TMB Day 1 – Champex to La Peule – Welcome Camp to Yurt Camp
Miles hiked: 0
Kilometers hiked: 22-ish
Total Kilometers: 22
With earplugs in and my beanie pulled over my eyes I was able to snooze through the hubbub as eager hikers packed up and sliced their baguettes for breakfast. I felt like a new man when I finally emerged at 9am into a gray, damp world. It had rained solidly until 2am and clouds still lingered, obscuring the valley walls, but they seemed spent.
I scooped down some yogurt, packed up my damp tarp, then hit the road to Champex Lac on a quest for authentic Swiss cheese and to eventually find the trail. The small supermarket had many similar looking rounds of cheese, but I had no French with which to communicate a preference. I pointed and smiled and got a wedge that looked the part. With all supplies in pack, I started the tumble out of town down the trail proper.
Cloudy skies persisted as I hiked up the gentle grade of Val Ferret, passing through idyllic village after idyllic village. The trail wound through woodland and open pastureland, the source of the cheese in my pack. The sun poked through the clouds for brief moments truly lifting my spirits. I’m hiking in the Alps! In Switzerland!
My mood was lifted further still when my eyes started catching the abundance of berries that lined the trail. Raspberries, teeny weeny strawberries, and even a gross, bitter purple thing. I raided another cherry tree too. This brought me back to Oregon on the PCT when I had to limit myself to half an hour of huckleberry picking per day. Fortunately, on the TMB the time constraints aren’t so severe so I can gorge with impunity.
The rain started coming down around midday so I deployed my umbrella and pack cover. It was a warm, gentle rain though so it couldn’t dampen my mood. In La Fouly, I joined up with the only other person hiking in my direction. Spice Rack had hiked the PCT in 2016 so we hit it off immediately, reminiscing about the trail and our glory days. I got some bread and tomatoes at the supermarket, then we marched off up the valley in the light rain.
I was planning on camping somewhere away from any settlement, but when we reached the small dairy/refuge of La Peule, home of Romi the cow, after a stiiiff climb, I didn’t take much convincing to setup for the evening in the yurt overlooking impossibly lush pastureland at the head of the valley. We shared dinner and stories on the damp outdoor patio furniture before a biting wind forced us inside to contemplate the day and solve the world’s problems.
Great first day despite the weather. Peaks occasionally poking through the clouds hinted at great things to come if the weather clears a little. Glad I’m going clockwise, as the large tour groups are always traveling opposite. Good to be hiking. Good to be back.