My mountain haven served a hiker style breakfast early and plentifully. After fueling up for the day and chatting with my fellow adventurers — It was time to begin hiking onward. I left the hostel alone, knowing that my new Australian/American hiking friends would not be far behind me and always enjoying the option of having everyone chase me up and over the mountains 🙂
Leaving the hostel begins with an uphill climb to the only major mountain pass for today. It is continuously up with snow patches surrounding on all sides. Sometimes walking on stones and other times walking through snow.
Looking backwards you have a great view of similar sights from the night before. Majestic mountain peaks, green rolling hills, wide open valleys, and snow patches for miles…..all without a building or home in site. I couldn’t imagine a better way to start a morning, and I can honestly say this was the most majestic morning hikes that I might have ever experienced.
After the coffee fueled uphill hike; I eventually reached the pass between two mountains. Off to the left is a spur trail towards another summit. In the distance I could see Julia hiking up this side spur — which is about a 1-mile round trip that is entirely optional. The Australian cousin crew caught up with me at the mountain pass. I discussed the spur trail briefly with them but ended up deciding on proceeding forwards without attempting the additional summit.
The trail forward was a little confusing. I was standing on a rock podium trying to get an idea of where it leads. The trail was covered in snow and seemed to drop off the face of the world in about 100 yards. I assumed there was some switchbacks that lead me down the steep mountain face……However, one of the cousins had hiked this part of the TMB before, and she informed me the trail descends directly down the steep snow face and sliding was the best method.
I trudged through the snow and up to the edge of the “drop.” The mountain did in fact become much steeper down here and I could see long tracks in the snow from other hikers butts 🙂 I could not see any footprints, which meant that sliding was the method here. I sat down with my 30 lb pack and began using my hiking pole to push myself into a controlled slide. The controlled part of my slide quickly turned uncontrolled and I slid off target too far left and was forced to jab my hiking pole into the snow to slow my descent. This bent the pole but did allow me to climb onto a jutting rock surface to better access a strategy.
Next, I trekked sideways with the slope and got over to a section where previous hiker’s sledding had left an imprint. I settled by butt and pack into the bobsled track. Using my hip as the main point of contact and pointing my legs straight downhill. Beginning the slide this time was easy and i kicked my legs while sliding to keep me on track. My new method worked! And this butt sledding became a very fun experience — I was whooping for joy while elated at my success a controlled slide down the face of the mountain.
After sliding downhill for awhile — the landscape changes quickly. You leave the snowy/rocky outcroppings and enter into a lush green valley. It’s amazing how quickly the views change from snowy rocks to babbling brooks. I finally caught up to the hikers that had been in the distance for most of the day. They were nice enough to snap a picture of me hiking downwards into the valley.
The next several miles are completely downhill, as the trail stretches towards the valley bottom. Per normal in the Alps — the view is amazing. Surrounding hikers with mountains on all sides.
Eventually, small signs of civilization begin popping up. Fenced cows in the distance and even a small barn. The trail winds past old stone structures that have been long abandoned and were probably used by mountain farmers generations ago.
It is not an overly difficult section of trail, but there are a few water crossings to be careful of. I managed to completely soak one of my feet after a slip.
I took several breaks during this section. In large part due to the amazing scenery. Blissful is the best way to describe the feeling of sitting and looking across this great landscape.
Also, the trail begins passing through some pastures and quickly the next small farming village comes into view far below.
Upon reaching the small village, I had a decision to make. This was the first road I had seen in awhile, and the next leg of my European vacation needed to begin at some point….the road gave me an opportunity to begin hitchhiking towards civilization and eventually across France to begin the Camino de Santiago.
I was sad to leave the TMB, but this seemed like the best chance I would have in awhile. Some of my hiking companions passed me and continued on their journey’s…not wanting to explain a goodbye on the trail; I told them I would catch up at some point. I hope they all had a great Tour du Mont Blanc!
The small village here is actually more of a collection of farming buildings. There wasn’t exactly a train station, so I set off across France on foot. My thumb out and a smile on my face.