Monday, October 12, 2009

MBT Stage I - Chamonix to Les Contamines

Chamonix is surrounded by the Mont Blanc Massif.

Marc enjoying his first, but certainly not last, panini in Chamonix, France.

Best Microbrew Pub in town - Microbrasserie de Chamonix or MBC.

Even better it is run by Canadians.
Marc enjoying a nice pint and I a glass of red wine.

Large portion of burger with rockfort cheese, fries and coleslaw.

Veggie burger was massive with roasted eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini, chickpea spread, lettuce, cheese and tomato. Served with salad and coleslaw. Needless to say I was full after, but man was it delicious. Good fuel for the hike the following day.

View of Chamonix in the morning before the hike. Clear skies.

Marc walking to find us some breakfast in Chamonix. We decided to hop on the bus from Chamonix to Les Houches and find a bakery there.

Bakery in Les Houches directly across from the telepherique du Bellevue. We bought a baguette with jambon, beurre and cornichons (ham, butter and cheese on a baguette). The fresh bread was so delicious. We ate it on the way up the telepherique du Bellevue, after shooting back an espresso at the cafe next to the Bakery.

Telepherique du Bellevue.

Because we decided on trekking the alternative route versus the main route, we took the telepherique du Bellevue, which brought us from about 1100ft to 1645ft and cut 2½ hours off our trek. We choose the alternative route as the views were supposedly much more spectacular than the main route and it did not disappoint. Considering the alternative route for Stage 1 is 18km and about 8 hrs of hiking (not including stoppage time) with a height gain of 1478m and loss of 1318m, we thought that taking the telepherique was a good way not to burn ourselves out on the first day.

The telepherique brought us to the Col de Voza. From here we trekked the alternative route towards Les Contamines. This route took us over a cable bridge and through an open field full of wild blueberries, where we could see the Glacier de Bionnassay in the backdrop.

Signs pointing us in all directions, we choose the alternative route to get the highest elevation possible, and the better views.

Suspension bridge.

Field of wild blueberries.

Making sure we take the right route (thank you Kev Reynolds). The path continued gradually upward towards the Col de Tricot at which point you can see the Refuge de Miage in the valley below.

Amazing view of the Mont Blanc....very bright out.

Stopped for lunch on the trek down to Miage. Cheese, crackers, cherry tomatoes, chorizo sausage....this would prove to be lunch for many days.

At Miage we were able to fill up your platypus with ice cold refreshing glacier water coming out of an old wooden barrel.
Hotel Mont Joly, Les Contamines

After 6 ½ hours and 16km of hiking we arrived in Les Contamines and found our way to our B&B - Mont Joly. Nice place good location, if coming from main route, but if taking alternative route, like we did, try to find lodging closer to the start of Stage II. We were able to take theh free local bus to the start of the trail head. In addition, there are cheaper places to stay, but if money not a concern, this place is cute, nice hosts, and decently priced.

Knowing that the next two nights of our trek would have us high in the Alps with no access to grocery stores, we stocked up on lunch and snack foods from the Huit a Huit in town.

Normally 7pm would be a perfect time to dine, but after a long day of hiking we were desperate to eat something substantial. Considering none of the restaurants serve dinner until 7pm, we went to a boulangerie where we bought a small pizza and baguette with sliced egg, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, pesto and cheese. We picked up some beer and wine from the Huit a Huit and sat in the park enjoying a picnic dinner.

Stage I - Summary

Route: Alternative
Total hours: 6 hours (if take telepherique and 8 hours if not)
Total Kilometers: 16km
Total Elevation Gain: 4848’
Total Elevation Loss: 1318’
Accommodations: Mont Joly

Cost: 61 € for 2 people for bed and breakfast
Meal: Pizza and Baguette Sandwich from Boulangerie
Grocery Store: Huit a Huit

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