TMB Day 9, Champex to Col de la Forclaz

July 27, 2019

Today we felt like walking again, provided it didn’t pour with rain. But when we got up at 6:30 am the weather was luckily quite good, so we didn’t need to use Plan B, which was actually quite complicated, involving two buses and two trains. The Hotel Splendide had a pretty good breakfast, and on the way through town we stopped at the boulangerie to buy a couple of sausage rolls for lunch.

Morning in Champex-Lac

Morning in Champex-Lac

Our path today ran through the town (Champex-Lac) and then downhill along a dirt road through the vacation home areas of Champex-en-haut and Champex-en-bas. After that we started the ascent to Alp Bovine, which would be 690 meters of elevation. The trail was good and not too steep, and we both felt good after yesterday’s rest so we made good time.

The remnants of yesterday’s rain

The remnants of yesterday’s rain

The trail went through the woods, which kept it cool, and we heard a lot of birds calling including a family of nutcrackers. We saw a young one being fed by its mother. At the top of the trees we came out into meadows and were soon at Alp Bovine.

Eurasian Nutcracker

Eurasian Nutcracker

There was a small restaurant there, which was convenient because it was lunch time. But the restaurant had about ten picnic tables outside which were mostly full and you had to wait about 15 minutes to place your order or use the toilet. There were five or six people working there, probably a family, serving everything from soup to beer to rösti.

Alpage de Bovine restaurant

Alpage de Bovine restaurant

The weather was still okay but we were glad to be almost at the high point, as a few raindrops came down. Paul finally got some drinks and we sat at Table 8 with the Australian family we had met in La Fouly. By now it was 1 pm and the lunch-time rush was easing up.

Outside the lunch area there were two big black cows. A woman sitting near us told us they were “queen cows” who got to go to an important competition later in the year. Our trail continued uphill for a short distance and then it was downhill to Col de la Forclaz. At 1:15 pm we started to hear thunder and by 2 pm we were putting on rain gear, just as the rain started. The rain wasn’t too heavy but it still warranted putting on Gore-Tex.

Prize cows in the alpage

Prize cows in the alpage

The trail was in good shape so we made good time, arriving at Col de la Forclaz by 2:30 pm. But the hotel’s reception didn’t open until 3 pm. And we had to take off our hiking shoes before going in, so we found our big duffle bag in a dark corner of the boot room and retrieved our indoor shoes from it. Soon we had our room, which was luckily a corner room with a view down the valley.

Hotel at Col de la Forclaz

Hotel at Col de la Forclaz

After cleaning up a bit we went outside to look around. There was a small shop across the way which mostly had souvenirs, and the food they had wasn’t suitable for lunches. And the café next to it was empty, even though it sold beer for the rock-bottom price of 3 CHF. So we went back to the hotel and ordered packed lunches for tomorrow from them instead.

Dinner was at 7 pm; the people in the dorms had their dinner at the tables in the café. But those of us in private rooms had individual tables in a smaller room. Our meal was delicious. The starter was a creamy vegetable soup followed by chicken with ratatouille, cauliflower, and frites. Dessert was vanilla and strawberry ice cream. It was a very filling meal.

We heard other people talking about the weather forecast for tomorrow, which was bad, 100% rain all day. We were hoping that this was wrong! But we had options, so we’d decide tomorrow morning what to do.

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