Day 4 – September 3: Refuge des Mottets – Maison Vieille

Breakfast at 7:00 – coffee, white bread jam – we picked up our packed lunches – looked good.

Packed up and on our way at 8:30 up the trail above the Refuge … good-bye cow barns!  We zigzagged a bit, then one long zag to the left that got quite steep.  It started to spit so we put on our ponchos and up we went.  The rain came and went and the wind rose.  It was a steep, long climb.  By the time we got to the Col, 2120 ft up (11:00) there was a gale force wind.  This was the Italian/France border.  I honestly felt like I was about to take off, the wind was ferocious!  Someone asked m6.8.Three cheers for the ponchose if I was going to parachute down.   As we started down the other side, there was more rain, combined with the wind and the ponchos … it was quite a challenge, BUT the rain wasn’t coming down in torrents, so that was a good thing.  It was pouring when we arrived at the Rifugio Elesabetta, about 708 ft down.  Actually it was further down than that and then back up a bit of a cliff to the Refugio and the wind was howling and the rain was coming down! We went in and had some hot chocolate and ate our packed lunch.  Actually we only ate one so we have lunch for tomorrow.  We were scheduled to stay here but decided that since the weather was bad anyway, we may as well carry on.  We phoned ahead for reservations at the Maison Vieille and started out – it would be about a 3 hour walk.

Elisabetta was on quite a rise of land – we went down to a flat valley in the rain and walked flat for about 45 min. on a rough road (down 1,150 ft) before we started our next climb.  The rain would stop and start and we would take off our ponchos (because of the high winds and we were being 6.10.glaciers on Mont Blancblown away) but had to put them back on again as the rain recommenced.  We seemed to climb forever … each time we thought we were almost at the top, we would reach the crest and there would be another ahead, and the wind never let up.  If anything it got stronger. We finally reached Mont Favre, which was a climb of 1575 feet which seemed like 3000.  At one point just past the top I thought I was going to be blown right off the side of the mountain!  Despite the weather, the views (that we could see … there was some low cloud) were absolutely spectacular.  We then started down which was quite gentle as we walk up and down over meadows and hills … all the while the view was spectacular, the peaks of Mont Blanc were across the valley with many glaciers and water falls.  We finally reached Maison Vieille – 1579 feet down, (The Old Woman’s House) 6.13.Moon over Maison Vieilleat around 4:00.  We were in the upstairs bunk room for 25, nice showers, sinks, soap, paper towels, like a real hotel, actually it was.  We did our laundry, had a delicious dinner (spaghetti, veal, peas, apple, desert – fantastic meal.  This is by far the nicest place we have stayed.  There was a full moon so we snapped this picture of the corner of Maison Vieille.  We read for a bit, bed at 9:30 … quite a day!

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