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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Roman Lopez

Around Monte Rosa (III) - Day 2 Zermatt to Gressoney

4 eggs were left from yesterday’s groceries. I cook them scrambled in butter with cheese, chopped tomatoes and leek. To top it up, a piece of flatbread full of sesame and sunflower seeds. What a wonderful breakfast! I do cover all meals with R insulin – even if it is before running for almost 10h!

From today on I am covering ‘known territory’. It is fascinating to walk through the same place twice and notice how accurate or inaccurate our geographical memory is. Even more defining are the subjective emotions we previously experienced ‘this part felt hard’ or ‘uh, that was a great downhill’ or ‘here is where it started raining last year’. Sometimes that first judgement gets confirmed, others the same spot feels like two different worlds. Tiredness, motivation, mood, weather… everything plays a role in how we experience a journey.

I take off at 8:30 from Zermatt train station. I must run through the stretched village before reaching the trails. Rich people walking their fancy dogs; workers about to open the shops; skiers on their way to the cable-car. How comical, we both head to the same place. One thing is for sure, the skiers will get there faster. I laugh at my own thoughts. Zermatt to Theodulpass (the border between Switzerland and Italy) comprises 1700m of relentless uphill and stunning views of Cervino.

It snowed two days ago, a reminder of all the many small things that could send me home without completing the loop around Monte Rosa. It turns out to be icy up to the Gandegghütte. The hut is closed for the summer. I sit on the sunny terrace and take a bite of my protein bar while remembering the massive rösti – a traditional potato-based swiss dish - I devoured last year at this same spot. Mental note, check the blood glucose curve of that day!

The stretch between the hut and the pass follows a glacier moraine first, and the glacier itself later on. I have a ‘watery’ memory from last year. The glacier slope was like a pool and my shoes would get soaked at every step! I am mentally ready for the dip into the ice. Instead I win the lotto! A perfect hard surface saving me a lot of time and effort. Over to Italy! I more or less remember the direction to take. Yet. I want to profit as much as possible from the snow fields to loose meters fast.

Zermatt has, in my opinion, a big ‘amusement park’ flair. The Italian side of Matterhorn is much rawer. The same applies to the hiking paths – we sometimes call swiss paths ‘highways’ :-) I am glad to leave civilisation behind. Soon enough comes the first long downhill of the day. Time to switch from podcast o playlist mode!

Once at the valley bottom the next milestone is the Rifugio Ferraro. Last year I slept here, which gives a new angle to the remaining kilometres. Today I quickly fill up my water bottles and keep going. The spirits are high and I hope to stretch this patch as much as possible. The uphill is gentle, sometimes too gentle. It takes forever to gain height. However, I am fascinated listening to a podcast about the link between metabolic health and cancer.

At this time of the day there are no people left in the upper parts of the valleys. I like it. That, together with a vague memory of a fun & short downhill to Gressoney, motivates me to speed up. In my head, dreaming with the upcoming dinner. We are in Italy, expectations are in order! A rock-fall forces a detour adding 3k just before reaching the village. It drives me mad. Getting mad about the detour makes me get mad at myself! It’s cold and windy. I just want a hot shower and food!

It turns out Gressoney-la-Trinite is a tiny mountain village mostly shut down at this time of the year. The ‘supermarket’ is a 5 square meter shop. Carbohydrates everywhere! I buy a lemon. After checking 3 restaurants it becomes obvious eating before 7pm is daydreaming. Argggg I make the call to deviate and order a pizza base with tomato sauce and smoked ham. Luckily it’s early enough to squeeze a double bolus before bedtime. The BG spike is pronounced but not dramatic. I am cheating for the first time after 6 months without grains. The mental burden makes it not worth it under normal conditions. Today is different. I also enjoy discussing the experiment with Jon and Ian – two fellow sporty & nerdy type one gritters.

My room is a mess with all the gear and clothes spreading all over. I don’t care. Good night.

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