I am falling far behind on my vacation picture posting. Between my travels between Tor des Geants checkpoints to support Beat and exploring trails myself, I've been on the move almost continuously since Sunday. I have a few hours here before I try to meet Beat and the last life base, about fifty kilometers from the race finish. He's battling foot pain and stomach issues, but it otherwise moving strong and is a few hours ahead of his 2010 pace. I'll post more about the race in the next few days.
On Saturday morning, Beat, Steve and Harry were entrenched in last-minute preparations ahead of the Sunday start, and wanted us out of their hair. Martina and I mapped out a loop following the Trail du Mont Blanc, looping around a higher ridge to Col Sapin and back to town on the other side of the bowl.
We were feeling a bit silly as we headed up the steep trail to the refugio, and joked with fan-girl gushing about "following Killian's footprints" on the UTMB. I packed a full "ultralight" overnight pack with a sleeping bag, mat, bivy, warm winter clothing, food, lights and three liters of water to test my Raidlight pack against steep hiking and running. It probably weighed somewhere in the range of twenty pounds, but I didn't even really notice the weight against the fantastic morning weather and beautiful scenery. I even ran about two miles along the ridge and back. The experiment boosted my confidence about the prospect of "fastpacking," or actually running while carrying full self-support gear.
Livestock is ubiquitous in these mountains. I think Alps cows are happy cows, which would explain why the yogurt and gelato is so much better here than it is in the States.
Heading down a minor peak to Col Sapin, at 8,500 feet elevation. We came back in time to join the boys for their pre-race meeting and pasta party, and met a contingent of North American friends including Anne Ver Hoef from Anchorage (who I know through winter racing) and Angela from Calgary, who I spent a week with during my Maah Dah Hey camping trip in May. It was a full reunion of ultra friends, and everyone was excited for Sunday morning.