3Days 4Kneebraces

Three days and four newly purchased knee braces were restorative. Thank you Courmayeur.  We were ready for 860 m. up and 698 m. down as we tackled stage five of the Tour du Mount Blanc. Pretty little chalets and views of great walls of ice and rock across the Val Ferret guided us passed ruined huts and through splashes of color from Alpine Meadows flowers. We didn’t take the harder variant of leg 5–the 12 kilometer hike to Rifugio Bonatti was more than enough of a challenge,  especially  since I ended up doing it without one of my beloved walking sticks. Unbeknownst to us, the quick release had released and half a pole disappeared with the departure of the access bus. My partner in adventure, and forever love in life, immediately gave up one of his, but preying at the back of my mind was the thought of the next five days trekking without one of my auxiliary legs.   We arrived shortly before 2 o’clock and waited for the Rifugio to open. Our backpacks became back rests. We took off our boots, and flopped in a sunny field of wildflowers. The sheer magnificence of  basking in the glory of the Italian Alps created a mind picture I will carry with me forever.  The rest of the day was perfection. Our rustic room had a shuttered window that later became a living sunset painting. Long wooden tables, shared with fellow hikers  from around the world, were loaded with bowls of steaming soup, carafes of red table wine, rustic bread and local goat cheese.  Even better than the feast was Tonya, wonderful Tonya, life saver Tonya, who was one of the caretakers at the Rifugio. I asked her if Bonatti had any spare walking sticks I could buy. She disappeared and moments later handed me her own poles and told me to just leave them at the visitor center in Chamonix when we had finished our trek.   It was that day I realized I might actually be able to do it… the “Tour”…all the way back to France.

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