Adieu, France; Buongiorno, Italy

Day 29 – Monday, August 26 – Refuge de la Nova to Cabane du Combal – 20 km

I actually slept really, really well. Maybe the best sleep I’ve gotten since I got here. I did have to get up to go to the bathroom twice, which meant I had to walk across the yard and up the stairs into the dorm. Twice. But I think I slept in 3 hour chunks, which is really good.

I woke up feeling no worse, so that’s also good. Today is going to be a climb so hopefully I stay that way.

Breakfast was good. They had the granola/yogurt combination available this time, so I got some of that. I wonder if they have any of that in Italy. I realized last night that today is my last day in France! I will be in Italy from now on. That’s crazy!

I got all ready to go. I went to the bathroom one last time, and as I went to put my pack on, I realized I didn’t see my visor. I had a moment of panic, wondering where I could have left it, but I knew I arrived here with it. I found it in the mud room with the shoes. Whew!

I started off around 8 am, heading up the canyon. I decided to keep my coat on this morning. If I probably shouldn’t be too cold since I’m fighting being sick. I even put my gloves on. I knew it would be a while before I was touched by the sun, being in the canyon. 

At first I followed the road up. Most of the groups at the refuge were being driven up to the Ville de Glaciers, to walk from there. I guess that’s one way to do it. I certainly wouldn’t have come all the way down here if I’d been paying attention. Oh well. If I ever do it again, I’ll skip this part for sure.

There was a sign saying no cars allowed on the road between 8:30 and 5:30, so all the vans were racing up and back to be done before 8:30.

I didn’t have to follow the road all the way up, we got diverted off to the side and through a field with some cows. It was a nice climb at first, not too steep. There was a bit of a dam.

Before I got to the Ville des Glaciers, I ran into another couple from Indiana. They were coming up behind me, so I waited, holding a gate open for them. A bit later they returned the favor and held one for me.

I decided to take a pit stop at the bathroom. That’s the nice thing about the TMB. There are bathrooms frequent enough that I haven’t had to pee on the trail since the beginning. That’s pretty awesome. It’s also easier on my knees. Squatting is getting very difficult. 

It was another 25 minutes or so to the Refuge de Mottets. Everyone I ran into yesterday said they were staying there. It looks very nice! This area is gorgeous, too.

Then started the long walk up to the Col. It was actually pretty nice. It was a gravel road the whole way up, which made it nice. But it was long, and pretty steep in some places, and I was feeling the altitude a bit. I did start coughing a bit again as I got higher. 

I think I did pretty well. I didn’t want to push, but I didn’t want to go too slow, either.

I got passed by Flore, it was nice to see her again.

As I got closer and closer to the Col de la Seigne, it made me sad realizing I’d be leaving France. I’m sure I will be back at some point.

I finally made it to the top. Amazing views! It was very windy, but there was a large cairn that blocked the wind nicely. Flore and I sat up there for a while. I usually don’t stop, but I couldn’t check in before 3 anyway.

We walked down to Refuge Elisabetta together. This valley is absolutely incredible. It’s an obvious glacier valley, but the craggy peaks on the other side were breathtaking. I love how all of the valleys are different, and they’re all beautiful.

We got to Elisabetta and climbed up a tiny bit more to see the glacier.

We got some cake and sat for a bit again. I saw the New Zealand couple again, and I finally learned their names. Jean and John. She said they have all kinds of trouble in France, because Jean and John are the same name lol. 

My cake was some kind of apple cake.

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Flore and I parted after our snack. I only had a short, 45 min walk to where I was going, and she was going farther to a campground. Tonight is her last night. She will take a bus through the tunnel at Courmayeur back to Chamonix. 

It was a gorgeous walk. Right by the refuge there was a place where two different glacier melts started to mix. One was completely clear, and one was that almost turquoise color. 

The Refuge is built on a glacier moraine. It’s actually an active moraine. I checked in and left my bag, then put my shoes on to hike up to look at the glacier. I should have brought my sticks. I missed having them; it was enough of a climb. I’m glad I did it before my shower. There were ton of little paths up there, so it took a while to figure out where I was actually going, but I found it. The end of an actual glacier. The snow is gray, and covered with rocks. The rocks fell constantly. The rocks all around were left by the glacier. It makes you wonder how many thousands of years it took to get to this point. It was really super interesting to see that close up.

When I got back to my room, the other 3 people were there. They are part of a 10 person tour group from Colorado. I don’t know if I’ll be sitting with them at dinner or not. Probably not. Oh well.

I have been coughing a bit more, and my throat is a bit more tickly. I think I talked with Flore too much today. Hopefully I wake up ok again tomorrow.

So dinner had me sitting completely by myself. Not even with the other rejects. But the main table invited us to eat with them, so I did. I didn’t get a picture, though. Oh well.

Dinner was pasta, which was very good. Then pork with gravy and mashed potatoes, then a cake. I could have eaten more.

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