Monday, July 16, 2018
Start: Les Houches, Gite Michel Fagot
End: Les Contamines, Chalet CAF
Elevation: 5223′ gain, 4719′ descent
Stage: 1, variente taken
We woke up at 6am, had breakfast at 6:30am, and started out from Les Houches around 7:15am.
The first portion of the hike was a road walk, until we turned left and went up into the mountains.
The climb was fairly relentless and we were glad that it was early in the day; the sun was hot without shade. Interestingly, most of the elevation gain up to the Col de Voza was on a single track road passable by 4-wheel cars. Once at the Col de Voza, we refilled our water bottles at the public water supply, though the public bathroom was locked.
We considered our options, and ended up deciding to go with the variente.
We hiked through some beautiful wooded paths, crossed a Himalayan-style suspension bridge (which shook and swayed like woah), which spanned a river created by glacial run-off.
From there, we climbed.
And climbed and climbed, crossing some snow fields still left from winter.
Looking backwards, we had beautiful views of the Tramway du Monte Blanc, and we saw a train heading upwards into the mountains.
We summited Col de Tricot around 1 or 1:30pm. There were beautiful views of the Miage valley, with the Chalets de Miage visible in the distance.
From there, it was switch-backs down to the valley floor, somewhat steep but not comparable to Yosemite. Toby and I both passed everyone we saw on the downhill; it seems that people around here aren’t used to downhill hiking, nor technical hiking.
We arrived at the Refuge de Miage around 2pm and had lunch with beautiful views of the Domes de Miage.
Then we headed uphill for the final climb of the day (encountering a small light sprinkle of rain which quickly stopped), then up past Auberge du Truc, and then down towards the valley-town of Les Contamines.
We arrived in town around 5pm, and hit up a grocery store on the way to the Chalet CAF where we had reservations. We ended up in the 3rd floor bunk room with 4 other people, on top bunks. We had nice showers and a lovely dinner, and a beautiful view of the mountains from our balcony.
At dinner, the tables were assigned seating, grouping common languages together. We met Wayne and Gee, both from Australia, Nours and Suzie from Israel, and Michael from Ireland, and had lovely chats during the meal. We all ate at the same table in the morning for breakfast, and it looks like we’ll be seeing each other off and on during our trek. Sadly, during the night, the room got very warm, making it very difficult for me to sleep.
During the day, we met Robyn (from England) and Gee (from Australia) at the Col de Voza; Robyn is considering hiking the PCT next year and spontaneously decided to hike the TMB a few weeks ago, so she’s camping out most nights though we’ve been seeing her off and on while hiking. We also became friendly with two middle-aged Australian ladies as we leapfrogged each other throughout the day. It’s been a lot of fun to meet new people and see so many beautiful views!