Day 9: Rufugio Bertone to La Fouly

We did it. The hardest day of our trek. 18.43 miles and 4,716 feet of gain. Those numbers are according to my phone which continues to outperform Zak’s. But if the phone was attached to me, then that’s what I’m going with. Maybe I was spirographing the whole time? Regardless, it was a heck of a day and I’m so proud of us.

We knew we had a big day and we know we’re not all that fast, so we got up before sunrise and were on the trail just as the first light of sun was arriving. Seeing Mont Blanc wake up for the day was so peaceful.

The first eight miles of the hike were relatively flat, just rolling hills as we meandered through the valley. We took hardly any breaks and made incredible time. Then the fun started. We began climbing to the top of the col and it was hard. It was one of those hikes where I had to continuously remind myself that it would be worth it. And it was.

Shortly after noon we arrived at the col, which is also the border between Italy and Switzerland. We had a picnic of focaccia, salami, and Nutella cookies and then started the hike down more than 4,500 feet. Again, it was hard. Those downhills can be such ego busters. You think you’re going to rock downhill, but then you get all wrapped up in making sure you don’t die and before you know it you realize you’ve gone like a quarter mile and your feet ache from stepping on rocks in awkward ways and you’ve rolled your ankle twice. But you’re still moving forward.

We finally arrive at our rufugio and it is so cute. The owners only speak French, but have gone out of there way to welcome us. Unfortunately, when we booked the only room available was a room for seven, three sets of bunk bed and a single twin right next to the row of bottom bunks. We were the last to arrive, so got the beds that were left, the three on the top and one in the middle of the bottom. Zak gets to get all cuddly with two stranger men tonight.

The snacks provided have been plentiful and the dinner of vegetable soup, a gorgeous salad, roasted veggies and potatoes, rice, and turkey thighs in a mustard sauce was all filling and fabulous. But the highlight of the meal was definitely the dessert. We each got a giant bowl of strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

This was a big day in many ways. First, completing our hardest day of the whole hike with appreciation and joy was a win for us all. But!!! We’re over halfway done now! AND we made if farther than Rick Steves who only made it 60 miles. We even did it without using a luggage carrier. Tonight we sleep well (maybe?), and tomorrow we keep going onto Day 7 of the hike.

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