Tour du Mont Blanc :: Bovine Trail to Champex

Rain again during the night, so everything was nice and damp and cold at 07:00 when we poked our noses out of the tent. At this stage everybody was so efficient at packing and loading everything we were starting to make Charlie and Liz grumpy by wanting our breakfast before 08:00 and standing around waiting to leave before 09:00.

Eventually we set off back up the road out of Trient, up into the woods and back onto the TMB. Once again, the path zig-zagged steeply up through the forest until we reached the Col de la Forclaz about 45 minutes later and stopped to buy chocolate and, bizarrely, cigars.

Along the way, I noticed that a walker passing us by was wearing a Guinness t-shirt so I asked him was he Irish. Turns out he was Kevin from Cork, and doing this half of the TMB self-guided on his own using UTracks. We met up again several times over the next few days and had interesting chats comparing notes on the walk.

From the Col de Forclaz we climbed steadily along the well known Bovine Trail until we came out of the trees to wonderful views north, brilliant sunshine and a pretty little refuge below us where we stopped for lunch and a beer, hot chocolate or coffee.


Cathy and Her Cow

Cathy and Her Cow

Contouring along from the refuge on a true alpine path we passed plenty more milka cows making an awful racket with their bells, and then descended through the woods, crossing a few streams, past the refuge at Champex d’en Haut down into the valley near Champex. At this point, everyone was feeling fairly tired after a long days walking and we still had a bit to go, so Gary, Janina, Catherine and I put the heads down and doggedly ploughed on back up the valley as fast as we could towards Champex, out onto as busy road and eventually came to the campsite.

Most people just collapsed when they reached the campsite, but somehow I still had a fair bit of energy for putting up the tent, unpacking, making some tea, having a shower (one of the nicest and hugely welcome after the previous rough camp), playing some frisbee with Brian and wandering down to Champex where I bought a TMB t-shirt. Dinner that night started with some bread, olive oil and spicey nuts (which worked suprisingly well), then a very cheesy carbonara with crab sticks (made a pig of myself with seconds) and a tasty mixture of yoghurt, fruit and chocolatey bits for dessert.

After dinner, and after a very frantic, noisy, but efficient washing-up session, we went back down to Champex and sat out on a terrace by the lake for a few beers. Catherine and I, Brian, Neil and Valerie sat outside in the peace and quiet chatting, but most of the others stayed inside where they met the hotel group and danced to music played by some guy with an accordian.

On the way home, Brian, Neil and Valerie had the two of us almost convinced that a bright red, five-pointed light in the sky was a star or planet until we could just about make out the silhouette of moutains around the Aiguille de Tour somewhere. Must have been some kind of mast or something, but it’s very strange when you’re not used to the landscape around you being so high.

We pretended to take offence at their duplicity and stormed on ahead back to the campsite and went straight to bed. Up in the middle of the night, as usual, to go to the loo but bizarrely Omar emerged, at the same time, from his tent on one side of us and Janina from the tent on the other side of us. We all just looked confused at each other, grunted and continued on.

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