The day before…
That night we were enclosed in the tent for 12 hours straight. The rain was persistently coming down all night long and only at 7am it seemed to stop. We were very worried because of this unstable weather and the forecast was predicting the similar rainy conditions of the day before. And our plans were quite big if we were going to continue the trail. We needed to get to the foot of the mountain that was in 6 kms then do a steep and snowy uphill and descend down to the village Fouly in Switzerland. So we made our mind to have this day off the trail because of the weather and because we didn’t start the day at a proper time and also didn’t have enough food supplies. So we went back to the town Courmayeur, Italy once again taking the bus. Fortunately there was a bus line that was circulating every hour to the town and back. We did our shopping there, bought some food and got back to the Val Ferret but this time we asked the bus driver to stop at the campsite that was on our way. We wanted to rest for some time, gather the powers for the big next day to come. And it was a great opportunity to do so. So all we did was eating, resting and unwinding that day, having at least half of the day without carrying backpacks.
Day 9 of the TMB
It was a first bright sunny morning after a long time. We had the coldest night in our tent, the temperature was probably going down to 5 degrees Celsius. So we were more than happy to see the sun coming out and be able to warm up everything. We noticed that the temperature at night susprisingly didn’t depend that much on the elevation we were and could be the same at 1000m and at 2000m for some reason.
The camping Grandes Jorasses we stayed in was nice, not very clean but maybe it was because of the wet weather – the floors were a bit dirty. We stayed in a specially dedicated area for the tents in the forest. It was a family owned and managed camping as we understood it and so the atmosphere was very family like.
We left the camping at 9am to catch the bus that took us to Chalet Val Ferret Arnouva Desot. This way we could start the trail and climbing the mountain right away and didn’t have to walk another extra kms along the car road.
Waiting at the bus stop we gazed up and finally saw the Mont Blanc in all its majesty – there was no single cloud around it. It happens so rarely and we witnessed it for the second time starting from Chamonix. The view was breathtaking.
After 15 min of a bus ride we were at the place to start the hike. Right from the beginning the path went quite a steep uphill. After 5 minutes of climbing the big beautiful waterfall opened to our eyes. It was sparkly shiny in the magical morning backlight. We did some photos of it and continued on with the trail.
The path was going constantly quite a steep uphill. In some places there was a snow left and we had to pass through the slippery snowy sidehills. It is especially dangerous because it was melting already and could broke down any moment. Also there were several waterfalls and bridges to go through.
Then we got to the Refugee house Elena searched for the water source and there wasn’t any so we just collected some water from a river. And started to ascend the Grand Col Ferret mountain. The path was going in a zig zagging mode so it wasn’t extreme nor too difficult. In some places there was quite a bit of mud and it was very easy to slip on it as well as to wetten the shoes. On the last part there was a snowy cap on a sidehill but it was quite flat luckily.
So we got to the top of Grand Col Ferret and from there we could see the borders of the 3 countries that we crossed: France on the other side of the valley, Italy down in the valley and now Switzerland in front of us. The views were unforgettable from there with the snowy patterns on the mountains, abrupt and spiky rocks and perfectly clear polarizer sky.
We already saw that the way down isn’t going to be easy because there was quite a bit of snow left. Some parts were steeper, some parts were flatter but overall it was quite challenging to do. We found that doing the downhill required more effort most of the time as the weight is pushing you down and the knees are working very hard. But with the snow it becomes quite a lot harder because of unstable and slippery ground that can go down any moment. We learnt that we don’t enjoy walking in the snow also because you’re concentrating so much on the path that you don’t have a possibility to look around and relax. Everything is very tense and concentrated. So you end up missing a lot of the views on the way. We would love to do the same trails but without snow here – we’re sure it would be quite a different experience.
On the downhill we met several marmots that were running up and down the hills. Also to our surprise we met several cyclists who carried their mountain bikes up the trail. And it was crazy to think that they were going to come down with their bikes from all that mud, snow and unstable rocks with steep paths.
When the snowy part was over we descended quite fast to the refugee La Peule and there we saw lots and lots of spotty cows on the hills. There we even saw a small milking machine so probably they made a fresh milk products right at the place.
The weather was burning hot and we felt that we probably sunburnt quite a lot that day. We walked without a single shadow for 5 hours straight and when we went down to the river we felt dizzy and probably it was all because of the extreme strong sunlight magnified by the snow as well. So we washed our faces with the cold spring water, had our lunch break in the shadow and left to do another 5 kms to the village La Fouly.
This last part was very easy going on the car road and passing through small villages, idyllic grassy fields and sheep pastures. The sun was setting down and it felt better to walk at this time of the day.
Very soon we got to our destination village La Fouly and went straight to the supermarket to buy some food. Right away we noticed a different currency on the price tags and were a bit confused about it. But hoped it to be equivalent to euros. The prices were very expensive. For example two tomatoes costed us 1.20 euro, simple white bread 2.20 euros and so on so forth. It turned out that the exchange rate is higher for the euros than local francs so we ended up paying even more. So we had to learn about the exchange rates more apparently.
We didn’t expect for the campsite to be cheap at all and in the end it costed 23 euros which wasn’t that expensive actually as we paid around same price in some places even in Spain. But when we actually got to explore it a bit we absolutely fell in love with it. It was very spacious green area partly in the forest with very big pitches. There wasn’t any cabins or houses just the pitches for camper vans and tents. We could pick any place we liked the most. There was a free wifi connection covering most of the camping as well which is rarely happens. The facilities were all in a very good condition and clean. But as always the best part is the location – it was surrounded by the high mountain summits from all sides. Tour de Mont Blanc together with plenty other trails goes right through this camping. There was a playground and adventure park right in the campsite. So we can highly recommend this camping to stay in – it got everything you need for a backpacker and good quiet rest is guaranteed there.
It was interesting to notice different things about Switzerland and making real opinion about it. Because before visiting this country all we knew was a secure bank system, good watch craft, chocolate and milk products and that’s about it. So we were really excited to discover more about it.
Here is the link to Google map to follow the hike: