Looking for a path away from the post-Super Bowl blues? Check out our short slide show from the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Posts Tagged With: Tour du Mont Blanc
What a treat it was to enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning, knowing that we had only a short walk back to Chamonix, the starting and finishing point of our Tour du Mont Blanc. Plenty of time for a second cup of coffee!
We peeked out our curtain this morning with fingers crossed. The sky was gray, but dry. Perfect! We dashed down to breakfast at 7:00 am, eager to get an early start. We walked through a mostly deserted Champex, guidebook in hand, searching for our trail.
We anticipated a bit of a climb today, as we've had every day, and wanted to beat any change of weather over the col. Our day began easily, meandering through meadows and along a wide track through the forest. That soon came to an end and we found ourselves steeply climbing up and sloshing across roaring streams of snowmelt.
Today, our seventh day of walking and our eighth day on the Tour du Mont Blanc, the trail led us 8,300 feet up and over the Grand Col Ferret and down into Switzerland. It was quite a climb!
Our first two hours of walking delivered us to Refugio Elena, strategically nestled into the hillside and sporting a spectacular view of the Glacier de Pré de Bar. Coffee on the deck and then it was time to push ahead.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is taking us to dizzying heights, testing us every step of the way. It hasn't been easy, but it continues to reward us.
We've met some wonderful people on our journeys. It's one of the things we like most about trekking.
We met Dutch teachers Micah and Anna last night in La Vachey. This afternoon we walked to our destination of La Fouly together, the (mostly) gentle downhill allowing for easy conversation.
It was “ciao” to Courmayeur, Italy today after a day of rest in the Alps resort city. The Tour du Mont Blanc has been more than challenging for us, so we needed the break.
Walking into a new country was a new experience on Saturday. We heard “buon giorno” more often than “bonjour” almost immediately and by the time we walked into Courmayeur, it was clear we were no longer in France. We will leave the specific cultural differences for another time, but we noticed them in the city and most definitely along the trail.
Of course, today started with a steep, 2,500-foot climb, but after that it was the easiest hiking day of the Tour so far. We walked about ten miles at 6,500 feet overlooking a steep glacial valley. The Mont Blanc range on the other side seemed close enough to touch. It was stunningly beautiful.
After a steep descent, we found our hotel in another resort town, Levechy, next to a roaring river at the foot of the Alps. A shower and a beer on the deck made for a perfect cap to the day. Dinner tonight in the hotel, part of the package deal.
The warm weather is supposed to hold for at least another day and the guide book says we will have another amazing look at the Tour's namesake as we cross into Switzerland at 8,000 feet tomorrow. That means another steep climb and “ciao” to Italy for now. We will return!
We awoke Sunday morning (day 5) to more clear blue skies, and after a 6:30 am breakfast packed our things and started our trek.
The hike down from Refugio Elisabetta eventually leveled out onto a wide pathway of relatively easy walking…a welcome relief to the relentless ups and downs of the last few days.
We were pretty sure the easy walking would not last, and of course it didn't. We soon found ourselves headed up and out of the area known as Vallée des Glaciers. Anticipating two nights and a day of rest in the village of Courmayeur, we figured it wouldn't be too tough.
Our itinerary called for an eleven mile day. After what seemed like at least that, if not more, we arrived at another Refugio situated on a ridge above our destination.
Trail markers pointed us steeply downhill for what was estimated to be another two hours of walking.
Ski lifts to the rescue. We purchased our tickets and hopped on the lift down. Best purchase of the trip!
We will be walking the 110 miles of the Tour du Mont Blanc over the next two weeks, with a couple of breaks. The trek circles Europe's highest peak, which is really a mountain range of Alpine peaks, above 15,000 feet.
We are starting in France and will go counter clockwise through Italy and Switzerland, finishing where we started in Chamonix, France. There will be about 68,000 feet of elevation change. It is Europe's most popular long-distance trek.
The clouds have parted a couple times to give us a look at the spectacular mountains that rise above the charming towns below. We are looking forward to the views as the weather brightens over the next few days!
We were strongly advised to begin our trek with two gondola rides from Chamonix, taking us more than 5,000 feet up above spectacular terrain to Le Brevant, more than 8,000 feet high. Clouds blocked our view across the valley to Mont Blanc and made visibility poor for most of the day.
So, after ascending into the clouds, all we had to do is walk to Les Houtches, about 10 miles away, but more than a mile below. It is impossible to describe how challenging, exciting, tiring, painful, and wonderful it was. We walked across snow fields and hung on to railings and chains as our feet made their way on rocky ledges. Most of the way, each step had to be measured.
The skies held their moisture most of the way, but there were a few episodes of icy rain and we finished with an hour of rain.
We arrived at our hotel after seven hours, exhausted but filled with vivid memories of our first day on the Tour du Mont Blanc. We shall see if we can walk when Day Two begins!