Time: 8h. Up: 1560m. Down: 690m.
Distance: 18km. Difficulty: hard.
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Stage 50: Refuge de Miage (1559m) to the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2433m)
Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.
After dropping down to les Contamines-Montjoie to stock up on provisions, you'll walk a few hours up-valley alongside the Bon-Nant River following the path of an old Roman road that once went over the Col du Bonhomme. You then start climbing steadily and cross two passes before reaching the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme ("refuge of the pass of the cross of the gentleman") where you'll stay the night.
And now is as good a time as any to pose a vexing question: what is it with French names? On average they are much longer than Anglic or Germanic names (the other languages / countries with which I am most familiar). I can't help but think that there is some deeper significance to this... perhaps signs of a profound cultural inability to compromise, or to reach disfunctional compromises? One imagines something like this:
A: "I want to call it 'les Contamines'"
: "I want to call it 'Montjoie'"
: "'les Contamines'!"
<repeated a few hundred times>
"Well, how about we call it 'les Contamines-Montjoie'."
A/B: "Sounds good to us."
Anyway, back on the H2H... at 2433m the Refuge du Col... etc., etc., is the highest place you'll overnight at on the H2H. This and the next several stages are one of the wildest sections of the whole hike, mostly above 2000m, and with very little in the way of civilization, outside of a day in the Val d'Isère and a few mountain refuges. It is almost like hiking in America... except, of course, for those refuges with hot meals and beds.
Today's route follows the same trails as the GR5 from les Contamines-Montjoie on. From the Refuge de Miage head southwest over a saddle to the Chalets du Truc (1720m) and then descend to the main road in les Contamines-Montjoie (1160m). Turn left up-valley and follow the riverside trail -- now on one side, now the other -- via Notre Dame de la Gorge (1210m), Chalet de Nant Borrant (1460m), and Chalet la Balme (1706m), to the Col du Bonhomme (2329m). Here take the left-hand trail that traverses the mountainside to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2479m) before dropping down a short distance to the Refuge du Col....
Alternatives: none really. If the weather is bad, take a day off.
Map: IGN-3531ET St.-Gervais-les-Bains.
The House to House blog... stage 50.
<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.
<To be added during or after hike>
Room and Board Options
Lunch: depending upon when you start, you can have lunch at either Nant Borrant (after 3.75h) or la Balme (after 4.5h). Buy food in les Contamines for a picnic lunch during the following stage.
Dinner and overnight: the only place to stay within a couple of hours hike is the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (+33-(0)4.79.07.05.28, 86 places in small bunkrooms (4-6 per room), and 27 in a large bunkroom). The Refuge is run by the CAF.
Getting There and Back
Refuge de Miage:
le Fayet, where there is a railway station, either take a taxi or one of the infrequent buses about 12km to les Contamines-Montjoie, from which you can hike (2h, +180m, -570m, 5.5km) via the Chalets de Truc up to the Refuge (for taxi contact information see here, for bus information here, and for train schedule information, see the SNCF).
Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme: hike southeast down from the Refuge to les Chapieux (1549m -- 2h, -880m, 5km). Here you can call for a taxi to take you to 15km to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, where there is a railway station (for taxi contact information see here).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on les Contamines-Montjoie, centered on les Chapieux.
Background Information and Links
Many and various...
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