TMB Part 5: Rifugio Bonatti to Champex-Lac
Read the complete TMB series: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
TMB Day 6: Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly (Italy to Switzerland)
Since the Bonatti Refuge was in the mountains, not in town, I was up and outside at the crack of dawn to see what photos might be taken. It wasn't the best early morning I've done, but the mountains were beautiful in the early light.
|Bonatti hut with Monte Bianco in the distance catching the morning sun.|
After being up very early for the photos, it seemed an eternity until breakfast at 7 or 7:30. We finally got fed (as noted last week, breakfast was limited in scope but all-you-can-eat so we were able to get enough food to go on with), and headed out. Today's hike was the longest of the whole trip, and we had a major pass to climb (and descend even farther), so we didn't dilly-dally. The first part of the walk, however, was a fairly easy traverse with fantastic views.
|Through the window of one of the many ruined buildings scattered through the Alps.|
Somewhat to our dismay we had to drop a fair way before we started the climb to the Grand Col Ferret (we never did look that up to see what it really meant, just referred to it as Big Ferret Pass). Eventually we began to climb in earnest--and climb, and climb...
Winds were high at the summit, but we were able to find a hollow to hunker in and enjoy the sun (and second lunch) without being blown away. Then followed the very long descent from the pass to La Fouly. We are now in Switzerland, having crossed out of Italy when we crossed the pass. We have been warned we won't see Mt. Blanc again for a while, though there are lots of other mountains and other types of scenery.
At the end of a nearly 13-mile day, with about 2750' of climb and 4150' of descent, we were ecstatic to see our hotel. Dinner, when we finally got it, was an even better sight, if appallingly expensive.
|The giant salad with which they started the prix fixe meal was a real treat--veggies were too often in short supply in restaurant meals.|
TMB Day 7: La Fouly to Champex-Lac
This was a day that was mostly quite easy, then hit us with the climbing at the very end. The morning was idyllic, though, as we strolled down the river path out of La Fouly.
After a couple hours of strolling along the side of the Ferret river, we left the woods for a time and engaged in what passes for urban walking in that remote corner of the country. Dropping down through Praz de Fort, we found a lot of classic Swiss buildings to admire.
A short walk through some pastures took us to the village of Les Arlaches, which was just too cute to be real, with gnomes and other miniatures in yards, or perfectly tended flowers in the window boxes. Being new to Switzerland, I though this was done special for this village, but I later found that pretty much everywhere on the tourist circuit, at least, was immaculate and just a little too perfect.
|This was a miniature that I didn't think was too cute--it was, in fact, an impressive bit of stone art.|
A lot of the walk so far we had to ourselves (I'm not sure why; maybe due to bus service and/or multiple potential routes. After we crossed back over the river at Issert, we began the climb (so long deferred as to have been forgotten so a total surprise) and suddenly found many of our fellow travelers, similarly engaged in the long, slow slog up the 900' climb from the valley to Champex-Lac. Hitting the climb in the heat of the afternoon and at the end of a longish day made it harder than it looked on paper. It was a pleasure to reach the small lake at last, where at least a little breeze stirred the water and cooled us off a bit. Europe was starting to heat up.
|Lac de Champex. We had to walk to the far end to reach a grocery store and our hotel.|
This was definitely a night for a yummy grocery-store salad and cold cuts dinner on the balcony as the sun faded away.
|Showered and starting to stuff food into ourselves--what's not to smile about? Plus being out on our huge shared balcony!|
|Last light in the Alps|
Stats: 10 miles, 1540' up, 1960' down. At least this descent was largely a gentle downhill, not the steep scrambles of many other days!
Next week (I hope): the end of the TMB!
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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