After a heavy and hot night’s sleep which included hallucinating somebody was going through my bag at the end of my bed (there wasn’t, it was too much tiredness) I woke up around 6am eager to get out and on the next stage of the TMB.
The night before it had rained and there was no view of any mountain never mind the south face of the Grand Jorrases that were supposed to be directly opposite. It couldn’t have been any more different the next morning. So clear you could see the summit of Mont Blanc. A great view to watch with your morning coffee that the Rifugio kittens wanted to drink!
The path from Rifugio Bonatti hugs the side of the mountains all the way to Rifugio Elena yet our map sent us down into the valley and along the glacial coloured river. At times the road cut through Alpine forests and was a welcome respite from the already strong sun.
The ascent up to Rifugio Elena in the mid-morning sun that had the strength of a mid-afternoon sun was trying. I certainly started to appreciate the walking poles more. It was a long and hot drag up to that refuge and the most welcome espresso and bar of chocolate was waiting when we got up there.
Along with the espresso I finally had to succumb to the Compeed before we hit the path up to Grand Col Ferret …. This …. of ascent had a long line of hikers zig-zagging up to the top and we soon joined them yet abilities, fitness and how heavy your rucksack was soon meant some were left behind.
The views from the ascent to Grand Col Ferret offer the last views of Italy and the huge glaciers and mountains along the Mont Blanc massif. These, along with the odd cooling breeze made a tough ascent easier. That, and the fact I was having a full blown crush on my walking poles made it easier.
Everything changed at the Col. The views changed to the Monte Rosa and Mt. Cervino, the trees disappeared from the valleys and the wind got a bit colder.
Welcome to Switzerland.
Remember last year’s trip to the Alps and how me and Switzerland didn’t really get on? Well, walking back into Switzerland reminded me of being in Switzerland. I missed Italy and its huge Val Ferret and it’s massive mountains already.
Don’t get me wrong, the views were fantastic but the path was getting long and I was getting tired. Having done so much ‘up’ going down was arduous despite the descent being gradual. All that extra weight in the pack made finding your centre of gravity all the more difficult. We stopped at Le Peule for a rest and all the way down seemed like forever. The feet were done by this point.
Me and my rucksack weren’t friends either. Hips and shoulders winced each time I put it back on and me and BG were ready to get to La Fouly. We could see it down the valley! So close!
So not close.
After plodding down even further into the valley and La Fouly completely within touching distance we came to a sign that said ‘La Fouly- 1hr’.
Another hour. The feet said no, the ankles ached and I dragged my walking poles along the track.
That was the longest hour of walking I’ve ever done. You could feel every heavy footstep. La Fouly never got closer. Peanut M&Ms were totally useless by this point.
Ten hours later (that’s how it felt anyway) we finally reached La Fouly with its quaint little Swiss houses surrounded by a glacier and huge mountains.
The walk to the campsite was uncomfortable. The walk to the reception at the campsite was even more uncomfortable. The shower at the campsite was pure heaven. So was the pasta. So was the cheese.
I was finished off by that stage of the TMB. We pitched our super lightweight tent (it weighs 1kg) and I was gone. Asleep. Nothing was going to wake me. Except the huge alpine thunderstorm that started around 7:30pm and went on until midnight. Somehow, I managed to sleep through most of it.
Somehow when I woke up I was ready for the next day to Champex. I just had to accept the rucksack once more…