Our first full day in Switzerland started with skies darkened by rain. We stepped outside into the chill, jackets under our rain gear to keep us warm. We walked through a valley past Swiss chalets and small gardens full of lettuce, squash, leeks, strawberries and raspberry bushes.
Our destination, Champex and its lake of the same name, sat atop a mountain saddle above the valley we walked in. So after a few miles, we crossed the valley and began to climb the side of a mountain. We found wild raspberries on the side of the trail, and we stopped to pick and eat them. We saw a giant brown slug, two big snails and a tiny frog. Along the climbing trail, there were wooden carvings of forest animals and mushrooms.
We picked our way carefully up the slope, for the rain made parts of the trail slippery. The misty water created its own beauty, and since we had the right equipment to say warm and dry, we enjoyed the change in weather.
Today was the easiest day on the trail, and because we had risen so early, we arrived in the small resort town of Champex at 12:30 after climbing out of the valley. Lac Champex looked beautiful, even in the rain. We stopped at a small bistro for lunch and had a salad with cold cuts, pasta bolognese and a blueberry tart. It was a most delicious lunch.
Our bellies full, we donned our rain gear and packs and trudged through the rain drops to get to the Gite de Bon Abri, only to find that they did not open their doors until 4 p.m. It was then 2:30.
This presented a dilemma of sorts. We had walked a good distance from Champex to get to the Gite. It was rainy and cold. A tarp covered a few picnic tables in the yard, and a family of four was huddled under its shelter. We joined them and removed our wet packs and rain gear. We bundled in warm outer clothes against the wind and began to read.
Another hiker showed up and, after circling the building, told us that the glass-enclosed boot room was open. It provided shelter against the wind. It also smelled strongly of sweaty feet. But warmth won over stench, so we perched our bottoms on a hard bench in the boot room and continued to read until the owner let us in and showed us to the dorm rooms. It was a luxurious evening, as we had a dortoire for six with only one other person in the room.