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Goodbye Au Revior, Hello Bonjourno

By Phil on 2013.08.19 In Tour du Mont Blanc

Despite yesterday’s crazy events, yet stunning day, we ended up in La Fouly. 2km back from Ferret (in Switzerland, not Val Ferret in Italy!) which we now call La Fooly after my cock up! There was no room at the village Auberge so they fixed us up with digs in their sister restaurant/bar.

We had a lovely meal at the Aunerge as well as trying to convince the locals to drink Pastis and coke, which we discovered last year in the Pyrenees. Though they weren’t having any of it. So we headed back to our digs.

The next event was me trying to climb into the top bunk which I had to agree following yesterday’s cock up. My god! The bunk bed must have been designed for kids. As it was comical watching me climb up ladders and having to crawl under angled ceiling. Eventually I got in unharmed, until Jase and Joe thought why don’t we just pull it away from the wall/angled ceiling, which they did with me still in it. I was expecting the worst.

After the worst night sleep ever, we headed to restaurant for our breakfast where the staff reminded us about our drinking of Pastis and coke the night before . Probably why we didn’t sleep well.

Weather wasn’t as good as yesterday with very light drizzle, which was actually refreshing as its was still very warm and probably couldn’t do the day ahead in the heat we had yesterday. So we headed off to Italy, with the additional 2km caused by my Chalet Val Ferret booking fiasco the night before. It wasn’t long before the jokes came out about my immense cock-up! Jase: “So Phil, when you booked tonight digs did you notice their accent when you called to book? She didn’t say Alright luv, a room for 3, yeah no problem, would you like full English with that? What time will you arrive? You are where luv? Switzerland? We are in Lancashire luv, in England. It’s a bit of a hike!” In reference of me not noticing the staff at CVF speaking Italian rather than French/Swiss. You can imagine it went on a while.

Also wasn’t long until we met our first fellow walker passing us going in opposite direction. He stopped to chat as he waited for his friends to catch up. So I said to him: “Where you come from?” He replied: “Spain” I said: “Spain! You kidding, don’t tell me were are going to wrong country again. I certainly didn’t book any digs in Spain! Or did I!” I was obviously meaning where he had come from today. Once we sorted that out I felt relieved! I thought somehow we had crossed over onto the Santiago Compostela pilgrimage! As we said our goodbyes I could have sworn he said: “Beun camino” which is the greeting to fellow walkers when doing the Camino de Santiago Compostela, which confused me a little. But I was pretty sure we were heading in right direction to Italy!

The scenery on today’s walk was simply stunning. Better than yesterday, which we didn’t think was possible, but we are obviously getting closer to Mont Blanc as the mountains were getting much much bigger. And the fact we also reach 2500 metres. On the way to the Swiss/Italian border we stopped off at a refuge with yurt huts for a coffee. Was so peaceful as we were only ones there.

As we got to 2000 metres I found a blue flower growing like the one in Batman Begins film where he has to carry it to top of mountain before being trained to be a ninja. Obviously as a Batman fan I took a chance and took the flower in the hope that when I got to the top I would also be trained as a ninja and be able to return home to fight crime on the streets of Sunderland. Maybe it was the altitude making me a bit weird.

We finally got to the top of the Swiss/Italian border in time for lunch. And we were blown away by the views we had. Can’t wait to get photos from proper camera up on the blog. Breathtaking. No more to say really. So we had our lunch right on the border in front of a glacier. Amazing experience. Though I never found the Batman ninja training school, so I threw the stupid blue flower away.

After reaching the border at 2500 metres this meant only one thing. It’s all downhill from here. And in more ways than one. Mainly because I find it much harder going downhill due to knee and feet than I do going up, which is opposite for Jase and Joe. So we headed down to around 1750 metres where we stopped for another coffee at Rifugio Elana. A stunning location in the valley and a chance for a proper Italian coffee. Molto Buono!

After the coffee we headed off in direction of where we assumed our refuge Rifugio Bonatti was. Never assume! Always read guide book. That’s what we brought them for. On the way we past the infamous Chalet Val Ferret, the place I booked for last night in error. After the obviously comedy photos of me in front of the sign at end of driveway we carried on toward Rifugio Bonatti. Or so we thought. During the comedy photo moments we should have read the guide booked which would have told us to walk toward CVF and onto our refuge. Instead we walked away from it until I found a sign pointing back 1 hour 45 minutes to our refuge on another walk route called 28A and another 300 metres up! We weren’t happy. So we did what we had to do. This is where Gemma and her expert map/guide book and general common sense would have been useful. We are not safe to be let out alone.

Eventually we got to within touching distance of our refuge! Out feet were aching like hell. As this had been by far the hardest walk any of us had ever done. We ascended well over Ben Nevis and at a much higher altitude. At times it looked like a mirage, as the beautiful refuge nestled on its own on the mountainside. We got to within touching distance of it, about 5 minutes away, until disaster struck! A herd of cows and bulls were being moved along by some farmer right in our path! There was no way we could get past. We couldn’t believe it! With our history of cows there was no way we were chancing anything. We were actually shaking, though this was combination of tiredness, dehydration and cow fear. Everyone else had already arrived at refuge and were sitting outside drinking. It was pure torture. Honestly we felt sick. Eventually we went a long way around them which also included adding a good 30 metres in height and having to plough our way through bushes to get to our holy grail. Eventually we arrived at 18:30. Dinner was at 19:15. So we decided against showers and just had a quick top change and headed to bar to be greeted by large draft of Moretti beer. Molto Buono! As we necked the beer Joe turned to us and said: “Sherlock Holmes had Moriatti, Seb Coe had Steve Ovett and we have cows with horns! Unbelievable!”

We were then treated to a great meal. Though they could have given me fish, mushrooms, salmon and tomatoes on a plate and I would have eaten it.

What a day though. Great craic, scenery and weather. Though disappointed I never got my Batman ninja training but the views we experienced today made up for that. One thing for sure, there is never a dull day on our adventures. We wouldn’t swap it for anything.

Ciao for now.

Click here to view today’s route

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Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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