7/18/16 – Refugio Bonatti to Champex-Lac

Fifth day on the TMB trail notes.
Refugio Walter Bonatti, Val de Aoste, Italy to Gite Bon Abri, Champex-Lac, Switzerland.

We sat next to Walter Bonatti at breakfast. Walter is dead but there is a very elaborate shrine with his ashes just to one side of the dining room. We didn’t notice last night but there you have it.

After that interesting start to the day we made our way towards Switzerland. We knew this was going to be a long day but we were hopeful of making good time because there were several flat sections. We did make good time at first with a 4-5 mile rolling to down hill section of the trail. At Refugio Elena the climb to Col de la Grand Ferret begins. Our guide said the climb was long but not steep. The climb was long and only not as steep as the climbs the day before but we did wonder if we would see the top. We finally made it and were able to cross over into Switzerland. That’s Italy to the left and Switzerland to the right:

We continued to make good progress for about the next 10 miles or so since a lot of the terrain was flat through a lovely Swiss valley with postcard-like villages.

At about mile 14 or so we began a gradual climb. It was definitely the easiest climb we have done so far but by the time we came to that section we were both so exhausted and dealing with various ailments that we slowed considerably.

At mile 21 or thereabouts we made it into Champex-Lac. There is a beautiful Lac (lake) that was so inviting we could not resist sitting in it for a bit to cool off and cool down some weary body parts.

After walking another mile or two we made it to the Gite Bon Abri.

Gite Bon Abri is a smallish hut situated just off the trail and surrounded by forest. We had a very good dinner consisting of salad and a sort of spaghetti sauce over rice. There was plenty of both so we both took advantage and got in plenty of calories.

We met lots of Scottish people at this hut, none of whom knew each other or were together. We also met a Welsh man who was doing what is called the Haute Route, which runs from Chamonix to Zermatt. He was in his mid sixties and not exactly fit, but he did appear to be determined. He was also very tired as evidenced by the fact that he is the first person I have ever seen/heard snore while being face down on their bed. This continued into the night but by this point in the trip we were becoming accustomed to the noise and were able to sleep through most sounds.

After looking at the map and studying our route, M figured on another 16 miles the next day which we then converted to actual miles and figured on another 20 miler.