July 24, 2019
The Hotel Bouton d’Or had an excellent breakfast and we made the most of it. They had eggs, meats, fruit compote, yogurt, sweet breads, cherry tomatoes—you name it, they had it. This gave us a good start to the day.
We were on our way before 9 am, just in time to see our big duffle bag being taken away in an unmarked white van. Today’s route started at the church square so we headed up there and followed the signs up one of the streets. Soon the street turned into a lane which led to a trailhead. And up we went.
We spent most of the morning climbing up the trail to Rifugio Bertone. It was fairly steep but it didn’t have steps, which was good. We took it slowly with frequent rest stops, since the elevation gain was 770 meters in 3.5 kilometers. As we got higher the views opened up, with Courmayeur down below us looking very small. And then at about 11:30 am we could suddenly see a building above us. This was the rifugio.
It was a busy place with lots of tables outside. We found one in the shade—the sun was pretty hot again—and bought a couple of drinks to go with the sandwiches that the Bouton d’Or had made for us. It was perfectly timed for a rest stop.
And now we had another decision to make: should we continue on the regular TMB, the Armina route, around the side of the ridge, or should we take the scenic route with another 650 meters of elevation gain? Well, by now we had a lot of experience with bad decisions so it wasn’t hard, off we went on the regular TMB.
It started out level and contoured around the hill, with amazing views of the Mont Blanc massif. We were also treated to numerous wildflowers, some of which we hadn’t seen before. From time to time we came across farm buildings, usually ugly cement buildings with rusting and broken metal roofs. Only one of them had a large herd of cattle in its fields.
The afternoon went quickly and before we knew it we were approaching Rifugio Bonatti. It was just above us on a hill, and it didn’t take us long to climb up there. We took off our boots and checked in. The boot room was supplied with hut slippers for us to wear, one size fits all. It took a bit of practice for us to walk while wearing them.
The rifugio was very smart and new-looking. We were shown our private room—no bunk beds here! And they even provided sleeping sheets. However we had no view from our room.
Dinner was at 6:45 pm and it was amazing. One of the best meals we’d had on the trip so far. We started off with a delicious salad (grated carrots, chopped apples, lettuce, and mixed seeds), followed by a bean soup. For the main course we had an egg and vegetable omelette with cooked cabbage and mashed potatoes, and dessert was spumoni ice cream.
Breakfast tomorrow morning would start at 6:15 am so we went to bed fairly early.