– And the quest to find gas
I woke pretty early, but i’m in no hurry, the store where i can get a gas canister for my stove opens at 10.00, so i take my time dallying around my small tent, re-packaging everything, sorting ot my days rations of food and snacks. At 7 i take a stroll up to the town, nothing is open but the small bakery i just about to open, and i decide to buy 2 pan chocolate and a baguette.
The campsite i by nok buzzing with activity, and i just sit by my tent and have a nice breakfast, while people are taking down their tents and packing backpacks ect.
People are packing in the early daylight, only a few car-campers!
Today the GR5 is following the TMB, or Tour Mount Blank, or “the Tour” i expect a lot of people on the trail, and i’m NOT disappointed!
At around 9.20’ish i just can’t weiht any longe, i have to get moving, i have to go hiking, i have to go up the mountain.
I arrive at the small outfitter store and they are already open! So i head in and find the last medium size canister with threading… yay, it is thou a french make, and i have mixed feelings about that, because the french have a tendency to make things thair own way, i test it with my stove, and it fits fine! It in the packpack and i’m of to the trail.
The view back toward Chamonix
The road up is on … road and a bit singletrack, but only at bit, after 30 min i meet Haime, a 69 year old american from West Virginia, we end up hiking together the next 1 ½ , it’s nice to talk while walking, it tales the mind of the boring and very steep gravel road, we reach a plateau between chairlifts an have a nice break.
I think we’ve ben hiking a little to fast for Heime, he is totally knackered, and as i indicere that i’m leaving, he stays behind, we say our goodbuy’s and i’m off on my own.
Haime, the cool old man!
The next 45min is uphill, still on gravel road, the top i actually just a alpine meadow with horses, 2 chalet’s and a trail junction, by the junction i spot a faucet where i can get water.
The weather is super nice, the sun i shining an it warm, no clouds in the sky.
As i’m filling my water bottles at the faucet, a man approaches and ask me where i got that baguette hanging from my backpack, i can se that really hopes it is a place nearby, but i have to disappoint him by telling that i got it in the town down below… that is, almost 3 hours to get there, i then tell him that he gan get some of mine as i cannot i the whole thing myself, at first he declines, but in the end he agrees and leaves smiling with a 1/4 of my baguette.
I take a good long look at the big map at the junction, and notice that the trail continues to the left… and to the right? The left seems to go up and along the mountain, the right goes down and around the mountain, what to do?
In the end i decide to keep going along the TMB – the left hand path, up and up, but after 20min i get a nagging doubt, and i have to check my gps, it says that i’m off corse, i head back to the junction and study my trail book and gps again, it turns out that the GR5 goes both ways, the right is the normal route, and the left is the alternate route, they seem to be of equal length, so i opt for the one that heads up the mountain (Big mistake!)
30mins later i pass a closed, but really cool looking chalet, and a bit further there is a picnic table where i eat dinner, a lovely baguette with peanutbutter and a Sneakers for dessert.
A long and well deserved break just below “bellevue” a cool but closed chalet
HANG-BRIDGE AND THE “WALL”
The next part of the trail is super nice, it’s on a narrow trail that has a nice flow while descending just a little over the next hour, i really enjoy this! theres even a few places where i have to traverse rocks, And the feet are still ok.
In the distance i can spot a hang-bridge, it would be cool if the trail goes that way, and of course it does, the last bit down to the bridge is super steep and by now i’m very happy with my hiking poles, i want to film the crossing so i strap the gopro onto one pole and almost drop it in the waterfall as i start to cross the bridge! The bridge i cool and i get the whole thing on film, drop and all.
On the way op on the other side i hit the “Wall”. I have been hiking for over 5 hours in the sun and heat, and i have no energy left, so it is a very hard climb, but i make it and decide to have a break at a nice spot, i pull the Tyvek out and get a good rest in the sun. I can hear the glacier cracking.
Super nice trail, with a few cliff traverses!
It’s only a short climb to Col de Tricot, about 25min, theres a lot of hikers there taking a rest, and a lot of sheep, they try to lick the legs on hikers as there is salt in the sweat… gross! I only have a short break, and use the time to pre-tape my feet as i am about to descend a steep steep trail down into the valley.
It is a tough decent, my feet are feeling it! But no blisters yet, in the valley theres a nice little refuge called chalets de Miage where i have 2 Oranginas, it’s around 6€ for the two of them, i have a nice break and enjoy it with my shoes and socks off.
up thru the “Saddle” in the center, to Col de Tricot
Tripped on a rock and almost lost the camera, a bit sketchy
Getting licked by a sheep
More salty legs are getting licked
After a ½ hour break i’m of to the next climb, up to Chalets de Truc, it’s only a short one but i’m totally done, no energy left and my back are starting to hurt, it’s a nice walk on the top, and the trail slowly descends down towards the town of Les Contramines, at first it’s very nice, but i have to stop to tape my feet a little more as they are developing hotspots.
Around 17.00 i arrive at the city center, i don’t want to go any further and consider renting a room, i’m so tired! I really don’t want to sleep here so i tug my head down and put one foot in front of the other to find a campsite… the trail follows the small river further into the mountains and for the next 4km i hardly notice anything around me, there’s a camping site coming up shortly, but it’s full of kids, people partying ect. so i carry on, my goal is to reach Refuge de la Balme in another 5km, they have a free camp site next to the refuge.
It have been almost flat until now, and super easy walking, so as the trail turns into sheer steep rock, and the sign says there’s 2 hours to the refuge, i just want to stop and pitch my tent here. The next 45min are super hard, and i struggle! But then i hear a car coming up the trail.. What? A car? It turns out to be a small 4×4, and almost as a joke i put my thumb up, and the car stops!! I can’t belive this, i’m getting a ride to Chalet de Nant Borrant! The driver is a old lady who lives just next to the refuge, it’s only maybe 10min slow riding, but oh-so-nice.
I get dropped of at the chalet, and have a quick look around, so hoping to find a place where i can pitch my tent, but the chalet is closed and i says on a sign that you are NOT allowed to use the area for camping, luckily there are 4 hikers coming down the trail and i ask if they have seen a good place to camp? They say there is a site just 10min up ahead! Oh my luck!
Looking back down the valley, it’s getting dark
10 min later and i’m at the tent site, a small area close to the stream, flat space is hard to come by thou, but i manage to pitch my tent close to a cow pasture, it will be so nice to have a good warm meal and a good night sleep. The tent is pitched, the sleeping mat and bag are ready, the only thing left is to have some varm food, so i put on the stove… and nothing happens! there is only a faint wiff of a flame.. nothing more! I try several times and it just won’t work, the water is only slight warm when i give up! Feck this, ill eat it anyway, but i must have been blind when i got the freeze dried food, this one is vegetarian! Damn it! and it tastes horrible, i can only manage ½ of it, i bin the rest along with the french made gas canister, i will get one later… i hope.
Evening or morning? same/same