Last night’s dinner at Cabane du Combal was good. It started with a simple pasta dish, followed by mashed potatoes and sausages. Interesting! Dessert was some kind of blueberry cake with whipped cream. Or maybe myrtilles, which is the type of berry they have here that’s almost identical to North American blueberries.
The forecast was for rain overnight and into the morning, with the day becoming totally sunny by around 10 a.m. Since we had another short day planned, and this day’s hike is supposed to offer incredible views of Mont Blanc, we decided to hang out in the refugio until the weather got better. So after a simple breakfast of a boiled egg, a piece of cheese and some bread, we hung out until 9, when the skies brightened and the temperatures warmed. And then we were off.
Leaving Cabane du Combal
It’s about a third of a mile (.5 km) from Cabane du Combal to the trail, and once you rejoin the trail, it goes straight uphill. Luckily, we had fresh legs at this point. Well, sort of, after the previous three days! The sun came out almost immediately, and we were quickly treated to amazing views of Mont Blanc. It’s so hard to describe what we saw, and our pictures don’t do it justice.
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We were inching our way up these steep inclines while seeing the most incredible Alpine views you can imagine. Also, at this time of year the glaciers and winter snows are melting, so all you could see and hear were the rushing of innumerable waterfalls and creeks. We took so many photos and were just all in awe of what we saw.
Focusing on Courmayeur
After reaching the high point a few miles in, we began the very, very long descent into Courmayeur. The first part wasn’t too bad. The scenery was still amazing, although at one point we passed a large downhill skiing area, so there were snow guns and lights and all of that.
Around lunch time, we came across a refugio, so we stopped for a sandwich and salad. The place was fun, the food was good and we were excited about our short day. And then we encountered the super steep downhill that someone had warned us was coming at the very end of this segment. We thought it would be steep but short. WRONG. It was very steep, and very long. Not the worst, if your body parts are healthy. But I have a compromised hamstring and torn calf muscle, and they do NOT like going downhill. I had to side-step my way for miles down this portion, and I wanted to cry a few times. But I made it.
Heading to Our Hotel
So far all of our hotels have been on the TMB or very close to it. Today’s hotel, La Grange (aka Animal Chic Hotel), was 2 miles (3.2 km) off the trail. It was one of the only stops that our luggage shuttlers serviced, so we didn’t have much choice. We thought we could Uber there to save our legs for tomorrow – which is a very long day – but there are no Ubers here. So we walked (uphill all the way) to the hotel. Thank goodness it’s a very nice place with wonderful employees.
After doing laundry and hanging it on the balcony to dry, we went to dinner with the Eckerts at a long-time local spot close to the hotel. Back here, we celebrated Ed’s and Bruce’s birthdays (they’re both turning 63 on this trip), while Aria, a pet pig, snuffled around our legs.
You just can’t beat international travel for expanding your horizons!
Tour du Mont Blanc Miles Today: =7.5 (12.1 km)
TMB Miles Overall: 43.7 (70.3 km)
TMB Miles to Go: 66.3 (106.7 km)
Today’s best gear: The Tide laundry packets I never travel without!