Wild Camping The Tour des Dents-du-Midi in the Swiss Alps – Day Three

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Read day two here.

Another beautiful day, with maybe the chance of some thunderstorms later. Just this time, no sunrise as we were right at the foot of the Dents-du-Midi but to be honest, it was quite nice to chill as we made breakfast. I had a fantastic sleep. Being that we were on forest floor, there was quite a nice amount of ‘spongyness’ (I’m sure that’s a word) to make it more comfortable.

We decided not to stick around today as we were literally just next to the trail, we’d rather not be in anyone’s way, especially as it’s a Saturday. Just as we were packing up, there was a loud gunshot, safe to say I think that helped quicken everyone’s pace up – certainly helped mine!

Well, then all the sheep arrived – I’m glad they didn’t come earlier in the morning, that would have been a different alarm as they all had bells!

Shooting the torrent at Pas d’Encel

We all knew where we’ll be stopping today. Just up ahead was fantastic photo opportunity; a suspension bridge that takes you over a raging torrent. Before I headed up there myself, I went to capture an image of the torrent. After trying different compositions, I set myself on one that showed the huge drop and the lovely light on the mountains in the distance.

30 sec at f/8.0, ISO 100 – 28mm with 10-stop ND filter (Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8)

Next step – crossing the bridge. Now this was quite a cool bridge, a suspension-style crossing that takes you over the water below, probably about 40ft up so as I’m sure you can imagine, looking down wasn’t for the faint-hearted!

It was quite sketchy as we all walked across, literally ‘bouncing’ up and down!
Austin on the bridge enjoying the view.

Scott and Austin captured some pretty cool footage of us all on the bridge, check out Austin’s here.

Starting the day’s trail

From the bridge we needed to start making our way up. We were at about 1400m, and our max height for the day was about 2000m. To be honest, at first, I expected this day’s hike to not be as interesting as the last, but I was completely wrong.

9-image portrait panorama 1/400 sec at f/9.0, ISO 800 – 28mm (Tamron 28-75)

Now how about that for a vista?! Absolutely stunning and actually one of my favourite views from the whole trip. You can see the waterfall in the bottom left-hand corner, just above that is where the suspension bridge was. Following directly up from the waterfall is where we came from last night, right in the valley with all the snow – epic.

As we continued walking, we came across what looked to be an abandoned cabin. I believe these are owned by individuals – imagine owning your own cabin on a mountain? I’m sure not many people in the world can say they experience that. Maybe one day I’ll come back and own one of these beautiful cabins as the view from it was stunning. But I guess the real question is, why abandon it?

Watching the light change

The cabin we were just at was now in and amongst the view of my previous panorama and it made for an awesome image. I initially took the shot, pleased with the result until I noticed the light change as the sun made it’s away over the mountain, this happened within minutes as me and Lucy were waiting for the lads to catch up. Soon there were light rays illuminating the cabin whilst keeping the surrounding area in shadow.

1/400sec at f/8.0, ISO 800 – 48mm (Tamron 28-75)

Finding Hunters

Well, to be honest, they found us. As we were walking, we heard some rustling coming from inside the row of shrubs above us. Assuming it was an animal we carried on, only to see a man come forcing his way out pulling a young Ibex with him – he looked knackered! At first, I didn’t think much of it so we continued on up to a signpost to get some water down us. Then two more of his mates came out in different places along the shrubs, one carrying a pretty huge rifle – that must have been the gunshot earlier. It makes me wonder whether this sport provides any benefit to the Alps and is it actually legal? I don’t know. I can’t really decide whether hunting ‘annoys’ me as at the end of the day, I guess hunting is one of the reasons the more exotic animals in the Alps no longer have a habitat here. Maybe I’m wrong for thinking this – feel free to let me know in the comments.

What a view! And what beautiful weather to enjoy it too. There’s the signpost (bottom-left) where the hunters with the huge rifle found us, their killing is just below the signpost.

Next destination, Cabane d’Anthème

The hike to the next cabin was pretty relaxed, no major accents and more gradual than before, so thankfully our legs were saved for a little bit longer. Once we arrived, we crossed a river that looked too good to pass for ice-cold mountain water.

Being that it was so hot, probably about 20 degrees, this water was very refreshing!

A little bit further ahead there was a lake which like at Lac de Salanfe, it was a mirror of the snow-capped mountains above. I did try to get some photos of the reflections combined with the sun but to be honest, they didn’t turn out as I had hoped. It was nice just sitting here though, taking in the beautiful landscape before me, listening to the sounds of nature, and basking in the heat of the day. I joined the guys at the cabin where they already had coffee with Lucy and Austin taking it a step further with a glass of wine. Just a coffee for me, and we all had a bacon fondue on order. Our first proper cooked meal for a couple days!

Not a bad view for lunch.

Oh and the best thing? Puppies!

Yep, they had a load of border collie puppies which couldn’t be any more than a couple months old. Obviously the best part of our trip!

Scott’s phone taking a panorama of the landscape. Safe to say Scott quickly moved it after this shot in case of an accidental kick from the beautiful dog!
There were loads of them running around!

By the time we had finished, it was 2pm and we were only 3 miles in. So we decided to make some more progress on the trail. Thankfully the sun sets at 7.30pm, so we had a good opportunity to get some miles in.

Next stop, Signal de Soi 

We soon ate up another 2 miles where we reached the foot of Signal de Soi, where we had two options, either take the road around the peak or go directly up. We decided to go up! It’s got to be said though, the views up to this point have been absolutely stunning, just look at this! I believe this is the actual ‘Dents-du-Midi’ as photographed from a distance, could be wrong though.

Just as we started hiking up, a van full of paragliders came in. It was quite funny watching them dart across the peak trying to find the best spot. I guess with the clouds starting to come in, presumably the forecasted thunderstorm, made them hurry a bit quicker! Can’t say I fancy being on one of them in a thunderstorm.

Soon we reached the top where we were presented with a cool view of Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman). It was weird thinking we were down there just 3 days before driving on a motorway into the mountains.

Now to find camp for the night

From here we could see where we needed to go, basically following the valley around into a forest at the other end. That was easily 2 miles and all fairly flat. As the view was more obscured here, we decided to get these done quick time. I think we did a mile within about 15-20 minutes, which I guess wasn’t bad considering we were kitted up!

Not too many photos now as the light was starting to diminish with the clouds rolling in. It was 5pm, we probably carried on walking for another hour where we decided we really need to find a place to camp for the night.

Probably about 10 minutes later, we came into another valley where we saw a water source. That was our destination, we just had to hope for some flat spots nearby. As we came closer to the source, we could see there wasn’t anywhere to camp however, there was a cabin further down with plenty of flat space in front of it which although looked muddy as hell, we decided to check it out.

Yep, definitely flat but as Austin said, it may as well have been a big cowpat. Not ideal for sleeping on! We decided to try our luck with the cabin door, and to our shock, it was open.

Not particularly beautiful (Austin captures it best in his video) being made from concrete and with plenty of structural issues, we decided to make the most of it anyway. At least it was flat! Now looking back at this, I couldn’t find any reference to this being a shelter or anything similar although there was a sign on the door which translated to “please respect the place/premises”. We did this – we took nothing, left everything as it was and made sure to give it a tidy before we left the next morning.

This cabin was a small luxury as we had a table to cook and talk! I had another 1,000-calorie freeze-dried meal and just as I finished, the sun was shining some beautiful red light on the clouds in the distance. Not my best shot, it was more of a memory to end the day.

For the rest of the night we sat round and talked about the epic trip so far, plus Scott captured a pretty awesome shot of us – check it out.

Soon it was time to hit the sack, I was feeling knackered. With a total of 8 miles covered, we did pretty well and I feel we made the most of the beautiful weather and thankfully there was no thunderstorm! The next two days looked just as great as the last.

Just as we all got into bed, Austin shouted ‘s**t a frog just hit my head!!” – I guess that gives you an idea as to the place we were sleeping in. Hmmm… maybe a tent would have been better!!

The next day will be our last full day hiking in the Alps and it was definitely one of our most active. We covered some serious miles! We really had to. The scenery was just as amazing with a cool cloud inversion in the morning and hints of autumn all along the way. Stay tuned ;).

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