TMB Travel Day – Bristol to Champex – Home to Welcome Camp
Miles hiked: 0
Flights taken: 2
Flights delayed: 2
Countries visited: 3
Germans spotted: Many
The day was frustrating on many levels, but a success on the only one that really matters. I am in Champex (pronounced champ-ex), in a campground along the Tour du Mont Blanc surrounded by people smellier than I am.
It all started at 3:30am this morning when I woke up to walk to the bus that would take me to the airport where I would catch a flight to Munich before catching another flight to Geneva followed by three train rides to get me to a bus stop. A bus would take me to Champex. Walking through Bristol in the morning darkness was peaceful and warm, while I scarfed the three bananas that I hadn’t been able to finish during the week. Soon I was at the airport where everything immediately got screwed up.
To make the boring short, flight delayed 2.5 hours, miss connection in Munich, catch later flight to Geneva, later train/bus to Champex, no hiking today. That’s just the way things go sometimes. Although the day just drifted by, not even my sleep deprivation induced semi-comatose state could totally smooth out the pangs of apprehension in my gut. Before big trips like this into an unknown environment, I find myself wishing that I spent my holidays doing “easier” things like sitting on a beach or hiding under my bedding. Kinda like the feeling before the first day of school. But what I’ve learned from trips to Nepal is that the feeling is instantly cured once the feet hit the trail. Hiking is hiking after all, and I know how to hike no matter where I’m doing it.
In Munich I was struck by how many Germans there were. Yeah, I know. Duh, Germans in Germany. But it was something I knew yet hadn’t prepared for. All kinds of very German Germans. It was awesome.
On the flight to Geneva I was afforded a spectacular view of the gnarly clouds passing over the Alps. The forecast hadn’t been great, but these looked downright mean. Maybe this weather system would pass through and it was a good thing I was delayed.
The amazing Swiss rail system sped me efficiently on my way around the spectacular Lake Geneva. I had expected this country to be beautiful, but not like this. Vineyards covered the slopes leading down the turquoise water and mountains reared up in jagged silhouettes truncated by cloud. I’m sure Mont Blanc itself would be visible on a clear day. What an amazing place where everyone must be happy all the time. A transfer in Martigny to the St. Bernard Express with another in Sembrancher finally put me in Orsieres, or as they say in French, Osrey.
With an hour to kill before my bus showed, I visited the restroom and examined the curious contents of the vending machine. I also walked through the charmingly Swiss village and pillaged a public cherry tree. Back to the bus stop while enjoying the fruits of my labor to hang with two canoodling youths while a hooligan hooned about on a moped.
The rain began as the last bus of the day arrived. I piled on board with one other dude for the horrendously switchbacked climb to Champex. The driver took pity on me and my poor French and dropped me off right outside the local campground. 9:00pm, five hours late, but here.
Dark and still pouring rain, even the €15 charge for a patch of grass didn’t seem overpriced as long as I didn’t have to hike. I tried waiting out the rain in the covered community benches, meeting an American couple and finding that we have mutual friends from our time playing ultimate in college. Mercifully, at 10pm it let up enough for me to pitch my tarp without swimming and I collapsed in my cramped and damp quarters. Made it. And I get to hike tomorrow.