Sunday, July 22, 2018
Start: La Fouly, Auberge Maya-Joie
End: Champex, Gite Bon Abri
Elevation: 2946′ gain, 3423′ descent
This morning, after gloriously good sleep, we got up around 6:45am, had breakfast at 7am, and started hiking around 8am. The first few hours of hiking were smooth, mostly consisting of either road, single track dirt road, or forest path, all going in a downhill direction. We passed through Praz-de-Fort and nothing was open; we did manage to find an open restaurant (and a bathroom) a bit later when we passed through Issert. It was really awkward trying to find somewhere to do bathroom business when we were constantly walking by busy roads and through tiny towns.
From there, Toby and I took the uphill climb up to Champex at our own paces. The climb wasn’t bad; it employed a lot of switchbacks, but I think many people found the climb surprising, after such a smooth day leading up to it. Part way up, there were a number of good views of the valley and Orsieres. There was also a rock wall clearly bolted for sport climbing, though no one was climbing when I passed by today.
I arrived in town around 1:30pm, surprised to find a huge artists’ festival happening on the main street. There were all kinds of food and craft vendors, in addition to the numerous restaurants and grocery store already in town. I saw Wayne and chatted with him for a bit, then I went by the grocery store for a snack, and found a place by the Lac de Champex to read and wait for Toby, away from the crowds.
Toby arrived around 3pm, noting that I had all of our food and he was hungry. So we had a snack with our crackers and cheese, and then headed through town, stopping at the grocery store to pick up supplies, as it’s the last grocery store until Les Houches and Chamonix.
From there, we weaved our way through the crowds and out of town, stopping to watch some exhibitions of traditional Swiss music and dancing, done for the arts festival. After escaping town, we walked for another 15 minutes and then arrived at Gite Bon Abri, just around 4pm as they opened for guest registration.
It looks like Wayne, Brittney, and a few other folks we’ve been hiking with are staying here tonight. Toby and I washed our clothes and hung them out to dry. We’re hoping the possible evening thunderstorms will hold off long enough for our clothes to dry. It looks like the hostel will be full tonight; we’re in the 3rd floor dormitory, and there are maybe 20 beds, all single mattresses, about 15 of them adjacent to each other, shoulder to shoulder.
Tomorrow should hold more climbing, and more mountain views. We’re heading to Col de la Forclaz, and it will be our last night in Switzerland. The poor signage has been an ongoing issue, though today was less crucial as it was all valley walking on a weekend (read – crowded). Additionally, the prices here are really high; at least $15-20/night more expensive than other places, and individual grocery items are $1-2 more (Swiss Francs are about equivalent value as US Dollars).