The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of Europe’s most popular hiking routes, and there are outfitters all over the world who offer guided coverage of the trails. Just one example is REI, who offers a 13 day trek that features several forms of alternate transportation along the way such as cable cars, buses and trains, so that the trekkers don’t have to walk all 105 miles. Even the guidebooks break the whole trail into 11 parts, so for our group to complete the whole thing in six days we needed to cover two segments a day for all but one day of our journey.
Day Two happened to be the only day when we covered just one segment of the trail, which meant only one big ascent and a lot less mileage.
We woke in our Auberge, Hotel Gai du Soleil, at around 7:30 am so that we would have time to eat, pack up, and hit the road by 9. John and I did not sleep well. It seems we had a touch of jet lag–a lot of tossing and turning in the night. Still, come morning, our bodies felt surprisingly good after having covered so many miles on Day 1. I did not feel muscle-sore (though I did feel tired) so I was really looking forward to hitting the trail again. I felt so relieved that my training seemed to have paid off.
Honestly, I had wanted to do about 75% more training than I accomplished before we headed to Europe. My main excuses for not training more were, John and I moved away from South Mountain April 27 and no longer could run straight from our house to trails and hills. So a lot of my miles ended up being flat (and frankly, boring). Also, I got a really bad asthma flare when we moved (probably the dust!) so I was on Prednisone for a week in May and had a hard time getting my lungs back in running shape. I’m proud of the training I did do though, which involved as many miles and as much climbing as I could get in.
On Day 2, breakfast was a buffet of simple breads, pastries, cereals, and yogurt and some delicious local apricots. After some coffee and calories we were ready to head out.
Our outfitter Simon James and his girlfriend Karin were kind enough to bring the Canine Support team to see us off. Since everyone in our group has beloved dogs at home, we especially appreciated being able to get some snuggles and pats before starting off.
Today’s segment started fast and gentle uphill. It was beautiful scenery in the trees, passing a lovely historic church, a gorge and waterfall, then winding uphill and above the tree-line towards the day’s ultimate test, the Col du Bonhomme.
I’m not certain exactly how he did it, but our biking team member stayed with us all day, even through some ragged and tough patches of trail. We all regrouped for a picture at the top of the Col, then we met again at a refuge at the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, where we had some coffee (or beer) and snacks.
From there, as you can see from the map, it was a downhill journey to the Auberge de la Nova, our lodging place for night two of our adventure. We got in pretty early and had some snacks on the lawn while waiting for dinner. Our rooms at this small inn were very basic–a bed, a chair, and a sink. The shared shower and toilet were in the hallway, and were very tiny.
Once again John and I had some jet lag and didn’t sleep perfectly. I was worried about how that might affect us on Day 3, which based on the numbers would prove to be doubly challenging.
Max elevation: 2472 m
Min elevation: 1153 m
Total climbing: 1737 m
Total descent: -1348 m
Total Time: 06:04:04