On my last TMB day I didn’t get out the door with my boots and pack until 8:30 am. I felt reluctant about my adventure’s conclusion. But I was excited because Day 10 is “ladder day!”
This is the stage of the TMB where iron ladders, steps and bars assist hikers up steep slabs of sheer stone. I didn’t even consider the possibility of taking the variant to bypass the ladder section. I was curious, having never climbed ladders on a hike!
The day began with the typical morning climb out of the valley, a tough steep 2 hours to get up above the tree line. Then the ladders appeared, creating a bottleneck of people waiting to climb.
Hikers relaxed and chatted, taking photos and eating snacks. As I loitered in the clearing for an hour, it seemed like every person I had met or spoken to on the 10-day trip passed through. Some I hiked with for a few minutes or hours, others I’d shared meals or a row of dorm beds. It was a surprising and welcome chance to say hello/goodbye to a couple dozen of my fellow travellers one last time.
And the ladders? So. Much. Fun! The guidebook described the ladders as “endless” but for me they ended far too soon. I wished for a few ladders to jump over some of those hours-long winding climbs through the forest.
At the top of the ladder section was the trail junction at Tête aux Vents, marked by a rock cairn. This second natural stopping point again drew hikers to congregate and admire the stunning views of Mont Blanc. All of my trail pals headed off in other directions (the majority to Lac Blanc), so there I said my final farewells (for now). I wasn’t sorry to take a solo path for the trip’s last hour or two. I took my time and savoured the quiet, sun, and spectacular beauty.
My TMB finished at La Flégère, atop a ski resort above Chamonix. This spot turned out to be a rather depressing place to end, with the bulldozed landscape and piles of tourists who arrived by gondola. I skipped the last knee-crunching descent and enjoyed a gondola ride down into Plan Praz, catching a bus into the bustling Alpine town of Chamonix.
In Chamonix I treated myself to a luxurious hotel. I savoured the world’s longest hot shower, and a MUCH appreciated appointment at the spa. A delicious dinner (with a friendly Norwegian hiking buddy!) topped off one last perfect day in the Alps.
I headed home to Canada sunburned and muscle-sore but relaxed and full of profound gratitude for this trip of a lifetime! I saw the most beautiful scenery in the world, got an enormous amount of fresh air and exercise, met some wonderful people, and gained deeper self-knowledge.