We had a good run yesterday. It felt good overall and had a lot of fun going from Les Houches up to Merlet then connect to Petit Balcon back down to Les Gaillands, by the lake. It was a nice day! The leaves and pines are starting to fall on the trails. The mountain is changing colors. It’s such a blessing to see seasons change in the mountains. We are going to miss this place, a lot.
It’s such a huge difference on the mountain when the body is recovered. Today, we ease up and will ride our mountain bikes. We will surely miss our bikes and we will store it once again until we come back. It’s really nice to have a bike to get around in the valley. There’s a couple of races going on today, Chirvathlon and TAR (Trail des Aiguilles Rouges). Chirvathlon is a running and mountain bike duathlon held in Servoz and TAR is a trail running race held in the valley – this year, TAR goes from Chamonix to Vallorcine. We were able to spectate these races last year and it was so much fun! We were riding our mountain bikes up to Lac Vert last year and just happen to stumble on the duathlon. We cheered for people we don’t know! A friend raced TAR so we were able to see her at the start and finish.
One of the events I really wanted to see is held in Les Houches and we plan to check it out today. It is right by the lake a few miles from us so it should be fun riding out there. It’s Battle of the Cows! I know it sounds brutal but it is not. Here is the description of the event:
“A tradition in Switzerland and Haute Savoie, the Combat des Reines has existed since the early twentieth century. This tradition was born from the observation of natural fights that exist within a herd of cattles to establish a hierarchy, expecially from the Herens breed, in the alpine pastures. It is quite different to bullfighting. The Cow Fighting has no brutality, injuries are rare and inconsequential and there is no bloodshed, just a lot of pushing and shoving, that can become quite energetic. Before the fight, the horns of each animal are checked to ensure they cannot inflict an injury. The cows are sorted according to age and weight before being led into a ring. The first cow to back off is escorted from the ring, and so it goes until the stroppiest cow remains and wins the title of Queen.”
It is an annual event in the region and it sounds like fun. The forecast is looking sunny and warm today then the temps drop down significantly the next day but no rain!
In a couple of weeks, we leave the French Alps and head to a very small village called Imlil, Morocco. Imlil is located in the high Atlas Mountains of Morocco and it will be our based camp sitting at 1,740 m (5742 ft). A really great altitude training before our race. During the peak season, 90% of the visitors trek up to Mt Toubkal, 4,167 metres (13,671 ft) and it is considered the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and North Africa.
We decided to quickly bypass the busy Marrakech and head up to the mountain to give us time to acclimate to the new culture and place in a less busy village. It will take an average of a couple of weeks for us normally to get use to a new place.
Our hotel is up in the hills and we will be picked up by a “grand taxi” from Marrakech then a 90 min drive to Imlil village. Imlil is one of the trekking and running destination in Morocco. The village’s main income is tourism. We start our Morocco journey there and see how it goes. We are there as the tourist season ends and the the beginning of fall. Doug is quite excited about Morocco and he is spending his birthday somewhere in Morocco, we don’t know where but it will be very special no matter what. He told me we were going to ride a camel in the desert…that will be interesting.
We really won’t know what to expect but we’ve got a few trekking plans in mind. We can get a map in town and there are many day trips we can do around Imlil connecting from one Berber village to another. There are also multi-day trips we can do and there are refuge to stay at.