We rose before dawn and got our packs ready, then ate a quiet breakfast of bread, yogurt, fruit and tea in the dining room. The sun began to bathe the gray peaks on the other side of the valley in light, reflecting brightly off the white snow caps. We slung our packs on our backs and started in the cool of the morning.
The first part of the hike led us along the mountainside across the valley from the Mont Blanc massif. We walked by waterfalls plunging rapidly into the valley below. We stepped through fields of wildflowers of all colors bending to the wind. We passed the brown shells of former houses. And we carefully and slowly made our way past a small herd of brown and white cows who had stopped to graze on the trail, cowbells clanking musically atlas they moved their thick necks.
We stopped at the Rifugio Elena, which sported a wide outdoor patio with a spectacular view of a glacier-topped peak. Emile got a cappuccino and I had a hot chocolate, which was so thick the spoon could stand up in it. It tasted like they had melted chocolate chips into a coffee mug. We sat in the sunshine, sipping our warm drinks and enjoying the view.
From there we climbed the Grand Col Ferret, which marks the border from Italy into Switzerland. As we ascended, we climbed parallel to the glacier we had seen at Elena below and soon rose above it. At the Col, we could see the gentle green slopes of a Swiss valley before us, and behind us we could see across Italy and back into France.
We only paused a minute on the Col, because a fierce wind chilled our bones. We hunkered down in our jackets and gloves and headed down the hill. Yellow and white wildflowers peppered the hillsides. We found a flat, quiet spot out of the wind to rest and have our lunch, then we continued down the path to La Fouly and the Hotel Edelweiss, our home for the night.
We did yoga on a small grassy area at the back side of the hotel that overlooked a rushing river and a glacier between two peaks. The late afternoon sun felt warm on my skin and the smell of grass, sound of the rushing water and the sunlight ever changing as clouds passed overhead created a feast for the senses.