TMB Day 3 – Rifugio Bonatti to Courmayeur – Bonatti View Camp to Bunny Slope Camp
Kilometers hiked: 16-ish
Total Kilometers: 52
Cowboying was the right choice as we made it through the night dry and comfortable. After a heated debate of planet versus airplane(planet for sure), I fell asleep staring at the moonlit mountains painted on our doorstep. I awoke at 2am with a shift in the wind, thinking I smelled petrichor moving our way following the clouds that now obscured the stars and planet/planes. In a moment of weakness, I decided to setup the tarp. Fortunately, Spice Rack was having none of that and convinced me to remain a risky cowboy. Back to sleep. One eye open.
A lucky break had me awake at 6am. What I saw had me cry out literal gobbledygook. Clear skies, sun kissed summits alight with orange alpenglow towering over the shadowed valley. Mont Blanc and the Grandes Jorasses were the dominant peaks, but many others that I can’t pronounce filled out a stacked roster of alpine legends. I thought for sure my gibberish eruption had awoken Spice, but we remained silent for the next two hours as warmth crept up the valley to our perch. Turns out Spice was asleep the whole time. Whoops.
It was all we could do to get moving by 10am again. And the moving was good as we strolled mindfully up the Vallon de Malatra, a wide glacial valley of green pasture hemmed by steep walls of shale dotted with snowfields. A sharp climb past some sky cows brought us to Pas Entre-Deux-Sauts(2524m) before immediately dropping into the next valley, similar to the last, but full of cows and wildflowers. There was a short cow-jam crossing a creek, then a sharper climb that put us on Col Sapin(2436m). Turning right, the sharpest climb of all, ludicrously sharp in fact, found us on the summit of Tete de la Tronche(2684m).
This was the most spectacular viewpoint yet. Even though wisps of cloud sat atop the highest summits, the full panorama was devoid of uninteresting things to look at. All mountains, all valley, all awesome, all the way back into Switzerland. Spice and I set up a picnic of bread, cheese, and chocolate for lunch, lounged in the sun, and tracked the tiny ant-hikers below. Difficult as the conditions were, we only lingered for an hour before the long drop to Courmayeur.
We enjoyed walking of the most blissful variety along the grassy crest of Mont de la Saxe then skidded steeply to Rifugio Bertone(pronounced bert-one) where we joined the next throng of Counters at a sputtering spigot. We were happy to see our friends, the Inns, again just as they were shouldering packs to continue hiking. It’s always a pleasure to meet people so full of life and love. Perhaps seeing them sadly for the last time, Spice made sure to ask them their secret. “Never take each other for granted.” Werd. Lazy with warmth and intoxicating pine scent, our final dive flowed by in an Italian calm that led us to the picturesque downtown of Courmayeur.
Our time in the town was far from relaxing however. Neither of us was particularly desperate for anything a bougie resort could provide so we tried to be economical with our time, which wasn’t helped by our lack of Italian. We survived the tiny market, buying one of two jars of peanut butter in the whole city, failed to find wifi capable of anything, ate four beats without shame, got lost a little bit, and ate pizza. Spice also managed to track down some amazing focaccia that will fuel us for awhile. With the sun long set behind the high mountains, we boogied out to find a place to camp before dark. We were happy to leave Courmayeur behind. It wasn’t set up for our kind of hiker trash and had us feeling trashier than usual. Happy, full of life, but trashy.
We thought better of starting the next major ascent, opting to cowboy camp in a grassy ski slope overlooking the beautifully clean town full of beautifully clean people. Tiny Italian dogs too. The lights have a clean twinkle to them. Warm down at 1226m, the crickets and flowing water put us to sleep. What an incredible day. It keeps getting better.
Bonsoir. Arrivederchi. Adio. Buona sera. Prego. Bonne journee. Bon voyage. Salut. Ciao. Merci. Gratzi. Fromage. Formaggio. S’il vous plait. Bon jovi. Bon iver. Spaghetti.