Chamonix can’t sit still.
Early morning, late August. The sun edges over a toothy skyline and the movement starts. There’s a whir of bike pedals, the drip of water from yesterday’s rafting wetsuits, the panting of a dog on its early morning run.
Chamonix is an anomaly. It’s a village that’s huge, a peace that pulses with life. A Cham day is thwacking tennis balls, click-clacking crampons, and raft paddles smacking the river Arve.
It’s cafe-goers arriving by running, toddlers pedaling their own bikes, paragliders whooping their way across the sky just to say “hey” and just because they can.
After a day of sweat and sunscreen and mountain peaks, the sky turns orange. The temperature sinks down and the puffy jackets zip up. There’s the clomping of dirt-covered hiking boots, the clink-cheers-clink of a post-mountain beer, the “bonne nuits” and the “good nights,” and the stars that spear the sky. From bed, you close your eyes and the night air chills your lungs and the river whooshes you to sleep. Bliss.
Then, the movement begins again. The sun lazes through your window and your eyes curl open and the river’s still rolling; then it’s the clattering coffee mug and the crunch of a baguette crust and the zip of your running shoe’s laces and the movement keeps on keeping on.
Is Chamonix peaceful? Yes.
Still? Most definitely not.
[Editor’s Note: This week, as the UTMB festival of races center around the European Alps town of Chamonix, France, we’re bringing you daily dispatches from photojournalist Kirsten Kortebein. Our goal is to document the global community that trail running brings together in Chamonix. Thanks to Jaybird for sponsoring these dispatches.]