Running Down the Down Days

So on here I have posted much about the days when there is lots going on, I have talked about life in the van a little and although there are adventures taking place pretty regularly out here, there are also days where the sun does not shine and life is put on hold, such as today… or this whole week by the looks of things.

We managed to get a mornings sport climbing in at Les Gaillands yesterday, which is a decent crag that is shadowed by the grandeur of Mont Blanc opposite. It was a good opportunity to get on dry rock in between showers and storms and was relatively quiet. We managed to do a few routes before the clouds rolled in, including a 3-pitch multi pitch and 6a lead, which is good boost for my confidence. Later we treated ourselves to a pizza before parking up for the afternoon/evening.


The view opposite Les Gaillands (2013)

The next morning, we were again rudely woken, as the police were getting all the campervans to move on. I do not remember placing a wake up call at police reception? I will have to make sure that it is removed for tomorrow! This is just an observation, but it seems that Chamonix is trying to stop people from living in vans to some extent. I have noticed that there are a few places that I have parked in the past that are now blocked off, and also I have never been moved on by the police here before. Maybe its all coincidence, maybe not, however something seems amiss.

So we moved on and managed to find another space elsewhere, and planned for another day of bad weather. We scoped out some bouldering, although just as we found them, the rain started again, the weather seems to be aware of when we are near boulders and decides to open up on us every time. So we decided to go for a run instead, the rain persisted, and Jess decided against getting soaked to the bone and returned to the van whilst I carried on.


It felt good to be running the trails, with the rain falling, it felt so refreshing. The rain eventually subsided, and the sound of raindrops was replaced with the sound of the stream running along side. On the downhill sections, I was able to skip from boulder to path as the terrain was forever changing! I made a beeline for the small town of Le Buet and the route was mostly downhill and followed a good trail.


At Le Buet I started to ascend up some less defined trails, this path led to the refuge and ultimately the summit of Le Buet, although I would not be running that far or high, as I could already feel my lungs and body strain under the pressure of running uphill at altitude, plus it’s a six hour trek one way! I chose this route for the run, as I did this whole route and summit as part of acclimatisation few years ago, and remembered that a short way up there was a fantastic waterfall, and that was my aim.


Amazing views of the water flowing through the forrest!

At the waterfall I took a few photos and took in the amazing scenery, and managed to capture a rainbow in the spray at the bottom. I walked to the end of a man made walkway, and at the very last step the panel creaked and moved slightly, it was a bit of a drop below and with my heart in my mouth I took a step back, and continued to enjoy the view from where I was.


Selfie at the turn around point!

After a short rest bite I continued the run, and had to retrace the route I had come from. This meant a long slog back up hill, this seemed to last forever, however by the finish of the run I felt all the better for it!

I love running, and running in these surroundings is even better. Around every corner the scenery changes; as another mountain peak projects its head over the horizon, or the streams that flow down the hill to join you at the trail and race you to the next turning point, the forests that enclose in on you and then release you anew into different surroundings, the quaint alpine villages and the animals, both wild and livestock that ring their cattle bells as if cheering you on! The mountains and rock may be off limits due to weather, however there is still a wealth of wilderness to experience.


The final stretch home!

So what about the other downtime? Well it is taken up with the usual things, such as catching up on reading. Before leaving and whilst working I found that there is never enough time to do the little things like read a book, so I’m taking full advantage of this free time. As well as this we watch films and listen to music. We also have a lot of time to talk and put the world to rights, it is nice to have a perspective from outside the ordinary.

We have been able to walk in to town some days and have sorted out little bits of admin, and checked the Internet, social media and emails. As well as this the cinema in Chamonix has a few select English films that have kept us entertained on some afternoons and evenings. Other times we have just sat outside if the weather allows, and drink good wine with good food, its surprising the range of food that can be made within our van! As a final point, it cannot be underestimated just how much time is spent day dreaming, staring off into views that surround the valley!

Have a look in the comments for some tips from Adsventura on finding places to plonk your van! Hopefully the next post will feature less normality and more fun and adventure!


3 thoughts on “Running Down the Down Days

Add yours

  1. Really enjoying reading your blog. It’s a truthful account of actual van life and travelling, not the same as most of the blogs out there. Our rainy days are taken up with similar pursuits, although we’ve started quite the competitive scrabble championship now!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I forgot to add, we did have some trouble finding wild camping spots… we’ve mainly used Aires and equivalents across Europe. Part of our problem is that we look like a massive works van, hardly inconspicuous. Anyway, we found an app, well two. One by camper contact, which allows you to search for all aires around Europe, filter for facilities and it even has a useful tool to search for free places as well! The web version is free, the app charges a few quid. You can also use it offline and clicking on a location allows you to drop it into google maps for easy navigation. The other is park4night. This is very much user generated content but again we’ve found it useful. One benefit is it helps with finding appropriate parking and places which are not official stops, but one that tolerate motorhomes! Sure you know all the above but thought it was worth passing on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, I had not used either, so I will add these to the ones we already have used in the past. Will also edit the blog to make sure people read the comments, as the more advice the better. We also search Google maps to find forest or riverside car parks, as these are often great for a one night stopover, and usually don’t have height barriers.


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