A hiking adventure is never the same experience, even when you go to the same places.
French adventure photographer and filmmaker Aurélien Chantrenne grew up in Mont Blanc valley in France climbing mountains.
He’s climbed mountains in 60 countries but keeps coming back to the French Alps for more outdoor adventures.
There’s one place in particular.
One of the places he comes back to is Haute-Savoie, France.
He went there again with a few other hikers and they had an unexpected companion join them while they were resting on the ridge.
She’s shy but friendly. She eats a lot but only in the morning or night.
She’s also a furry little creature that weighs about 5kg. Can you guess what she is?
She’s an Alpine Marmot!
While Aurélien and the other hikers were resting on the ridge, this furry little marmot came out of her burrow and joined them in the Alps.
At first, she just looked at them but came closer and closer.
Aurélien was lying on the grass when the marmot came up to him.
“She started to lick my hand, arm and actually kept going. So what did I do?” Aurélien said. “I just laid down. And she began to come closer and closer until she licked my whole face. It’s a quite strange feeling.”
The marmot licked his nose first then went up to his forehead.
And she wasn’t stopping.
She kept licking, especially since he wasn’t moving and he was staying still.
And even though she started to lick his eyes as well, at no point did Aurélien feel like the marmot was going to attack him.
In fact, he believed she might just be hungry.
Marmots, after all, are known to only come out of their burrows when they’re about to feed themselves.
Dedicated to the task
At one point, she brought her head up and stood at attention for a second before continuing to lick Aurélien.
When she didn’t stop licking his face, Aurélien laid his head down on the grass so they were both comfortable.
It worked for the marmot because she even placed her paw on the corner of his mouth so she can reach the far side of his face.
Because she was coming out of hibernation, she was looking for mineral salts. And she found Aurélien and his salty face.
“I think that’s why she was licking my arms and face,” Aurélien guessed “She was just feeding on salt!”
And when she was done, she placed her front paws on Aurélien’s face and held her head high, as if to say, “Victory!”
She stepped away from Aurélien and started to hunt for her food.
An unforgettable moment
This is an experience that may not happen again, especially for Aurélien. And he wanted to soak it up and remember it for a lifetime.
“It’s nice to think that the animal can also see us as an animal without fear. To think that ultimately, humans are part of nature and nature comes to nature,” Aurélien shared
. “It’s really very comforting.”
Aurélien has another great French Alps memory to add to his bank and he hopes the marmot feels the same way, too.
See this marmot maul a hiker with love in the video below!
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