Day 8: Courtmayeur to Rufugio Bertone

Rest day!!!! Most people doing this hike take one or two rest days and we are (kind of) doing the same. While planning the trip Zak and I didn’t see the point in a day with no milage gain, knowing we’d spend the day walking around the town we were in. To us, it made sense to put those steps in on the trail, but build in a few shorter days. That’s what today was.

Additionally, this was a tricky part of the hike to plan. Last night we stayed in Courtmayeur. A few miles up the trail is Rufugio Bertone, where we’re staying tonight. The next rufugio is 4.5 miles beyond this one. But they only have a few beds and, despite being in contact with them before they even opened the reservation system for the season, we couldn’t snag 4 beds. The next rufugio is 12 miles beyond that. Which means, that tomorrow is the biggest day of the trek for us, at over 16 miles. Hence, a well needed rest day to prepare for tomorrow. Confused? It was a tough trip to plan and I can see why many using a booking service.

The morning started with trays of a heavenly breakfast of croissants, other pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, cappuccino, juice, and desserts(!?!). We had a really relaxing morning, exactly what we needed. Eventually, we strapped the packs back on and headed into the center of Courtmayeur. We know we won’t have the time to stop for lunch tomorrow and want to get on the trail before breakfast is served here, so we grabbed food for and added them to our packs. We should be full tomorrow, cause my bag sure seemed a lot heavier after adding the food. Without wanting to miss out on the essentials of Italy we found a popular pizzeria. So delicious! Then we hit the trail.

It was only three miles of hiking today, but over 2,800 feet of gain. I may be the most hated member of the family if I actually admitted this to them, but I found it not difficult at all. Not easy, but not all that hard. Despite the steepness, my muscles didn’t hurt after (and during) each step. Maybe it was knowing we only had a couple of hours, or maybe, just maybe, my body is getting used to this hell of climbing a mountain each day.

About 100 feet below tonight’s rufugio, we exited the forest and we’re presented with the most glorious view of Mt. Blanc. Seeing the peak can be unlikely as the clouds are always hovering around the summit. But they parted, and we could see the summit of this gigantic beast of a mountain. It was a real magical moment.

We were at the rufugio when they allowed folks to check in. We took (4 minute) hot showers, grabbed a liter of wine, and sat on the darling patio relaxing. Zak played his 3D printed travel ukulele and serenaded the other guests. It’s so fun to watch all the interest in his ukulele. People are so amused and intrigued by it. They always want to take a picture and try playing a few chords. Then they are always more flabbergasted when he puts down the uke and pulls out the pair of socks he’s crocheting. I’m fact a family from France just approached him, and with the kindest of intentions, told him, “You are a very strange man.” There is no one quite like Zak. And that’s why I love him.

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