Running in Chamonix

We walked from our rental house to the Chamonix Planpraz cable car, rode to the top, and took the TMB (Trail du Mount Blanc) toward Brévent. Ann had mentioned taking the cable car up and running back down, so I was surprised by the climb at the beginning.

John and Ann planning our routes with the map en route in the cable car 

So many trails at the top of Planpraz

John went on a hike his own way, and soon we were running and chatting with a man from New Zealand who was in town to coach someone for UTMB. We saw our first ibex of the trip at the first peak, hit snow, and the friendly Kiwi took our photo.

Paraglider and gondola below us

Up and up

There was lots of rocky scrambling across the snow and then over toward the other side of the mountain. We passed a mother and baby ibex just off the trail, and then a mother sheep with a big alpine cow bell and her lamb, staring down at us from a ridge.

A stop to take in the view (and how far we've climbed)

TMB trail markings

Still more climbing, until finally, somehow, we were near the rocky top and began to descend. The downhill trail was so rocky and steep that we still really weren't running, but the views were astounding. We took breaks as needed to admire the blue lakes, snowy peaks, and many sheep and ibexes.

Mama and baby ibex right off the trail

This alpine sheep thinks she's a cow with a giant bell (and a lamb)

At some point the trail became wider and more widely used, and we passed below the timberline into the trees and the welcome shade. There were signs every once in a while that gave time-- rather than distance-- to our destination of Brévent. But at one point, after passing a number of tourists who were clearly not hikers, we saw a sign that showed an hour to both Chamonix and Brévent. Rather than take the bus back from Brévent, we decided to just run to Chamonix.

Lac du Brévent

Rocky downhill, varied terrain
It was hot and the downhill on rooty forest trail played havoc with my knee. The turn towards Chamonix took us up again for a surprisingly long time, but soon we were descending once more, onto a road that we ran until we got back to the part of town we recognized.

Enjoying our chia gel from 33 Shake

TMB trail marking, a lovely purple sedum, and alpine views

We had planned to run for two to three hours, and it took almost four. That was a little more than I wanted a handful of days before our biggest race of the year, but it was amazing to walk from our house, take a cable car, and then just run as we pleased, wild and free. I can't imagine a better introduction to the Apls.

Ann Bolt and Mt Blanc

Ann navigates a narrow part of the trail with a chain; Mt Blanc above

Mt Blanc through the valley

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