DAY 7, LES HOUCHES to REFUGE DE LA BALME
Ascent: 1539 m
Descent: 844 m
Distance: 27 km
Time on trail: 6:30 – 15:45
Time to begin the second stage, which leads to Landry in three days, covering 70 km. I was eager to move again even though the morning was dull and wet. Visibility was so poor that I soon lost the hope to see Mont Blanc.
When reaching Les Contamines, a busy town along the TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc), persistent mist finally disappeared.
While climbing up along the wooded valley I passed by a pilgrim church, Notre Dame de la Gorge
Refuge de la Balme is located at the end of the valley, just when the ascent begins to get serious, and next to it is a nice meadow for free bivouacing. Only one French TMB-couple arrived late in the evening which surprised me; I was expecting a busier camping spot. After the day of resting the walking had felt strong and as the route didn’t climb higher than this bivouac site (1706m), it was snow free. Things were about to change though as the next two days would lead me back to higher altitudes.