|Italy to France and Lac Blanc, Chamonix, France||Week 31 14th - 15th November 2011|
| Our first choice to drive from Italy to France was over
the Petit Saint Bernard Pass. Unfortunately it was closed. A local person
told us that Great Saint Bernard Pass was always open so we backtracked
about 30 km to Aosta.
We thought we'd better check on camping in Chamonix. Phoned the information center. Their view was that even Great Saint Bernard Pass was closed and we should use the train service through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Useful also to know that all camping grounds in Chamonix were closed. The last one closed today!
Confused, we thought we'd believe our local person and headed up to the Pass. Eventually we twigged that there was a Great Saint Bernard Tunnel.
|An old fort on the way up to the pass.|
We became intrigued by the stone roofs in this area.
We'd passed a granite works (a clue to what makes up part of the alps) and could see slices of granite partly manufactured.
Unusual as most stone or slate roofs in other parts of the world are made of stone that can easily be cleaved rather than having to be cut.
This roof had been carefully laid with square stones in a diamond pattern.
At least its unlikely to blow away in a gale!
|All the way through the val d'Aosta were historic buildings.|
| We realised we were about to leave Italy without having
eaten either pasta or pizza.
Our excuse was that everything was closed.
We stopped at a hotel / restaurant near the pass.
We were lucky that at precisely midday the restaurant opened.
Chicken and chips! It reminded us of the chicken bones in China, though these bones were much bigger, and the sauce was white wine.
We are not too far from France and suspect the Italian cuisine has been influenced.
|The weather continues to hold. We are feeling lucky.|
| More stone roofs.
This one much older, and different sized stones.
| A glimpse of the Rhone Valley.
That river that flows through Germany, to the north.
| The tunnel belongs to Switzerland.
They charge a hefty (to us) toll for its use.
A$22 road tax and A$45 toll for the tunnel.
| We spent about an hour in Switzerland.
This is as we are leaving.
| Having crossed the Col De Montet, the last pass on the way
to Chamonix we stopped in a convenient layby for the night.
The notice board behind the truck describes a short nature walk.
We did a bit of investigating before going to bed and struggled to reconcile a couple of signposts indicating walks of several hours with the short nature walk.
We also noticed a few hikers passing by.
Lastly, there was a gentleman with a very long looking lens on his camera trying to photograph some Chamois hiding near the road.
| Next morning we took a punt and followed the signpost to
Lac Blanc. Mainly because it was on the north side of the valley which
meant it would probably be warmer and afford a view of Mont Blanc.
About 20 min up the track we encountered a couple of Chamois.
If only last night's photographer had walked up the track a bit!
|Which turned out to be a family of four.|
|Dad was a bit elusive, but patience won.|
|What a wonderful place to live and bring up the kids!|
| Not as steep as it looks.
Alpine tracks are well graded and zig-zag.
|Which meant we climbed quite high quite quickly.|
| Not just any rock!
Its striated. The result of glacial action.
Did I mention that the shape of the Alpine valleys, all the way from the Julian Alps, is typical of a landscape shaped by glaciers.
|That's the other side of the valley in the background.|
| We are on the warmer north side (south facing) side of the
The glacier is on the south side.
|A lake formed by glacial action.|
| And bits of moraine left behind.
These are Les Lacs Des Cheserys.
There's a refugio and Lac Blanc about 200m above us but we weren't too sure about running out of time, or steam, so turned around.
The track we have "disovered" is well used. Its part of the Via Alpina and also Espace Mont Blanc.
| Mont Blanc on the other side of the valley.
Had a chat to a couple of Parisienne hikers who, like us, had expected knee deep snow at this time of year.
We were asked, again, what were the best and worst parts of the trip.
We don't have a best and worst, but we have realised there are some days we remember better than others.
We figured that today was one of those we will remember.
They described it as a walk they keep coming back to.
|As the sun moved round the broken end of the glacier became more defined.|
| Its that glacier on the left.
Receding so the terminal and side moraine are very obvious.
|All looked after by yet another Chamois.|
| Surveying the empire.
We aren't sure which one moved closer to the other first. Or even if its the right season.
|Maybe came lower for all the food. Ready for winter.|
|Ogelet and Gilley, The Jura, France||Week 31 16th - 18th November 2011|