In early november, I made a 7-day preparation trip in the French Alps. First I did a 4-day trekking around the Aiguilles Rouges Range north of Chamonix in a breathtaking autumn wonderland. The weather was splendid and I even was able to climb Mont Buet (3096m), something I did not consider to be possible that late in the season as I did not bring ice axe or crampons. Subsequently, I floated some sections of the Arve and Rhône rivers into Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. The Arve is mostly PR2-3, the Rhône PR1-2 with long flatwater sections. As I was solo and the Arve is a very cold river (draining the glaciers of Mont Blanc), I skipped the more difficult rapids.
It was a great opportunity to test some new gear. My ULA Epic backpack did a fantastic job. I really liked the comfort, even with an 18kg load. I also experimented with lightweight Esbit and alcohol stoves, and will probably use them on my big trip next year.