Day 21 – Saturday, August 17 – Chevenoz to Chapelle d’Abondance – 24 km
I knew today was going to be a long one, but I have to admit, I underestimated the difficulty a bit. Breakfast was at 8, so I did my best to be all ready to go before then.
I paid and was out the door by 8:45, which I thought was pretty good. I still had to climb out of the town before I even go to the mountain woods part.
There were a ton of cars parked and I realized it was for the trailhead. I knew I would see people, but I didn’t think I could catch up to anyone.
I entered the mountain trail at 9:15. It did make me worry a bit, because I was really later than I should have been.
It was a fairly nice climb up, but it was up and up and up. I caught a glimpse of a couple walking their little dog. I was going to catch up to someone after all!
I passed another group of buildings, and climbed up through a field.
I caught a rather large group at a water trough. A lady said something rather long to me, so I said I only speak a little French. They spoke English. They were curious about my skirt! The first people to ask me about my skirt in 21 days. I’m sure they weren’t the first who wanted the ask, they were just the first that did. I said it had huge pockets and I loved it! They said they don’t often see people hiking in skirts. I said I was going from Le Puy to Rome with a detour through Mont Blanc, and they were very impressed.
They were headed for Mt. Baron, which is the first peak you come to.
I had the option of going up or not. I was very close, so I decided to just go for it. Beautiful views! I really could have skipped it, because I was going much higher.
The climb down from Mt. Baron was steep but fairly short, and then it was up another mountain. Tete des Fieux.
That was a very steep climb. I passed some ski lift equipment, but it looked like it was broken. A very steep climb to the top, but the views were amazing!
There was a bit of a ridge, so you could see in all directions.
The dent d’Oche was very prominent at the beginning of this hike.
I had another option to go to another, larger summit, or go around. I decided I was going to go around. I would be seeing a lot of things, and I didn’t need to see every summit.
From my map, it looked like the GR 5 split off and just went to the side, but it turned out it went down down down before it started going up again. I did not want to go down and then back up, so I decided to go up, almost out of spite. I really hoped I wouldn’t regret it.
The climb to the very top of the peak was rough and rocky, and there was a very strong wind. I guess that’s one disadvantage of a long skirt; I have much more surface area. I thought for sure I could get blown off. I took off my visor, because I knew that WOULD get blown off.
I put sunscreen on my nose, but I didn’t put any on my arms, and that was a bad decision. I got quite red today. When it seemed like there couldn’t possibly be any more wind, I would put my visor back on, and almost immediately the wind would pick up again. It did blow off once, but luckily it was retrievable.
At the top of this peak, Point de Pelluaz, I thought for sure I was going to die trying to go across the ridge. On my map it was a dotted line, which means it’s not as nice of a path. Luckily I saw some hikers already going across the ridge, so I knew it was safe-ish/possible.
It was incredible! I was very glad I had chosen to go that route out of spite. It was an excellent choice, and I didn’t die, or get blown off the ridge. I just can’t believe I’m even here, and my expectations are surpassed by leaps and bounds. This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. I can’t even describe how beautiful it is here. Today was one of the most amazing days ever. I’m actually in the ALPS!
It went up to a higher peak. Lots of views of everything all around. Then it was a pretty sharp descent down to a lake at the back of the dent d’Oche.
Then it was another climb up to the pass between the dents. I saw a chamois on a rock from a long way off. How exciting!
When I made it to the top of that pass, there were some chamois around. This was also a very popular hike and there were a ton of people.
By this time it was 2 pm and I was starting to get worried. I thought I had gone about halfway in 4.5 hours. Was it really going to be 9 hours, or more?
The next area was very rocky. There was a huge herd of more chamois. They are obviously accustomed to having people around.
The hardest thing about this hike was stopping every few steps to take more pictures. I wasn’t sure how much time I was losing because of that.
It was also the highest I’ve been so far. I was breathing harder, but I think I’m handling the altitude fairly well.
The path went around the back, and I got a glimpse of the lake again. I’m at the end of the lake! Everything I see from here is Switzerland. I have been very close a few times, but I don’t know if I’ve actually been in Switzerland yet. I know I’ve connected to the Swiss phone towers.
I finally started heading down toward the refuge de Bise around 3, maybe? That was a very steep, difficult climb down. You can’t do anything quickly in the Alps besides falling. I almost fell/slipped several times, but I did actually fall once. I slipped just at the start of going down. It’s pretty much just dirt. My hands landed on the ground and I landed on my pack. I might have pulled a bit of a muscle in my back, I will know tomorrow for sure, but I was remarkably unhurt. Falling backwards onto a pack is good! I don’t think I cut my hands, but I did get a bit of a blood blister.
It was a long, careful descent. The refuge de Bise is a hopping place. It has a parking lot and a road it is accessible by. It would have been the perfect stopping time, but I had to keep going.
Of course, that meant I had to ascend to another pass first. This was rough. I don’t even know how many ascents this was. 6, 7? I was starting to feel it. Maybe the lack of food, idk. It was also very hot. I finally made it up and over.
The signs said it was only 1.5 hours to Chapelle d’Abondance, so I knew I’d probably make it before my hotel check in closed at 7.
Still, long descents are hard.
I saw several people setting up tents for camping. That’s the nice thing about bringing a tent, but then you also have to bring food, and a TON of water.
I made it down to a parking lot that started the 30 min walk out on a road.
Two ladies who had been hiking and parked, offered to drive me down the hill. I said no. I probably should have said yes. Is it really that big of a deal to get a ride on a road for 2k? Today was just such an amazing day, I wanted to end it properly. Idk if that was the right call or not. Maybe If I had been running late for my hotel I would have said yes.
I reached the little town. It’s definitely a touristy place.
I got checked in at 5:45. 9 hours later!
One of the reasons I chose this hotel is because it says “table d’hôtes” in the name. That specifically means they host dinners. I sent a message saying I wanted dinner at the hotel, and they said they don’t do that. Ugh.
I found a place less than a 5 min walk away. It was a bar that served food all the time. I got a pulled pork burger that had Mae ploy sauce on it, that was very interesting. The fries were delicious, and I dipped them in this mayo sauce thing that idk if it was for the fries or the burger, but it was good. The dinner was 14 E, but I got a dessert too, which was 10 E lol. It was a chocolate trio thing, but it didn’t look at all like what I expected. It was ice cream and not mousse, but it was still good. Not worth 10 E, but still good.
I got a stamp at the bar, because I forgot to ask at the hotel and idk if the guy will be around in the morning. It’s already paid online.
I learned a lot of good things about hiking in the Alps today. I think it will help me plan my Tour Mont Blanc better. I need to allow more time for just standing there gaping at the scenery. And it is very slow going, for multiple reasons.