So far I had always decided on taking the more challenging and often more scenic high routes of the TMB. Today was different. The Fenetre d’Arpette variant was still closed due to the amount of snow and rumors told us that someone died there in early season and someone else broke his leg just one week ago. Therefore I decided early to stay on the main TMB-route that would lead from Champex-Lac to Trient via Alp Bovine.
Devon left before me – as most days – and she would arrive in Trient hours before me. I don’t know how she did it but she was flying over the trail! We would meet again in the afternoon as we had booked the same hotel in Trient.
Early morning hike
I didn’t have to wake-up as I could barely find some sleep in the freezing cold of my party tent. I was happy and relieved when morning came and I could make my way into the Gite Bon Abri to have some breakfast. Time to warm up!
I talked to the only people I had met on this trip who are hiking the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt – a family from Toronto in Canada. Maybe the Haute Route could be another hike on my list, I don’t know yet. Does anyone want to join me? 🙂
After breakfast I packed up my stuff and hit the trail. It was cold in the valley and the first few kilometers would be downhill. The sun slowly came up behind the mountains but didn’t shine into the valley where I hiked yet. It was like hiking in a different world. The sun makes all the difference! I watched some mountains glowing in the distance (in the evening it’s called the famous “alpine glow” as I would learn later ;-)) and hiked along mountain meadows and a small river.
Lost on trail?
Very soon I entered a pine forest and the trail started climbing towards Alp Bovine. The sun came out after a while and as soon as I was warm enough I got rid of my jacket and put on some sunscreen. I enjoyed the climb this morning as there were no steep drop-offs to worry about at all. The trail climbed in the center of a valley and very soon it levelled off a bit leading through green mountain meadows.
That’s when a hiker came towards me and asked where the trail is. I looked around. There was only one trail and I was on it. Or not? I pulled out my phone and checked the map. And indeed. The map showed that the trail would normally go to the left. Together we walked back until we reached the junction. The trail shown by the GPS was only a path on the grass used by a few hikers before. I checked the map again to see if we could just walk ahead. And we could. Both trails would join again later.
We both decided to take the obvious trail. After a litte bit of descending and the crossing of some small streams the trail climbed fairly steep up the mountainside. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath but eventually I got up to the top where the trail levelled off and led along the mountain.
I was hiking through green mountain meadows dotted with all kinds of alpine flowers. No wonder an armada of butterflies was busy flying from flower to flower. I loved to stop and watch them. the song “Butterfly” from a-ha was always on my mind.
The trail switched around another corner and revealed a wide view over the valley to the right. And there! Was that Mont Blanc in the distance?
Beautiful Alp Bovine
I hiked on until I finally reached Alp Bovine and passed by the probably most photographed cows on the TMB. The weather was just about perfect again and Alp Bovine looked like the perfect place to sit down, have a drink and enjoy some sunshine.
I couldn’t resist the chocolate cake and took a seat on the already crowded terrace. Looking into the distance I was waiting for some familiar faces to show up. Where were the South Africans? After a while Caroline, Richard and there kids from Scotland arrived. They joined me at my table and I recommended some chocolate cake.
After more than one hour I was ready to keep going. From Alp Bovine it would just be another 50m of altitude to gain before the trail would descend down the mountain towards Col de Forclaz (1527m).
A busy mountain pass – Col de Forclaz (1527m)
I climbed further up until the trail went through a gate and then started descending into the valley. The challenge of the descent was cow dung everywhere and it was hard to avoid. Descending down it got hotter and hotter.
When I arrived at Col de Forclaz – a busy mountain pass with a busy road, a refuge directly next to the road and lots of people – I immediately shooted into the small shop to buy myself an icecream. I was standing outside in the shade when I could see David nearby. David the runner! Just a few days ago I thought I would never see him again. I went over for a chat. Apparently he was booked in at the refuge next to the road which didn’t look so inviting. It was great to see David again but after a while my feet wanted to move again.
Trient in Switzerland
After saying goodbye to David I jumped on the next trail section and descended between pine trees down towards the small village of Trient. Looking down into the valley I could already see the rose-colored church.
I passed the village sign, the church and made my way to Hotel Les Grandes Ourses. Devon was already waving at me when I walked down the street. I checked into my dorm room and aimed for the shower. My blisters in the back of my heels needed some care. There was not much I could do other than leaving them open to breathe and heal a bit.
Hotel Les Grandes Ourses
The hotel seemed to be brand new with big dorm rooms and nice bathrooms. In front of the building was another wooden building with big glass windows. The bar. Devon and I went in for a refreshing beer and to watch one of the soccer games on the big screen. It was a great place to hang out for a while.
After a nice dinner we were joined by Dillon – one of the South Africans – who came all the way from the campground to use the wifi. Or was it because of the pretty girls around?! 😉
After a glass of red wine I was tired very soon and it was time for me to call it a day. I think I didn’t even finish watching the evening soccer game. I was way too tired! And tomorrow would be another challenging hiking day. We would hike back into France again!
–> next post: Day 9 – Trient to Tré le Champs
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