It had been two days since we had last seen a shop. Acutely aware of the need to compromise between having enough to eat and keeping our pack weight down, we had bought sparingly for the five days ahead; a decision that we now regretted.
“We got any bread?” Jake said, two hours after leaving camp.
“We’ve had our rations for the morning already,” I lamented, feeling my stomach moan at the thought of waiting any long.
“How did we get it so wrong? We’ve been on the path for five months. We should have known better.”
With straining eyes I glared up at the trail ahead. Winding through a landscape of broken rubble and sparse, woody shrub, the track climbed steeply to the Col de Fenestre, a craggy dip in the skyline connecting France with Italy. “Maybe we could have a little jam?” I offered desperately. “I’m running out of energy.”
Escaping the wind, we huddled between two large rocks and pulled the pot of jam from my pack. It was a distressing moment. Feeding tiny spoonfuls of sugar into my mouth, I was sure that I was swallowing more dust from the dry air than I was food. I began to worry about the coming days, and as Jake screwed the lid back onto the pot, I could see that he too was concerned.
“Right,” Jake said suddenly, after several minutes of silence, “we’ve got two options.” Scrambling abruptly to his feet, I could see that Jake had made a decision. “Either we turn back and retrace our steps, something I certainly don’t want to do, or we quit feeling sorry for ourselves and push on. I vote we keep moving. There are people in this world far worse off than us.”
“You’re right.” Adopting Jake’s enthusiasm, I pushed off the rock and stood up into the wind. Without another thought, we slung on our packs, rediscovered the trail, and made decisively for the Italian border.