Thursday, July 19 2018
Start: Rifugio Elisabetta
End: Courmayeur, Italy; Hotel Berthod
Elevation: 2150′ gain, 5175′ descent
After a cozy but surprisingly solid night sleep, despite sleeping in a triple bunk with 22 other people, we were awake at 6am, breakfasted at 6:30am, and were on trail by 7am.
The morning started with a bit of downhill and then 30 minutes of flat, single track road walking to warm up, passing close to Lac Combal (a blue-green mountain lake, 1950m/6400′).
Then we had our climb of the day, up to Mont Favre Spur (2430m/7970′).
After summiting our day’s high point early in the day, we had some flat areas and gentle descents.
We stopped at Col Checrouit (1956m/6416′) for water, bathrooms, and snack time. We got to watch a pony wander through the picnic tables begging for a snack and then get shooed away by hostel staff.
From there, we descended towards Dolonne and Courmayeur, following some ski tracks and then a wooded path that paralleled the single track road.
After we reached the high station of a cable car from the valley below, the trail entered the woods again and steeply descended through the trees, often overshadowed by the cable cars, until it emerged into the outskirts of Dolonne.
From there, it was road walking into Courmayeur (1226m/4022′). The descent was long and had many steep sections that were hell on tired knees.
Along the wooded path, we met Guy, a young Israeli man who was looking for the path. We hiked together for maybe an hour or so until we reached Dolonne.
Once we arrived in town at 2pm, we went to our hotel, checked in, dropped our bags in our room, and went out to lunch. We got personal pizzas the size of hubcaps and it was delicious. We then went to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and a gelato place. Toby was also able to talk to our hotel and figure out where to buy contact lense moisturizing drops (since that’s not a pharmacy or grocery store item here), and had a conversation with the glasses shop owner, all in Italian.
We started laundry, showered, and then went downstairs in the hotel to their spa. It was a bit extra money ($15 each) but it was totally worth it. They had a steam room, a dry sauna, a relaxing room, a shower with jets from the floor to the ceiling, and a hot pool with three different kinds of jets, set up as three different stations (lounging back, sitting back and calves, and standing feet). And bonus, we had it to ourselves.
Afterwards, we went out for dinner and ended up picking a place where our two friends, Nours and Suzie, were eating. They invited us to sit with them, and we had a delicious Italian dinner together. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, hung out the last of our clothes to dry, and went to bed.