Tour du Mont Blanc – The Refuge Dining Room

Posted on July 31, 2013. Filed under: France, Italy, Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB Refuge Dining Rooms

An interesting dynamic can happen in the refuge dining rooms along the Tour du Mont Blanc.  Here we are in the Refuge Bonhomme after dinner.  You can see the terra cotta pichet of wine on the table readying everyone for a great chat!  Within a short time we had about 6 people all from different countries exploring world views well into the night.  It was like an impromptu united nations meeting!  There were some uncomfortable pointed questions at us as Americans, but we found the whole experience very interesting.  Keeping a respectful approach while explaining when we disagreed worked to allow conversation to flow and everyone ended with a clap on the back, a handshake and big smiles.  If this happens to you take the opportunity to learn about other peoples’ views, just remember to be pleasant. Just think about how incredible the Tour du Mont Blanc is that it brings people from all over the world together for one purpose, if just for a short time.

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Crossing Into Italy on the Tour du Mont Blanc

Posted on May 17, 2013. Filed under: Exercise, France, Italy, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB Mottets 1A stop for lunch at the Refuge les Mottets on the Tour du Mont Blanc is a good idea.  You still have a lot of hiking, a lot of uphill (up-mountain) hiking to do to reach the Col de la Seigne where you pass into Italy.  This is the only day I cried on the TMB!  From this point on it was so much uphill and I had marked a spot in the far distance where the pack mules had turned around a corner.  It looked like the highest point so I (stupidly) thought, “When I make it to there I will almost be at the Col.”  My group had left me in the dust.  I was alone save for the other hikers passing me up regularly!  I finally reached the mule-turning spot just as 2 fairly elderly people came trucking by and quickly passed me up when the trail turned and what did I see?  More uphill to go!!  Yep, a few tears were shed because I was bone-tired, and ready for the downhill that would surely come after the Col.

Travel - TMB Mottets 2Ah, you know what, that’s ok, because a little cry can clear out the cobwebs and give you some new perspective.  I dug down deep and kept going.  What else could I do?  And as far as the people passing me?  Well, they obviously grew up in mountains and had been hiking in mountains all their lives, so I was comparing apples to oranges!

The Col was actually not that much farther.  So when I got to the pillar that marked the border I was relieved.  My group was waiting for me and we had a little picture time and rest.  It is amazing how just a little rest can make all the difference.

Travel - TMB Mottets 3

There is no border protection at these hiking crossings.  I guess it’s too grueling to get there for criminals!  One thing you’ll notice is how windy it always is at the top of a Col.  It’s like a big funnel for the air moving around the mountains.  The views are always spectacular.  And of course, now the downhill does start, which comes with its own problems.  Even gentle downhill becomes painful after a few hours of it and in the mountains it can be hours of one or the other, uphill or downhill.  At first, though, after all the struggle to get up here, the first 1/4 mile feels so good and easy!  Yes, it’s only about that far before you realize this is actually going to be harder because you are jamming your joints with each step fighting the pull of gravity rather than muscling up against it.  At least here you are now heading into the last stretch and you know a shower, meal, and bed are waiting.  For us it was at Rifugio Elisabetta which was quite a treat.

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Windows of the Tour du Mont Blanc

Posted on March 24, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Photography, Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB windows 5Just images today.  This is out the window of the loo at Rifugio Elisabetta.  Mountain with glacier beyond and just the lovliest little window!

 Travel - TMB windows 4A little red door in the Swiss town of Praz de Fort.  Strangely, no one was sighted in this little town as we wandered through!

Travel - TMB windows 3Praz de Fort again, I think, on one of the really old barns right next to the route.

 Travel - TMB windows 2This was either Praz de Fort or Issert, two charming little towns in Switzerland right next to each other so that you aren’t sure which one you are actually in.  Again, not a single local person sighted.  It was oddly quiet but very beautiful.

 Travel - TMB windows 1A little white lace and a white potted flower and the window intriguingly open just a bit.  Courmayeur, Italy.

All photos used on this blog are the sole property of Mary McCluskey.  If you wish to use one, please be polite and ask.

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Tour du Mont Blanc Again

Posted on March 8, 2013. Filed under: Exercise, France, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB

Today I’m revisiting my hiking adventure in the Alps.  Here I am on day 1 of the trip.  My shoulders didn’t ache yet!  But I also didn’t know the beauties that lie in store for me over the next 13 days.  This is the second day I ever saw a glacier in my life.  The day before was the first.  Driving from the airport in Geneva to Chamonix, France I couldn’t believe the gorgeous mountains with their glaciers!  I am wearing KEEN hiking boots and I was extremely happy with them.  I trudged right through many mountain streams that crossed the trail over all those days and not only didn’t I feel a drop of wet, but I felt sure footed throughtout.  I also never had a blister or really even sore feet much at all.  I attribute this to my KEEN boots!

Travel - TMB Boots

Here is one of the boot racks at Rifugio Elisabetta in Italy.  I must say I was reluctant to leave my boots unattended!  Hard to believe anyone would nick them, though, being that they were anything but clean!  And no one did, thankfully!

Travel - TMB Trient, SwitzerlandThis is the town of Trient, Switzerland with it’s very picturesque pink church.  Bill and I still laugh about the conversation we had on the very long switchbacks leading us for over an hour down out of the mountains to this town.  We knew we were heading to a town with a prominent church because the directions to our hotel used it as a landmark.  When I first spotted the pink church way down in the valley I said, “That’s probably the church we are looking for to find our hotel.”  Bill agreed until we were so far past it he said, “I’m sure it’s a different town with a different church we are looking for.”  But, alas, no, we turned and headed all the way back even past this town again before turning again and again winding our way down until finally we confirmed that the pink church is indeed in Trient!  One thing everyone who does alpine hiking will tell you, “The downhill is much harder than the uphill.”  This proved very true the day we arrived in Trient!

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