TMB – Day 7: Les Contamines-Montjoie – Refuge des Mottets
The feeling of guilt for taking a day off melted away as soon as I looked up and saw beautiful peaks perched against perfectly blue sky. The moody feel of yesterday would have had its magic too, and part of me yearned to have that experience but walking through a thick misty layer of clouds would mean completely missing the highlights of this stage and so in the end I felt content with waiting the weather out. Plus it felt so good walking on the sun.
The first several miles took us through the town and then along a stream of sultry water rushing down the valley. The valley held several restaurants, campground, and I’m sure there were more hotels too along the way. A free shuttle but would run here several times a day but it was a pleasant walk, fourty minutes or so on a flat trail that let us enjoy the waking of the day and so we walked the distance.
Afterwards the trail started to gain elevation. We lost a decent amount of sweat on our way towards Col du Bonhomme, mostly because of the temperature raising close to 30C but some of the steeper parts were surely a culprit too. On our way we leap frogged with a couple from Vancouver, BC who stayed at the same hotel with us. We lost them at one of the water sources but we knew we would see them again as they were headed to the same Refuge tonight as we were.
Views from Col de Bonhomme were spectacular. I feel I overuse words like fantastic , stunning, spectacular but it is the reality here. The Alps do take your breath away, and sometimes when you huff and puff on an uphill in more than one way.
The next uphill wasn’t so bad. Only a thirty-minute walk, moderately steep. I liked the change in the landscape when we approached Col des Fours. There were sheets of red-tinted rock at the Col contrasting with the shades we typically have seen, and on the other side the path dropped us along a stream making its way down a slab that carried abstract pattern of lighter and dark streaks. The ravine where the stream carved its presence was surrounded by rolling hills carpeted by lush green tones. And then there was the high massive of dark rugged rock holding onto its glaciers, and the waterfalls the glaciers gave birth to. I’m going to use the word again, but I assure you, it’s deserved. It was a spectacular walk.
Refuge des Mottets sat in a valley with unobstructed views of the glaciated peaks. We arrived at 4:00 p.m. The weather was still nice with plenty of sunshine illuminating the peaks, but the wind picked up and we could see the clouds building up over the mountains. The next bound of rain was coming for us, it was inevitable, and we were glad we secured spots at the Refuge, which by the way was the biggest we have seen so far with hundred of beds or so. Both of us are now fighting a cold, thank you Dave, for giving it to me, and spending a dump rainy night in our tent would not be a best case scenario. Hopefully we can combine two stages tomorrow to get to the first Italian town, Cormayeur, where we can get more medicine.
NOTES: August 11, 2019
If you are rushed for time you can take a free shuttle from Les Contaminates to Norte Dame de la Garge. It will save you about 40-50 minutes of walking through the valley.
If weather is nice, and you don’t have accommodation booked at Les Chapieux, taking the alternate through Col des Fours is a very good option. The views are amazing spectacular. The guide book advises against taking the route in bad weather when there is poor visibility. I would not want to walk through the Col if there was a lightning storm but if you have some navigation skills, you should not find it difficult to follow the route even if the visibility drops.
Refuge des Mottets has plenty of beds available. Chances are you would be able to secure one. There is also camping nearby, by a rock building before you get to the refuge, space for 2 tents, and after the refuge, when you start the switchbacks, there was a spot for three more tents.
Dinner at Refuge des Mottets was a 5 course meal, filling and delicious. Breakfast was not as exciting, cereal with milk, bread and jam, and a hot beverage, choice of tea or coffee.
There is free hot shower available.