. The break during our first week has cost us a few days, so Milan is out of the question anyway. Moreover, no-one is really interested in a hike through the plains. Instead, we will turn to the east in Italy, then return to Switzerland.

I take in the Plans de Bertol, a narrow valley between Mont Collon and Douves Blanches. It is a lonely place, and now as the sun is setting, I have a weird feeling: it is almost as if were are the last humans, travelling through a Mad Max-like desert, concrete ruins from a fallen civilisation poking through the ground. In reality, we are simply looking at the visible parts of a vast array of lakes and canals belonging to a hydroelectric plant.

Around here, happiness is a warm sleeping bag, a bowl of rice, and a few square metres of level ground to lie down on.

Les Haudères already seems an eternity away; although it is just 10 km as the crow flies, and 1000 metres vertical, it has been the last bit of civilisation before the great wilderness that is the southern main ridge of the Alps. For the first time since beginning our trek, we are travelling for several days without seeing a small town or at least a large village. The bags of pre-cooked rice that have been weighing in my pack since then are now gone.

Tomorrow, it will be instant noodles again.

There are more pictures at bei Smugmug, and this text has a predecessor.

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