Tuesday, November 27, 2018

TMB Day 5: Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

Day Five
July 21, 2018

Starting point: Courmayeur, Italy
Ending point: Rifugio Bonatti
Distance: 7.9 miles
Height gain: 3691 feet
High point: Tete de la Tronche (8478 feet)
Lunch: Rifugio Bertone
Accommodation: Rifugio Bonatti

Our rest day in Courmayeur was over, and it was time to hit the trail again.  For that whole day, we did not use the stairs even once - nope, not one downward or upward step was taken in excess.  With pomp and circumstance, we rode the elevator down (at first the door wouldn’t close because apparently our packs were so large that they obstructed the sensor) to start this fourth leg of our trek.  It’s always a little bit hard to get started for the day, whether we’re coming out of a mountain refuge or an actual city, but today it was much harder because we had just had the most indulgent and relaxing time in Italy. On top of that, it looked like it actually was going to rain, so we stuck our umbrellas and rain jackets on the outer pockets of our packs.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Leaf Peeping & Lake Spotting

Per Wikipedia, "leaf peeping" is an informal term in the United States for the activity in which people travel to view and photograph the fall foliage in areas where leaves change colors in autumn, particularly in northern New England and the upper Midwest.  Well, we were able to do this (and join many other "leaf perverts", as Wes likes to call them) right here in California, just a six-hour drive up our favorite freeway, the 395.  It's really quite amazing - fields of gold are literally hidden in between the mountains, found only if you follow narrow, winding roads into specific destinations.  With the help of Mono County Tourism's website, we knew exactly where to go to gain entrance to the year's most exclusive peepshow.  The leaves turn sexy shades of yellow and orange, the meadows are golden, the lakes sparkle and flash, and we were lucky enough to be treated to a light snowstorm that created a dramatic backdrop to it all.  Depending on a variety of natural factors (i.e. elevation, weather, type of tree), the leaves change quite quickly, so there's only a four-week window to catch these views each year.  Monocounty.org is diligently updated every Wednesday (by some leaf pervert, no doubt) with viewing conditions.  I guess there are a lot of people out there who come to the Eastern Sierra at this time of year just for the Fall colors!

So the true intention of the trip wasn't even to see the changing leaves, even though I do have a huge soft spot for Fall colors.  We actually had a backcountry permit booked for that weekend to through-hike a trail out of Mammoth, but the weather took a huge dip (26 degrees Fahrenheit at night!) and there was snow in the forecast...so, we packed a ton of extra blankets in the car and opted to get a walk-in campsite and do some day-hikes rather than going backpacking.  Snuggling under our heavy down comforter and huddling by the campfire with hearty, fresh food sounded way more ideal.

You really can never go wrong in the Eastern Sierra, ever.  It felt like we had truly experienced the transition from Fall to Winter firsthand!  We did a few good hikes and also ate a ton of good ole American comfort food: tacos, pizza, wings, burgers, ice cream, pasta, sandwiches, ice cream, and pho.  Ice cream was in there twice, not by mistake.  It was another trip for the books, for sure.

Day 1:  Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes

Day 2:  Lundy Canyon Trail

Day 3:  Ruby Lake via Morgan Pass

Complete food list: Anthony's Grill in Mojave, Tacos Los Hermanos in Lone Pine, Schat's Bakery in Mammoth, Black Velvet Coffee in Mammoth, Subway in Mammoth, Mono Cone in Lee Vining, Giovanni's in Mammoth, Bishop Burger Barn in Bishop, Good Earth Yogurt in Bishop, our campsite