July 29, 2019
We were up at 6:45 am to pack up the big duffle bag for the last time. We had a fairly short walk planned for today so we didn’t need a super-early start. The rain had stopped, the clouds had gone away, and the weather forecast was looking good.
Our route headed uphill towards the Col de Montets, where we crossed over a main road and started climbing into the Aiguilles Rouges natural area. The day was cool so it was perfect weather for a steep climb. Both of us felt good climbing up the trail, so we were obviously in much better shape than we were 10 days ago. But we carefully avoided the route which involved climbing 30-meter vertical ladders!
In the natural area we watched out for the Lammergeiers which are supposed to be there, but we didn’t see any. However we did see several large male ibexes. They were right by the trail, obviously habituated to people’s presence. Their horns were so big that the animals could use them to scratch their rear ends! The views were spectacular, which made the day all that much more enjoyable.
We got to the high point and decided to have lunch there, even though it was only 11:30 am. Sitting there we were able to see Common Swifts flying by at our level. In the towns we saw them in flocks, screaming loudly, but here they were flying singly and silently.
After lunch our route had us descending towards La Flégère. Part of the way was very steep, so we went carefully, and then it levelled out to contour around the hillside. We had the option to go via Lac Blanc, but we had been there when we stayed at La Flégère three years ago so we skipped that.
This summer both the cable car and refuge at La Flégère were closed for major renovations, so we had to continue along the Grand Balcon Sud to Planpraz before we could descend to Chamonix for the night. This added another five kilometers to our day’s walk. The trail wasn’t too bad but there were a few sectors which had a lot of height exposure. We just looked away from the drop-offs and it was mostly okay.
A bit after 4 pm we arrived at Planpraz, and both of us were very happy that our day was almost finished. Before descending we stopped at a restaurant there for drinks. This was the place that our guidebook had singled out for having 22-euro burgers. The burgers were still on the menu and the drinks were expensive but not horrendously expensive.
The cable car ride down to Chamonix went very quickly and before we knew it we were at the bottom, on the outskirts of the town. We saw some people walking down the trail under the cable car; it was really steep so we were glad to have had the cable car option. Once down it was a short downhill walk to Hotel Richemond.
Up in our room we unpacked our bags and then had showers. It felt so good to be clean, and it felt like we had finished the TMB. But there was still the small detail of walking to Les Houches to close the loop.
For dinner we went out to Le Serac, which was just down the street from our hotel. Both of us had huge salads—Paul had a Savoyarde and Rosemary’s was vegetarian—and they were both excellent. Tonight we decided to have desserts as well—chocolate mousse for Paul and crème brulée for Rosemary.