Le Flegere – Plan Praz – Brevent – Les Houches
We were woken early by many people on creaky floors getting up ridiculously early (before 6! Don’t they know we’re on vacation?!) and took the opportunity to get an early start. The weather was great – mostly sunny and nice temperature but we were worried about facing another hot day and there was rumor of afternoon storms. Before we left, Matthew had to duct tape the soles on to his boots (one was nearly completely detached and the other, seemingly out of sympathy for its partner, had started to fall off yesterday afternoon).
The hike started relatively flat with some maneuvering through talus fields. Unfortunately, after about two steps the duct tape fell off Matthew’s boots and he had to cut holes in his boots and use some scrap strong to tie the soles on (good thing we are finishing, right?). The path was hugging the side of a mountain with full views of Mont Blanc right across the valley – the closest we had been to it. We soon reached Plan Praz and started the last ascent of the trip.
Gentle switchbacks turned relatively steep and rocky until we reached a very large snowfield. We climbed uphill and then traversed a narrow path of snow edging along the side of a mountain. The trail was somewhat difficult to find and we continued along snow and rock until we found the ladders we knew were on the trail. We climbed up and scrambled on the snowy, barren landscape.
Finally, we reached the top – over 2525 meters, one of the highest points on the entire trip. Mont Blanc was right in front of us with all its glory. We enjoyed the most delicious tasting beer and a quick snack. We took pictures of our accomplishments. Unfortunately, the weather rumors looked like they might be true for once as thick clouds started to roll in.
Kate and Trent took the knee-sparing gondola down to Chamonix while Matthew and I attempted to outrun the rain down the mountain. We quickly passed through different terrain and ecosystems – dry, barren, windy to pine forest to lush meadows. We trekked downhill for about three hours (including about 20 minutes of getting lost right at the very end!) when we finally popped out onto a road in Les Houches – right near our hotel, where we had started 11 days prior.
We sat in the yard of our hotel and enjoyed sone huge, well-deserved beers, and rested our aching bodies. We had an informal ceremony to commemorate the end of Matthew’s boots, which have taken him over 2500 miles. We showered, took naps, and had a great dinner- more local specialties, heavy on the cheese, with wine and dessert all around. As we went to bed, the weather finally rolled in and we watched occasional thunder and lighting in the valley with Mont Blanc in the backdrop.