In his guidebook, Kev Reynolds writes that this is the easiest stage of the TMB. Please bear in mind that you still have a height gain of 450m.
We had heard the rain through the night from our warm, dry room at Auberge des Glaciers at La Fouly and we spared a thought for the people under canvas at the nearby campsite.
It was raining heavily as we left La Fouly
and the full river was evidence that it had rained heavily all night.
We even had to get creative with plank of wood to avoid getting very wet feet.
We followed the TMB down Val Ferret. There is a slightly exposed section – and it felt exposed in the rain as everywhere was slippery and running with water. I don’t normally bother with the fixed chains provided in such locations but I did on this day. The walk down through the woods was lovely, even in the rain, as everything looked and smelled so fresh (except us). There is a lovely wooded causeway called the Crete de Saleina which follows the crest of an ancient lateral moraine of the fast-receding Saleina glacier before sloping down into the main valley. Somehow we missed our chance of coffee at Prazde Fort and were at Arlaches before we knew it. Arlaches is lovely, with timeless chalets and barns and narrow winding streets (a bit like an Alpine Polperro!).
There were large groups walking up Val Ferret with several mules carrying their gear. The mules seemed to be used to it and walked along mostly unaccompanied.
Eventually the TMB reaches Issert at 1055m where we could not find a cafe and we really needed it as we were about to start the ascent to Champex Lac. Compared to the climbs of the previous days the elevation was modest but we found it arduous (and wearisome). This may have been because we had no views to distract us or maybe because it was more strenuous in the humidity. The Swiss have been busy carving things out of wood. There are lots of carved animals, mushrooms, and some pretty dodgy looking phallic-shaped sculptures. Someone has spent a great deal of time carving all the stumps around here making for an interesting walk. It helped take our minds of the increasingly steep climb up to Champex.
Its a bit strange after climbing uphill for a couple of hours to emerge at Champex Lac as there is indeed a reasonably sized lac.
We easily found our billet for the night at Au Club Alpin and spent the remains of the afternoon drinking beer and watching the Tour de France. Later Germany inflicted a 7 – 1 defeat on Brazil in the World Cup semi-final but we were fast asleep by then.