August 15th, 2018
17.7km | ascent 675m | descent 526m
Accommodation in La Fouly: Maya Joie (booking.com, CHF 104 including breakfast)
Reading in the guidebook that this was an easy first stage along the Val Ferret valley with a suggested time of 5 hours (or 4 according to the locals), we weren’t in too much of a hurry to leave Champex and went down for breakfast just after 8am. The hosts of Ptarmigan had left out a delicious array of fruit, bread, cheese, boiled eggs, cereal and jam which made for a wonderful breakfast. Before leaving, we chatted with the owner Jamie and he gave us a handful of green gage plums to take; this was a wonderful gesture (as well as keeping a carry-on bag in storage for us) and eating the juicy plums later in the day was a real highlight.
We walked to the southeastern end of town and found our first TMB sign that would lead us briefly up then downhill through forest for the first 2 hours, passing numerous wooden sculptures.
At the bottom of the descent we came to a small quaint village called Issert, then shortly after passed through another charming village called Les Arlaches. Both had fountains where you could refill water. Just before the next village of Praz-de-Fort we mistakenly followed the TMB cycle track but only for a short time before we met back up with the trail we were supposed to be on.
Dad’s pace was noticeably faster than mine (I’m 38 and he’s 69 but considerably fitter!) but I always knew he was going to be the ‘hare’ – this is just his nature; never sitting still, rushing everywhere and filling every minute. This is also how I would usually describe myself, but in the company of the master of these traits, mine seemed somewhat diminished and I was now the ‘tortoise.’ Maybe the aim of this hike should be for both of us to try and slow down…
One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be a lot of fun and certainly not a serious hike with dad along!! 😉
We found some comfortable looking rocks in the shade along the trail and stopped for a lunch of fruit and chocolate. We’re both carrying quite heavy food bags filled with jerky, chocolate, dried fruit, nuts and Kendal mint cake… it’s too soon to know if we really need it or not but the current aim is to eat through it every chance we get.
We arrived in La Fouly and continued to the end of the village and up a small hill to arrive at our accommodation for the night called Maya Joie, with stunning mountain and glacier views. We had a private room with shared bathroom and (other than the private room), it was much like staying in an albergue on the Camino; we washed our clothes in the basin and hung them up in our window using my clothes line. Dinner was available at the accommodation and they were serving a traditional Swiss specialty of melted cheese called Raclette but we decided to give this a pass and find something in the village instead.
We wandered back into the village and bought some crackers, cheese and ham from the supermarket for tomorrow’s lunch, then had a beer to celebrate making it through day 1! We ate an enormous and delicious pizza for dinner overlooking the glacier, then made our way back to our accommodation and ended the day with a game of scrabble and lots of laughs in the communal room.
Considering today was suppose to be a ‘walk in the park,’ it was harder than I was expecting. I’d be lying if I said I’m not nervous about the challenging days ahead!