Statistics: mileage 10.5 miles ascent 2822′ descent 4423′ 7 hours

We were up early and as we entered the dining area of Maison Vieille for breakfast, Giacomo greeted us with a big smile.

Reluctantly, we prepared to leave this lovely Rifugio in which we had been made to feel so welcome. Giacomo encouraged us to take a bus from Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti, our destination today, because of the weather. Having enjoyed the walk so much to date, we decided to press on and walk the day’s planned route. Giacomo followed us out to bid us good-bye, as we set out on a steep path through the middle of several ski runs near the rifugio, down to Courmayeur. Just before Courmayeur we came upon Dolonne, an attractive village with narrow, picturesque streets.

Leaving Dolonne, we crossed the Dora Baltea River and entered Courmayeur. This beautiful mountain town was a hub of activity, including everything from high end shopping to buses.. My big purchase was a new visor as mine had disappeared somewhere near Col du Bonhomme days earlier. Walking through the town, we saw our hiking friends, who had to leave the trail due to injury, waiting for the bus. They told us of another friend who had injured her feet and had dropped out as well. We were feeling rather fortunate that the four of us were injury free!

Leaving Courmayeur we began to climb rather quickly in a steady rain. Due to the sustained ascent, we were quite warm and could not bear to wear our rain jackets. We arrived at Rifugio Bertone almost three hours later soaking wet.

Entering this rifugio, we picked our way over wet backpacks strewn around the door and entered a room full of damp hikers. We revived after a bowl of minestrone and a pot of hot tea and were ready to strike out on the trail again. Continuing on an upward path we could get glimpses of the mountains through the clouds.

Even in the rain and clouds, the views were amazing! This view on a clear day highlights Mont Blanc, the Aiguille Noire and the Grandes Jorasses.

The rain contributed to torrents filling the waterfalls tumbling down the mountainside toward the Val Ferret, the valley deep down below us.

Soon the path began to cross high mountain pastureland as we walked along the shoulder of the Mont de la Saxe.

Occasionally we ducked into a forest of larchwood, pine trees, juniper, and bilberry.

Once again in open pastureland, we descended to the buildings of Alp Arminaz via a bridge.

After three hours of walking from Rif. Bertone we reached Rifugio Bonatti, a splendid, fairly new refuge with all the amenities that hikers would need. It was very clean, had wonderful food, was comfortable, atmospheric and very inviting. The huge drying room was in full use with everyone’s wet gear.

We settled in to our cozy room for four and headed to the dining area for some thick and lovely sipping chocolate!

Dinner was sumptuous, consisting of cheese and apple salad, pasta, quiche, potatoes, carrots and raspberry torte! We stayed in the dining room for some time visiting with many new hiking friends.

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