Tete Nord es Fours

Day 28 – Sunday, August 25 – Refuge Nant Borrant to Refuge De la Nova – 16.5 km

I went to bed at 8:30, and I must have fallen asleep, because I didn’t hear anyone come in and get ready for bed. I woke up at 10 to snoring. Two different types of snoring. Luckily, it didn’t last all night, and I did actually sleep ok. 

I did have to get up twice during the night to use the bathroom. I don’t know what is wrong with these people, but EVERY TIME I went to use the bathroom I had to clean the seat first. It seemed like no one could use the bathroom without peeing on the seat, sometimes a lot. And then they leave it. They obviously know they pee on it, but they don’t clean it up. Yuck.

I think I’m fighting a cold or something. I’ve been gargling with Thieves oil. I didn’t wake up worse, so that’s a good sign.

I went for breakfast at 7 and was on my way at 7:50. It was quite chilly this morning, but I still didn’t put my jacket on. It knew it was going to be up almost constantly, so I would have gotten hot quite quickly. There’s nothing worse than sweating when it’s really cold out. 

I caught up with the British couple from dinner and walked with them for a bit, but left them behind. I am quite a bit faster on the uphills. This is only day two for them.

It was a pretty steep uphill at first, but then it leveled out nicely for a while. Usually when I’m walking toward a col, I can figure out where it is and where I’m going. This one, I had no idea. It was definitely hidden.

When the sun broke through, it warmed up quite quickly, but because of the nature of the hike, we went in and out of the sun a lot.

There was a bit where we had to cross a river. I saw a man sitting on a rock, and I recognized him as the Englishman from Refuge Chesery. His knee was hurting quite a lot, and he was actually debating whether he should continue or go back. That’s always the great fear. Are you going to hurt yourself so you have to stop? The blessing I got before I left said my pain wouldn’t keep me from finishing. I take great comfort in that.

After turning a corner and going up a bit more, I was finally able to see the Col.

It was still a rather steep climb. Definitely a difficult day 2 or 3 for people just starting out. We even had to cross a snow field at one point. I was afraid my feet would break right through, but the snow really was quite firm. While I was standing there debating how to cross, a guy came up, and I said, “you first.” Turns out he’s from Indiana. Working in Germany right now, but from Indiana. He was in town hoping to compete in the UTMB next week, but his number didn’t get drawn. He travels around Europe looking for crazy races to enter. I’m happy with just walking.

It was another, steep climb up to the col du bonnehomme. I didn’t wait there long, because I still had a lot of climbing to do.

It was another hour to the slightly higher Croix du Bonnehomme. This walk was mostly through a rock field, and sometimes the path was tricky to follow. 

The Refuge de Bonnhomme was right below the Croix, but I wasn’t going there yet. I didn’t plan today very well. There’s an alternate, higher route that cuts the bottom corner off the TMB. Unfortunately I reserved my refuge right in that bottom corner. I read in the book one of the summits on the higher route was worth the detour. Today was going to be a short day anyway, so I decided to take the detour. It ended up adding an hour and 45 mins onto my day, but that turned out to be perfect.

At the Croix I ran into the New Zealand couple from Refuge de Miage. I walked up with them a bit. They travel all over the world trekking. Last year they did the Inca Trail, and they’ve been in the Himalayas. How fun.

We stopped along the way to take come pictures of some new flowers we hadn’t seen yet. I saw some forgetmenots for the first time in the wild I think. I still haven’t seen any edelweiss. 

I was feeling the altitude a bit. The summit was at 2700m. I was coughing a bit.

It was beautiful views. The book had said we could see the Matterhorn, but I have no idea where it was. There was a view table key, but nothing said the Matterhorn. It was probably under another name, but I didn’t think to try to look that up. I took a picture of something that looked triangular (turns out that IS the Matterhorn. The French name is Cervens.)


It was definitely a good view, and worth the detour. 

There was a French lady at the top who had seen me this morning and asked about my skirt. I ended up telling her I was going to Rome. She said she would like to do something like that, but she didn’t have the confidence. I told her she should go for it.

I headed back down to the Refuge de Bonnehomme. The guys at dinner last night had talked up the carbonara for only 10 E. I decided I wanted some. The problem was I said yes to a packed lunch before I heard them talking, so I also had a packed lunch. 

The carbonara was absolutely delicious and calorie packed, but there were so many flies in the refuge. So many. Hundreds. And it didn’t look like they were even trying to do anything about them. For as many as there were, I was impressed none of them landed on my food. I ate quickly and headed out. I was coughing a bit, but that stopped as I decreased in altitude. I really hope I can kick this.


It was actually a pretty steep descent. Thankfully my knees did pretty well most of the way, until the end. It was steep enough that there weren’t a lot of good pictures looking back up where I had come from. There was one point I could see the Refuge, but that was it.

I remember my book had said to avoid the steep paths because that contributes to erosion, but honestly there were so many paths snaking around it was impossible to know which ones were the main path.

Refuge de la Nova was right at the bottom of the hill. I got there right after 3, which is when checkin starts. So today worked out perfectly.

The bunkhouse is by itself away from the main building, which means there’s going to be a long couple of walks in the middle of the night. They have some dorms inside the building, but I didn’t get one of those.

I decided to go ahead and eat my sandwich. It was ham, cheese, and egg, and I didn’t know if it would last another day unrefrigerated. I’m definitely getting plenty of calories today. Maybe I need the extra calories to fight this cold? I feel like I could take a nap.

I lay down in the bed and bundled up. I think I drifted off a few times. I was cold, but idk if that means I was fighting a fever or not. I did get some sun today.

I went to dinner but I really wasn’t that hungry. It turned out to be a good thing, because there was very little food. They might have brought us more if we’d asked, but it was the least amount of food offered by far. I ate my share, but if I hadn’t eaten lunch I would have been very hungry.

I met Flore at dinner. She’s Dutch, but working in Switzerland. She had 4 days off work so came here with her camping gear. She wanted a hot meal for once.

Paolo was an Italian biking the TMB. He’s going the whole thing in 3 days! 

Dinner was soup, then meat and potatoes, then cheese, then a panacotta with a berry sauce. It was good, but it was good I wasn’t very hungry.

When I started talking to Flore, I realized my voice is sounding like I’m sick. Ugh. I really hope I don’t get sick.


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