Day 6 - Down & Up

There’s something vaguely unsettling about starting a walk downhill and ending uphill, but that’s the route today, and it’s a short one. The sun disperses the remnants of last night’s rain clouds, and we amble happily down the valley. We haven’t a care in the world.

Provided, that is, we don’t stop in a stream bed. Warning notices abound, explaining that the automatic operation of hydroelectric apparatus can turn a dry river bed into a raging torrent in ten seconds. If you believe the captioned photographs on the danger signs, you’ll dash across every ditch and dyke from here to Les Houches!

The villages in the valley are a mix of traditional and modern buildings. The traditional ones are made entirely of wood. Humans lived above, whilst animals and winter feed stayed below. The fields still yield hay, and today irrigation maximises the number of crops each year. At Praz de Fort we stop at the Café du Portalet, where Graham and Lesley are finishing their coffee. Adrian and Jo come in as we leave to walk down the valley to Issert with Mark and Robyn.

This is Switzerland…

…as once was this

Now we have to climb 431m to Champex-Lac, a trivial matter after our successes on other days. We take lunch in the shade of a tree before tackling the climb through the woods. It is a steady ascent, and we reach our destination early in the afternoon. The little holiday town sits beside its small lake, which is impounded on the very lip of a hanging valley by a glacial moraine. (When I was a kid I would have loved to break such a dam and see the torrent rush down the hill, but Swiss engineers clearly got there before anyone of my persuasion.)

Looking across the village of Isset towards Champex-Lac, centre top

The sun is hot, the hotel rooms and balconies have a powerful appeal, and the word is that the young woman in the Tourist Bureau, where one can change currency, is as pretty as a picture. Bill and Martin check out the rumour and confirm it is so. I collect a cheap litre of red wine, while Alec checks on Bill’s and Martin’s report. After a couple of beers by the lake we sit on our balcony and drink the wine.

Left: Lesley, Colin. Right: Reg, Nancy, Graham, Robyn

Left: Hilja, Alec, Martin, Anne. Right: Emily, Dave, Adrian, Jo, Alan’s arms

We have a good dinner with the rest of the group. All in all it’s been a steady day, with a free one tomorrow.

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