7/16/16 – Auberge de la Nova to Courmayeur

Third day on the trail notes. Auberge de la Nova, Les Chapieux, France to Hotel Dolonne, Dolonne, Italy.

This day was another huge day. We began with what was basically a six or seven mile climb to the top of the Col de la Seigne. It was very warm this day but we were thankful for the heat as we had been cold a lot since we began. It was so warm that I went through 100 ounces of fluids during the 6 or so hours we were on the move. We think we saw Mt. Blanc during today’s march, but it’s hard to know which huge mountain is which. For those of you that don’t know, Mt. Blanc is over 15,000 feet. This means that from the town of Chamonix there an elevation change of around 12,000 feet. Definitely different that at home in Colorado.

The valleys we passed through were strewn with glaciers on the mountain sides and cows and sheep in the valleys. As noted in earlier emails the scenery is wonderful so I’ll not go on about it again.

After passing over the first climb we descended into a lovely valley where we made good time on the flat part of the trail. The next pass was called the Col de Checrouit or something to that effect. It was shorter than the first climb but at least it was steeper. I got to practice my glissading skills on some of the snow fields on the way down from this pass. That means I got to slide on my rear down the snow field as that was a particularly good way to travel between sections of the trail that were somewhat hidden by the snow.

Eventually we began coming across signs of the Courmayeur ski area. Really it was the ski lifts that gave it away and not so much the signs, but we are sharp like that.

Finally we began to see TMB signs that pointed us towards our destination for the evening, Dolonne, Italy. Dolonne sits directly across a river from the actual village of Courmayeur. We did not anticipate the nearly straight drop that was to be our descent into Dolonne. We are no longer fond of switchbacks. 3,500 feet down in about 2.5 miles or so. After 17 or 18 miles, that is getting near enough to really steep. Finally in to Dolonne, we stopped our watches at 19 miles because we had to wander around a bit to find the Hotel Dolonne.

If one were to picture an Italian village with narrow streets made of cobble stones and closely spaced buildings with slate roofs, one would be picturing Dolonne.

After some searching and a little help from an old Italian man, we found what was for us a five star hotel. We had our own room with its own shower and bathroom. Hotel Dolonne was without doubt the nicest accommodation on the trail so far. The inside is like a castle in that it’s all made of stone with a staircase that winds around and around to get from one floor to the next. It also had fairly low archways for those of us not vertically challenged.

Being the wimps that we are and only able to carry 3 days worth of supplies, we had arranged for a bag to meet us at the hotel. We were very excited for things like clean clothes and Listerine.

We took our time cleaning up well and washing out our clothes. We had also put extra snacks in our transfer bag and after such a long day we needed them.

We were told that dinner was not until 7:30 , but if we were to show up at 7:15 that would be ok. Since it was about 3pm at the time, we were quite certain that we would starve before dinner. Thankfully we didn’t starve and made it to dinner because it was great. This being Italy, there was antipasto set up right as we walked in so we didn’t even have to wait to eat something. We both piled our plates with lettuce, tomato, corn, pinto beans and bell peppers. While we were demolishing the antipasto the waitress came over to see about our first course which was of course pasta. We informed them we needed to eat gluten free and they made us our very own pasta and sauce. This was the first simple carbohydrate we had really had other than potatoes and we were both feeling the need to cram as much in as we could. Next we had a slice of sautéed turkey with potatoes sautéed in sesame seeds. Both were very simply made but had good flavor. Lastly we were served a gelato that tasted like bananas with raspberry sauce on the top. It was all exactly what we needed and we felt fresher afterward. M even got sort of full! As usual I would have had another round of everything as it is hard to replace the 3,000 calories we had burned that day.

We had a good night’s sleep and thought we were ready for the next day’s “easy” ten miles! (Insert ominous music here.)

Top of Col de la Seigne and passing into Italy
A ski area sign…. Hmm…
Scenery! Approaching Col de Checrouit.
The streets in Dolonne