Statistics: mileage 11.25 miles ascent 3281′ descent 4324′
Chalet Hotel Les Campanules, very hospitably offered to keep our extra gear until we returned at the end of our 12 day trek. Wishing us luck, the hotel staff bid us farewell as we walked the few minutes to arrive in Les Houches, a beautiful little community laden with flowers bursting from the balconies, bridges and along the streets. Our starting point, the Bellevue Cableway, was easily found in the center of the town. We boarded this cable car and were whisked away up the mountain to begin our counter-clockwise trek around Mont Blanc.
From the cable car we could see Les Houches and Chamonix fading away in the distance.
At the top of the lift, the first trail sign was sighted.
As the walk began we were able to get glimpes through the trees of our lunch destination, Col de Tricot, some 1650′ higher, up the mountainside.
Entering a large rocky meadow just below the Glacier de Bionnassay, we promptly lost the trail. We made several unsuccessful attempts to cross a roaring stream that flowed from the glacier, but had to retrace our steps to find the trail. I don’t know how we missed the trail, which was rather obvious. Back on the trail, we found the suspension bridge that allowed us to safely cross the glacial torrent.
We reached a mountain gap, the Col de Tricot, after several hours of sustained climbing. This saddle commanded a superb view in all directions and was the perfect spot to take off our packs and relax for a while. We were not the only ones who made this decision!
Moving on, the Refuge de Miage, could be seen 2000′ below as we scrambled down the switchbacks leading to the valley floor.
By the time we reached the Refuge de Miage, the warm afternoon had us longing for a cool drink. We stopped to enjoy a sparkling apple juice before the next climb.
Having climbed the Mont Truc ridge crest we reached the very attractiveAuberge du Truc. The view down to the Val Montjoie from here had me wishing that we were staying here for the night.
After an easy 1.5 hour downhill, we entered Les Contamines-Montjoie, another charming village adorned with a multitude of flowers.
As we turned to walk down the main street, the first large building to be seen was a lovely church with a mountain backdrop.
Our very basic abode for the night in Les Contamines was Refuge du CAF (French Alpine Club) with a rather eccentric host.
Upon arrival, we were told that we had not confirmed our reservation so our reservation had been canceled. I had the confirmation email and the French-speaker in our group, Frankie, was able to convince the host. We finally did get a room for the night. (Tip: always have your confirmation documents with you.)
There was a lot of excitement in the dining room as everyone was spending their first night on the trail. We met many people that night that we came to know as friends by the end of the trek!