TMB – Day 3: Lac Blanc – Chamonix
I have to admit I was little bummed when our TMB itinerary did not take us down to Chamonix, place I’ve heard so much about but since we’re trying to also fit The Haute Route into our schedule, we decided it was for the best to enjoy the view of this climbing Mecca from above only. But as it often goes when trekking, if you want something badly enough, the trail will provide.
We left Lac Blanc at 7:45 a.m. I was hoping to capture reflection of Mt. Blanc but the lake was too rippled to capture any reflection at all and besides Mount Blanc was successful hiding behind clouds so we started walking without procrastination.
Shortly after the Refuge, there was a sign informing us about a trail closure due to a trail maintenance lower down. We met several hikers who assured us the closure applied only for the afternoons as the crews were not working in the morning so we all hopped over the yellow tape and continued hiking the trail.
The crew was working, big excavator ripping pieces of land to lay the new trail. Weather was coming in and they felt like they needed to make some progress before the next storm. Luckily we did not get scolded or fined, the foreman pointed us to a path to avoid walking in direct line below the excavator, and we all happily continued to go about out business.
Before we reached the bottom and Refuge Le Flégère the rain started to fall, few drops first, but soon it gained on intensity and our rain coats went on. Hindsight 20/20 I’d also put my rain pants on. They got soaked by the time we reached the Refuge which, and it this adverse weather it broke our hearts, we found closed.
We hid under a roof of nearby restaurant which was also closed, waiting the strongest of the storm out.
It never completely ceased to rain, though sometimes the rain got lighter, and during those times we stopped to pick berries or enjoy the peek-a-boo views the nature allowed us to have today.
It was obvious it was not going to stop raining any time soon and so we bailed and when an opportunity arose to take a trail down to the valley, we chose to take it. Some people say the views from this stage are the best of the Tour. We did not want to miss them. We did not want to get completely drenched either. And so two hours later we walked into Chamonix where we booked a room, took long hot bath, and explored the picturesque mountain town. By the time evening rolled in, the clouds started to dissipate with a promise of good hiking weather when we return to the trail tomorrow.
Notes: August 7, 2019
Refuge Le Flégère is closed. There is no service available whatsoever in the area. Plan accordingly, bring enough food and especially water.
Couple camping spots are available by a small lake (I assume it might dry up during later season) within 40 minutes past Le Flégère (going counter clockwise). They are pretty but do not have the grand views you’d have at the lakes higher up; however if you are expecting bad weather they might be a better choice.
Chamonix is charming town with breathtaking views. Touriststy, yes. But in a good way. You will see many hikers and climbers mixed with the regular tourists so don’t be afraid to show up in your hiking clothes.
We found a room at Hotel Richemond for €145 a night. Basic but large room and large bathroom with a tub, and breakfast is included in price. On the other hand, wi-fi sucks. Big plus is the location, right in city center.
If you need any gear replaced, you will find any large outdoor company represented in Chamonix and several generic sport stores.
People in information center are knowledgeable about the town but also the Tour, if you have any questions, stop by and ask.
Had dinner at La Bartavel. Pizza was really good. Pasta was ok. Both were reasonably priced. Tap water was free.
Such a beautiful town