We are back at our starting location of Les Houches, but I’ll try to catch you all up on yesterday’s happenings. It took about an hour to wind our way through Montroc back to the trail, but it was to be a relatively short day anyway, so no worries.
We paid our respects to the trail gods, then were headed up once again into the hills.
This section contained the infamous ladders, which had everyone talking, wondering, and nervous. The guidebook had been extremely conservative so-far, so I was suspicious of the supposed difficulty. It was actually great fun…except for the fact that it started to rain just as we reached the top.
About halfway through the day, we made a slight mistake at one of the junctions, and had to backtrack about 10 minutes. That wrong turn however enabled us to get our first and only viewing of a very stately ibex. The pics are on the camera though, so you’ll have to wait. We arrived at our final stop; Refuge de la Flegere.
Accommodations were mostly comfortable; hot showers, welcoming common room, and friendly staff.
The 3rd floor (which is the 2nd floor in Europe) was very cold, but that seemed like a welcome change, as dortoirs can get rather warm and “fragrant” when you stuff a bunch of TMBers into such a confined space.
The wind HOWLED all night, masking the inevitable cacaphony of snoring, but resulted in fitful sleep. With a mix of sadness and excitement, we said goodbye to acquaintences and hopped on the tram to Chamonix. The weather was nasty and in order to save our already ailing knees, we chose to skip the brutal downhill trail to Les Houches.
We took our time strolling through Chamonix, window shopping and stopping for a cup of coffee to wash down the brown bread and excellent cheese saved from the previous night’s dinner.
I guess we could have hopped on the Chamonix Sud bus or taken the train, but for some reason (cost?) We decided to hike through the valley to Les Houches. The skies opened up and despite our rain gear, we were drenched by the time we arrived at the outskirts of town. With rain hoods up, and heads down, we almost walked right by another pair of hikers from Scotland that we had befriended a few nights earlier. At the last second we recognized each other… resulting in joining them for lunch, more trail stories, exchanged emails, and invitations…”if you’re ever in Glasgow/Oregon”.
For me, I think this is what will define my TMB experience; the comraderie between people from all over, each person’s unique reason for being on the trail, and the shared excitement at the dawn of each new day. I already know that by the time we return home, I’ll already be daydreaming and planning (scheming?) about returning to the trail; be it the TMB, or somewhere else.
Thanks for sharing the experience with us.