(Actually, our alarm was set for 1:30am, but as an elder millennial I couldn’t resist the Simpsons reference.)
Today we hiked the “Trois Salazes” with Adventures Reunion. This is going to be one of those nights where I stay up late waiting for photos to upload to WordPress, because boy was this a beautiful day. You can skip the words and just scroll to the bottom, I won’t be offended.
Anyways – the aforementioned alarm went off at 1:30, and we were in the car and on the road by 1:50. We woke up to pouring rain and were a bit worried that our day would be a washout, but even though Reunion is a small island, the weather varies dramatically across the land. So, we crossed our fingers and headed up the mountain.
Fans of rally racing will be familiar with night stages at the Monte Carlo Rally – imagine a Lancia Delta Integrale tearing up impossibly narrow mountain roads with a big light bar on the front. Now remove the lightbar and replace the Integrale with a 1.2 liter Renault Captur rental car. That’s basically what the drive was like. Here’s a snippet of a single 1 mile stretch.
After an hour and a half of that, I was a bit exhausted when we arrived at the trailhead at 3:30am. Kat was a bit carsick. So, let’s go hiking!
This was a group hike – a total of ten of us were participating. We were the only non-French speakers, though the crowd so diverse that it included both French 20-somethings and also Belgian 20-somethings. Luckily they mostly all secretly knew English, so we got to chat a bit.
We grabbed harnesses and helmets and hit the trail right after 3:30. The pace was quick, because we wanted to be up at the ridge line for sunrise. It was around 3 miles of hiking with 3500 feet of elevation gain, over just over 2 hours. Not a gentle stroll, but we made it. The sun rising over the valley below was absolutely stunning. As we crested the ridge, we could see the mountains on the other side turning orange as well.
Once we were at the ridge, we moved from hiking to some rope team alpinism. Everyone put on a harness, and we were chained together on a single rope, with about 10 feet between each hiker. This was a new experience for us, and not one we really loved – unless the group maintains exactly the same pace, you get tugged backwards and forwards. Getting suddenly jerked by the rope while making a tricky move on the rock isn’t an awesome feeling. I’ll take via ferrata over this!
Fortunately, we didn’t have to do a lot of rope team movement to reach the salazes. Once we got to the base of the pinnacles, our guide switched to belayer and we could climb our way up. The major activity at the top is to do a little mini zip line between two of the peaks. That also got us some of the best views of the day, with our feet dangling over the edge.
By the time the last person had crossed the gap, the clouds were moving in and it was time to get off the mountain. We did a series of rappels to avoid some of the rope team movement – one was about 40 meters, which was a lot of fun. We were the only people in the group with any climbing experience, but everyone did great – lots of really positive vibes all around.
This was one of the big experiences we’d scheduled the trip around, and it totally lived up to expectations. The weather was perfect, the people were friendly, and the views were unreal.
The rest of the day was pastries and reading, trying to stay up late enough to not totally wreck our sleep schedule. Rock and roll lifestyle.