Day 6, 7, and 8 — On to Switzerland!
Day 8: Champex, Switzerland
Miles So Far (approximately): 69 miles (30 or so to go).
Total Trip Elevation: 20,406 feet up, 19,917 feet down total.
Well, it never fails. I always seem to get a cold when I am traveling or headed off to a big adventure and the TMB is no exception. While I have managed to keep on my hiking schedule, despite the constant nose blowing and coughing, my energy for post-hike blogging was at essentially zero. So I am catching up! Yes, I’m feeling a bit better, but mostly we had a “short” “easy” day getting to our hotel at 1ish — in time for a late lunch and a shower. Now, I am relaxing on the Hotel Splendide’s back patio enjoying an amazing view of the Swiss Val Ferret.
Day 6 — Courmayeur to Chalet Val Ferret
Day 6 may be my favorite so far. The hike was about 17 kilometers with about 3,300 feet of ascent. However, the initial slog up had big payoff. The first were views down to Courmayeur (which is a great Italian outdoor town) and the peaks we had climbed near prior to the rest day.
The next payoff was a charming refuge, Refugio Bertone, were I enjoyed a cappuccino before headed out again.
For their first time in the trip there was sustained area of flat where I could stretch my legs and get some miles in, while enjoying views of glaciers and rugged peaks in the Italian Val Ferret.
I enjoyed lunch at a second refuge, the Refugio Bonatti, named after the famed Italian mountain climber, explorer and journalist, Walter Bonatti. I had a hardy meal of polenta and sausage. I am going to have to figure out a backpacking version of this meal for back home!
I had a long switchbacking descent (1,800 feet) to the Chalet Val Ferret and caught the bus back to Courmayeur to rest for day 7.
Day 7 — Chalet Val Ferret to La Fouly — Crossing into Switzerland
Day 7 was a 13.7 kilometer hike with an elevation gain of about 2,500 feet crossing the Grand Col Ferret into Switzerland. We were staying in Courmayeur, so we caught a bus (free!) to the trailhead to start where we had ended the day before.
Day 7 had the worst weather of the trip this far. While it was ok weather in Courmayeur, we immediately added raincoats, rain hats, gloves, and neck buffs as soon as we got off the bus. I run hot and am almost always more comfortable in shorts, so I resisted putting on my rain pants.
The hike was an immediate steep ascent for 45 minutes to Refugio Elena — which had an amazing view of the Italian Val Ferret and had pretty tasty coffees and tarts for a pre-mid-morning snack (but we were working hard and deserved its right?).
The trail got even steeper, colder, windier, and snowy after the refuge and after about two hours and 45 minutes we made it to the Col and border.
After stepping into Switzerland, we began a long descent in the Swiss Val Ferret to the town of La Fouley (of course we found a Swiss refuge to sit and enjoy the sausage, cheese, and mustard (Kitty loves mustard) we bought in Courmeyeur along with cappuccinos and a tart from the refuge.
Being a Sound of Music fan, I was pretty excited that our hotel’s name was the Edelweiss and our room had a balcony with a stunning view, but the food was pretty lackluster at best.
We were looking forward to day 8 and what was supposed to be an easy day.
Day 8 — La Fouly to Champex — “The Easy Day?”
The guidebooks promised that this would be an easy day of 14 kilometers with pastoral Swiss valleys, cute villages, beautiful but not glacier covered mountains, and ending with a short climb (1,800 feet) to the lake village of Champex.
The day largely did not disappoint. Of course, we found a trailside bakery/coffee shop (La Kabana) to have a drink and some sweets. Most of the trails were relatively flat with pleasant if not stunning views.
Eventually, we reached the areas with the “short” climb. It proved to be another long slog to reach the top, but the lake village proved to be charming and we arrived just after 1:00 p.m., so we have enjoyed some much-needed relaxation and blogging time!
Tomorrow will be another tough one — crossing Alp Bovine and Col de Forciaz.
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