Stage 3: Rifugio Elisabetta, Italy to Courmayeur, Italy
We woke up to the hustle and bustle of everyone around us in the dorm getting dressed and ready for another day of hiking. Evan and I took our time getting up, knowing that we had a shorter day in front of us. Our plan was to hike down out of Val Veny to the small village of Lasaille, where we would then catch a bus into Courmayeur. So, after a quick breakfast of more bread and jam, we gathered our packs and headed out into the beautiful weather. Chris was outside getting ready as we put on our boots and, since he was ending his tour in Courmayeur, he decided to join us on our abbreviated day to give himself some time to plan his next adventure. Taking one last photo in front of Glacier de la Lee Blanche, we began our winding descent down from Elisabetta. Following a wide road, we made our way past the mirrored Lac Combal that was reflecting the surrounding snow-capped peaks, to Lasaille. While waiting for our bus, we grabbed some true Italian lattes to enjoy on the porch of the quaint Café du Miage. We sat back, relaxed, chatted, and soaked in the views of the beautiful mountains and a group of local kids playing some sort of dodgeball game.
The bus ride into Courmayeur took about 20 minutes and only cost around 1.50€ per person. At one of the stops, we spotted a group of American teenagers led by two counselors sprinting to the bus stop with their packs bumping around on their backs. They piled on to the bus, exasperated, but laughing at the same time. During the ride, we learned that they were completing a “European Explorer” program through a group called Overland which included hiking the TMB and trekking in Spain’s Pyrenees Mountains – a tough group of kids!
The bus reached the town center and Chris gave us a tour of Courmayeur, since that was where he began his TMB journey. In addition to showing us the church (a guidepost for finding your way around since it is the only steeple in town), he pointed us in the right direction to begin our hike toward Bonatti the following morning. We grabbed some lunch and gelato with Chris before splitting ways with promises of connecting at a later time. Evan and I wandered down the main road to find our hotel – Hotel Triolet. We checked in and were pleasantly surprised with our room; from the balcony we had a wonderful view of the mountains and the dark wood décor gave the room a true Italian feel. We decided it was time to do some bathroom sink laundry and hang our clothes in the sun on the balcony to dry.
We ventured to a nearby supermarket to pick up some afternoon snacks – Oranginas, peaches, and chocolate! We relaxed in the reclining chaise lounges at the hotel for a little while and then wandered into town to see if we could find some post cards and dinner. We ran into Bill and Alison in town; it’s amazing how even in bigger towns you keep running into people you’ve met along the way on the TMB. It is certainly part of what makes the trek so special. We retired shortly after dinner and after chatting with our parents for a little while via G-chat, determined to get an early start the next morning.