Courmayeur to Chamonix (trail running): Day 3 - Trient to Chamonix
Looking for advice on what to bring, or how to plan this trip yourself? Try this link :)
Sitting up slowly, it's like an 2000-era computer as my body went through it's start-up sequence. shoulders - check. back - check. ass - feels like glutes have been used. Upper legs - fairly sure they used to stretch further? Lower legs - hmmm, dull ache. Feet - good to go!
Day 3 meant we had a well-dialled system for packing and leaving so it was the earlier of the three starts as we were on the move by 8am, strolling through Trient village with a nice American couple hearing stories of various adventures they'd partaken in - I love Americans who've traveled!
Today, myself and Naomi's plan was to definitely stick to the UTMB route so as passed the final houses of the village, the TMB continued on its gradual rise out along the valley floor......whereas we looked right and headed straight up the nearby hill. I'm in awe - you're meant to just do this as part of the UTMB after having already done 150KM?!?!? WOW.
The less-traveled path turned out to have an interesting start. As we approached a herd of cattle, the leading bull decided we weren't welcome. It's the first time I've ever been scared with cattle - I was probably only a few metres from him when he started stomping his feet and made a head-fake about running at us. Proper brown-trouser moment as we quickly scurried up the hill, bypassing the trails! After this, it was 'just' a straight-up-the-side-of-a-steep-hill push for 600metres vertical before a lovely trail running along the back of one of the many mountains.
As it happens, this was where we went off-route. Again. Getting complacent with respect to following signs, we neglected to truly keep an eye on the advisory notice in our trusty guidebook. "After the cable car pole, turn off right before descending down to Valorcine"..... As you'll see from the photos below, there's a certain cable car we should have been turning at. Oops!
From a route perspective, we didn't really care about not following the UTMB route as by the time we'd realised, we'd already re-joined the primary Tour du Mont Blanc route. What DID matter was our main reason for wanting to follow the UTMB route: Trient didn't have any shops as we'd learned the hard way and were essentially out of any food. Valorcine had been our destination to re-stock as it was another 30-odd kilometre day which was going to be very problematic without nourishment. Hmmm. As it happened, by not dropping into Valorcine we knocked around 7km off the total distance and instead of having to climb up to the Col du Montets which signifies the entry to the Chamonix valley, instead we made a very steep descent which dropped us off directly at the Col. Nice! From there, we looked at a local refuge for food, realised there was a massive queue and made the instantaneous decision to dash straight onto Argentiere and the main supermarket. Food has never tasted so good :)
As it happened, by dropping down to Argentiere, that also left us with the interesting conundrum. We were now down on the valley floor and it would have been quite easy for us just to gradually descend along this same valley floor all the way into Chamonix. However, the TMB/UTMB route doesn't do that, instead - you guessed it - it heads straight back up the mountain to the hut and cable car at La Flegere. Thankfully we chose the latter one as Naomi stood up and declared we should go for the final climb and proper route, although I have to say if she had said we weren't into it, I'm not sure I would have debated or had the drive to persuade her (my Brain was silently screaming to just down the road, I must admit :) Thankfully, fully fuelled again, and earphones in (for only the second time in the three days), we pushed on with a solid steady pace to the La Flegere station, before the final celebratory descent into Chamonix.
Who knew running, jogging and walking for three days could be so much fun? In the end, it's an unusual ending to the mini-adventure of ours: you arrive into the middle of Chamonix looking tired, dirty, unkempt and just a little jaded. However, you could say the same about probably half the people in Chamonix so no one really realises you've just been on your own piece of fun! Instead, it's a trek to the main statue in the town centre, big smiles for a photo, high fives between yourselves to celebrate your own private moment.
And then find the nearest ice-cream stall!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed. Looking for advice on what to bring, or how to plan this trip yourself? Try this link :)