Sunday, June 27, 2010
Day 19: Lavachey to Champex
After a shower and an uninspiring breakfast, we walked outside and waited for the bus. It came right on time, and brought us up the road, cutting about 45 minutes off the beginning of our hike. We got off the bus and hiked to the trail head. We could see, right above our heads, our first destination; a refuge. The walk was steep, but we had much worse to come. We had a view of a large glacier the whole time, and passed snow banks at every switchback.
We drank some tea at the refuge, and then got on our way. This was by far the hardest part of the hike: two hours of very steep, switchback filled trail up the face of the mountain. We walked with several groups, all moving at similar paces and taking stops at different times and frequencies. We took a lot of stops, and moved slowly. The scenery was beautiful: snow covered mountains, rocky ravines, and grassy faces. We made it to the top, walked through some snow patches, and took our lunch break at the peak; Italy on one side and Switzerland on the other. The Swiss side was snow covered, and though stunning, was very cold. With all our warm gear on, we ate, took photos, and schmoozed with the other hikers.
Our descent began on the snow. Naomi and I discovered the joy of running down the wet snow patches; it was almost as fun as sledding down, though not quite. This was a large portion of our hike; running through snow patches, stopping in the mud to wait for my parents, and then bounding ahead. We took a short break at the end of the snow, and then began a steep downhill to the valley.
The light at this point was amazing, the greens were so green, the whites so white, and everything else was so pronounced. We walked down a dirt road, cutting some switchbacks off on steep trails, and finally ended up at a bus stop. We waited twenty minutes, then boarded the bus. I slept while it took us to our first destination. We stopped in a small town, watched the football match for twenty minutes in a restaurant, and then got back in the bus. It took us up a mountain on a skinny, switchback laden road to Champex, where we are staying tonight. It is a beautiful little town by a little lake.
We showered and read email before dinner. During this time, I realized that I screwed up, and I don't have to be in Italy until a week after I thought I did, so right now I have an extra week on my hands with no plans. The view outside the hotel is outrageous, straight off a postcard. We ate dinner accompanied by the most stunning views of the Swiss alps. After dinner, we walked around the lake as the sun set.
I am now sitting on the deck outside my room writing this. The stars are just coming out over the peaks, as the last reds disappear in the west.