Apart from the the fact that I was burnt to a crisp, today was a fairly uneventful day. Not a single mountain pass to cross and minimal remote country to traverse.
It was almost unbearably sunny, and the gentle ten mile walk down the valley to Champex was lovely. From the campsite I followed the river straight down the valley, through a handful of tiny Swiss towns just waking up to the early morning. The only part offering anything close to excitement was an exposed narrow section of trail through which I had to grip onto a metal chain fixed to the rock face.
Following an easy track through a scattering of chalets and barns, I made friends with some curious cows before passing through the hamlet of Issert and beginning a short but steep ascent. I climbed a forested trail lined with a bizarre array of carved wooden mushrooms to reach Champex.
Champex is a tranquil ski resort, built around a small lake on a natural shelf between Val d’Arpette and Val Ferret. I could have stayed here all day. The bluer-than-blue lake brings flocks of tourists in peak season, but for now was empty except for a single fisherman on a boat. It was the perfect spot to stop for lunch,
I hiked down out of town through open countryside before climbing again and joining a rocky path into the mountains. The trail rose above the treeline to the old buildings of the dairy farm Alp Bovine, which is apparently still in operation although doesn’t look it.
From here I headed down through woodland to the Col de Forclaz. There’s not much to see or do on Col de Forclaz, although for some reason it’s a huge tourist spot. And very popular with cyclists. I made a quick and final resupply at the store then headed downhill to the hamlet of Le Peuty where I wild camped just outside town.
Today was a very easy day, and almost completely uneventful. But I’m not complaining. It was nice to enjoy the calming monotony of walking through beautiful wilderness without any need to rush. At more than 20 miles, it was my longest day on the Tour du Mont Blanc yet but it hadn’t felt like it at all.
With a mere 22 miles left to cover over the next two days, I’m more than ahead of schedule. However there are still some difficult climbs to tackle ahead, beginning with an 800 metre ascent first thing tomorrow morning. Better get some sleep.