Thursday, September 14, 2006

August 23rd, 2006 Col de la Forclaz to Champex
We woke up around 6:30am. Snug in our "Cocoons", our soft bed lining. Most of the beds don't have sheets, just a down comforter (which is warm enough). Breakfast was pretty weak (but there would be weaker). Coffee (hot chocolate for me) and a lone croissant. I think it was because of this breakfast that I found myself gorging myself at other breakfasts. (The fear of getting cranky from hunger?) Still, we bought a picnic lunch from the hotel and we were on our way. 8:45am.

Today's hike was to Champex via the Fenetre d'Arpette. The LEGENDARY Fenetre because it was suppose to be a very difficult climb and a spectacular view. The day before we saw the hike across the valley and it looked precarious and consequently made me nervous. Not because it was physically strenuous but because it looked easy to fall off the side of the mountain. The night before I even suggested we take the easier route because of Shawn's knee pain. No way, we are suppose to get extremely close to the Glacier du Trient (pictured above), this huge glacier that runs off into that glacier torrent I mentioned previously (I think this is the shrinking glacier referred to in An Inconvenient Truth). So Shawn downed some liquid gel caps of Advil.

We actually retraced our steps to the Chalet du Glacier and then, drum roll, we went up 1100 meters (3600 feet, remember?). It took us 4 hours and 15 minutes to get to the top. It is a lot of ledge trails, where you're walking and one good slip and you'd be flying. A couple of times I was nervous but not as nervous as I thought I'd be looking at it from across the way. It was hard but I think because we knew it was going to be such a challenge it was easier to accomplish. My theory anyway.

We ate our picnic at the top and talked to the Americans (David and Gisele) from the hotel. They were going to Verbier like us but eventually were hooking up with a guide to do some mountain climbing (geez). They were from San Francisco and looked so normal--as opposed to looking like athletes or hippies, I guess. We had a couple o f laughs about our various aches and pains and they left. The way down was a knee nightmare and the boulder field was just an ankle twist waiting to happen but we managed. Oh, and it was a good time.

Five hours later we arrived in Champex. We just kept going down and when we reached the valley floor we saw ANOTHER valley floor lower we had to get to. How does God make these things? There are emotional ups and downs for me during each days hike...based on scenery, food consumption, and weather. So far we have been blessed with clear skies and great temperatures. My favorite part of this day was the walk from Arpette to Champex (a valley to valley walk). Most of it was along a rushing stream that turned into an amazing waterfall.

Champex is a spectacular village with a clear pretty lake in the middle. We had to walk across the town to get to our hotel but it was a huge payoff. Hotel Belevedere was -ugh, I need another word for beautiful. It was classy, Swiss, beautiful, quaint, perfect. Everything a Swiss hotel should be. Our balcony faced both east and south - we had a corner room. Dinner was fantastic. Lamb shank. Genius Chocolate Mousse dessert. The owner, Gabrielle (sign on wall) spoke a little English but his daughter was fluent (I liked talking to him though). After dinner I intended to sit on the balcony and write in my journal but I never made it. Bed for both of us at 9pm.


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