Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls! – Trail running in Chamonix

‘Fancy a 30 minute jog before lunch?’

‘Yeah, best get on with it, as we have been so inactive due to rain over the past few days…’

That was a snippet from our conversation this morning, so as you might imagine this post is about a run. A couple of weeks before, I had been online searching through the hiking trails around the valley in search of some interesting routes to go for a run. Once again I came across a waterfall that was said to be picturesque and near the Mont Blanc Tunnel. So for today, I thought we could run up to the falls and then return on the same track, this sounded like a Good plan!

I thought this would take a little longer than 30 minutes, but no longer than an hour, so after a quick change and a map check we set off. Initially following the roads that leave Chamonix towards the tunnel, until you turn off into the Forrest, where winding tracks occasionally link up with the road before peeling away again. This was all steady up hill, however once we met up with the stream of water flowing down the path got steeper and we both stared to walk/tab up, passing hikers who seemed somewhat more prepared for the terrain than we were.

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Jess looking happy!

As with most trail running on steep hills, once it got steep we walked and as it petered out we upped the pace, this kept enough stamina in the bank to keep going. It was great running alongside the stream, with the occasional large break in the trees to allow for a lovely view of the water flowing past. If you have not guessed it already, I love water features, don’t know why, but always have! We made good speed on the route and it did not seem to long before we crossed a bridge, made our way past the cafe and was at the foot of the falls. It was so worth it, the sun stared to shine through the thick layer of cloud that had shrouded the area for days, and this reflected off the splash of the falls. We did go in for a closer view, and could really feel the power of the water crashing on the blocks below, with the fine spray starting to seep into my clothes, so we moved away.

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Jess looking happier!

Once we made our way to the cafe we saw a sign that said Glacier de Bossons, and thought it would be nice to go and have a closer look at that, as no routes we were going on go near it and you could always see it so clearly from the valley and climbing at Les Gaillands. En-route to here we passed the entrance to the Mont Blanc Tunnel, and then continued our route up the hill through the forests. This was dotted with more great water features and scenic paths that worked their way up the hill. Eventually we made our way to the Cerro refuge, where they had some wreckage outside from a plane crash from many years ago, we did not stop, although the sign for tart and cakes was hard to pass without a closer inspection, maybe my stomach was trying to tell me something? Surely we had not been gone longer than 30 minutes???

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Jess making strides towards the Bossons Glacier

After passing the refuge we came to the first viewing platform For the Bossons Glacier, from which you could just see the edge, as glacial recession had meant that it was no longer in view from this platform, so we worked our way ever higher to the second viewing platform a few minutes away, again you could not hardly see the bloody thing, so again we moved on, and from here the pace became a brisk walk as the terrain was no longer maintained like the others, and felt a little less trodden and established.

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At the highest trekking platform

We zig zagged our way up, starting to feel less and less equipped in my road running shoes for the terrain we were on, however, as long as we kept walking we should be ok and make it down before 30 minutes or so was up… so we pushed on past the warning signs to another platform that had been built up, which did give a better view of the Glacier. So it was all worth it! I asked Jess if we should go down, but she said she still wanted to go closer? So we went past the barriers and started making our way up a vague path of boulders and glacial rock, and turned right, and kept on going until we were at the foot of the Glacier.

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Me, feeling the danger!
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Right at the foot of the glacier

Now I did not want to hang around here for too long, I had seen the edge of glaciers fall, as huge blocks of ice separated and crashed their way down the face. I was fully aware that if this was to happen it would obliterate us in a matter of mili seconds, so I did not want to hang around, no matter how nice the view was. Although being their, below that great barrier of ice, with the arcs and flows of snow and ice entwined and crushed together for year upon year, with slithers of blue radiating from within, it was a pretty majestically thing to behold, but not for too long. I’m sure Jess noticed my hesitation, which was more obvious than I would usually allow. However once back on the path we made our way down quicker, starting to run once the harder and slipper sections had been passed and we made our way back to the refuge in good time.

Once past there we planned to follow the same route home, however stopped at a sign for Les Bossons town, and I decided that we should continue our decent via that path as it would deliver different scenery, although this would have to be memorized as both our phones had died, so their was no more pictures taken. This path was a relatively simple forest track that eventually would its way down, down and down until we came upon the first house and before we knew it we had left the forest and reentered civilization. We now followed roads, trying to get back into the valley and follow the road back into town. This worked out perfectly, as we past Les Gailands we could see groups still climbing, even though there was water streaming down the faces? This personally goes against my climbing ethics, and rock should be dry before climbing, but hey!

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One of the many water features

We had to walk through town at this point as my knee was starting the stiffen a little, after what I have to admit was turning into quite a long 30 minute jog. Once back at the van we checked the time and it turned out we had not been out for 30 minutes, but 3 hours… well turns out you should not let me lead a run, I did an average check of the distance and thought we did around 17km and made 500m+ in height from our start point to the high point of the run, which is not bad going! However my excuse for not sticking to the 30 minutes is that sometimes you just feel like going on and seeing what’s on the next horizon, in the words (and accent) of Forrest Gump “I just felt like running!”

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Posing at the foot of the Cascade Du Dard
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Jess at the initial viewing platform for the Bosons Glacier
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Jess at the foot of the Glacier

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Running away from the Mont Blanc Tunnel
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On my way to the waterfall!

 

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