Day 2 of the Tour du Mont Blanc. By far the hardest day of the trip. It was a long, hot hike to the pass that took most of the day. Only 10 km, but we started out around 7 and made it to the pass around 3. Yeah, that is less than a mile an hour and it was exhausting, but so worth it as it was one of the best views of the hike once we go to the top.
We started off the morning with a nice, easy, flat walk along the river to Notre Dame de la Gorge.
Our guidebook said after this the trail climbs up on an old Roman road, but really at first it was just like a smoothish rock face that was like straight up. That is what I remember the most from this trip, as well as some of the other steep climbs, as the gradient hurt my calves as my feet aren't supposed to bend back that far so I ended up trying to walk on my toes up the hills.
There were usually a lot of water troughs/fountains like this along the trail where you could fill up your water bottle.
For the most part in the morning we were doing pretty good, but then the sun came out. Man the sun is really killer. Makes it soooo much hotter.
Can't escape civilization
The trail quickly went above the tree line so there was no hiding from the sun. Sweat was just literally dripping off of us. We stopped for a break at one point and everyone walking by was just drenched in sweat. One guy stopped nearby as well and the sweat was just pouring off of him and everyone was going pretty slow. We were definitely not the only ones having a hard time (though we were one of the few who were carrying more than a small day pack). By the time we got to the top we had so much salt built up on our faces it was ridiculous. Salty ramen for dinner was so good.
There are some cows in there - you could hear them often making so much racket with their cow bells clanging. It was fun. There were also a lot of bugs, grasshoppers and such, that would just make a lot of noise all the time. There was one that made an odd sound - like chirp chirp(like a grasshopper or cricket), then a sound like air being blasted out of something quickly, chirp. I had never head those bug before but they were everywhere. Sometimes walking through the fields there would just be grasshoppers jumping all over the place. Yes, they might not be the most exciting animal sightings, but it was fun.
Almost to the top! At Col du Bonhomme
And the top! Col de la Croix du Bonhomme
We sat and had a long break watching the clouds quickly roll through. And man it was freezing at the pass! I had to pull out all of my clothes - my hat, gloves, long underwears, all my jackets, everything. But it was sooo much better than the incredible heat walking up to there. I will take the cold over hot any day.
Once you are at the top you have a choice of paths to take - the main trail which goes down to Les Champieux or the alternative path which is supposed to be beautiful, but would have been at least another 4 hours of hiking. We were way too tired by the time we got to the turn off to go that way, plus there was a sign warning that there were a few kms of trail that were super sketchy that way - close to the rocks and not stable so be careful. Yeah, way too tired to try and get through that. So we headed down down down down to Les Champieux.
The hiker here is a lady from South Africa we were talking to for a little bit. She is an older lady and she just moseys along the trail. She was saying she is just taking her time and seeing how far she will get with the time she has. She was really nice and she was asking us where we were from as she couldn't place out accents. Apparently we did not sound like we were from the US.
We stopped at the refuge for another break at Croix du Bonhomme which was my favorite viewpoint of the whole trip. The colors don't show up that well, but every hill was a different shade of green and it was absolutely beautiful. Made the long trek up to there totally worth it. And it was all downhill for the rest of the day from there.
Down though some giant fields of whatever this is
Past some old farm buildings
Yes I have a billion pictures of this view on the way down
The clouds were coming in
And our campsite in Les Champieux. The clouds did stick around most of the night and it was the first time we had some rain. It started shortly after we ate dinner so it was nice to lay in the tent and listen to it and drift off to sleep. Really day 2 was exhausting and we were so tired by the time we got to camp, but it was absolutely beautiful. Next time we will definitely have to train some so we are not so tired at the end of the day. We were going to, but the weeks before we left it was almost 100 here in Berlin so WAY too hot to hike around. Anyways that is day two of our trip.