Day 0 – Le Couteray loop to Finhaut

Gah, this buggy wordpress app is really annoying, third time lucky I hope. [del]fourth[/del]. fifth.

Today was a day walk from the hotel to [del]Lac D’Emosson[/del] Finhault and back again. Just under 15km, 18275 steps.

Day 0 is for practice and acclimatisation, get a feel current conditions and learn lessons that are easier to manage without full packs and glaciers.

We had a much more civilised start with an 8am breakfast, walking just before 9. The sun was shining and the clear sky was picturesque through the trees. It was a steady walk alongside the railway into Vallorcine, an SNCF lad was watering the potted geraniums asked (in english) if we needed any help. Yep, not in England any more.

We carried on down the valley to the franco-swiss border, walking through a customs station was a new one for us. Passports weren’t required this time though. The collection of buildings at Le Chatelard Frontiere seemed targeted at a certain market, three petrol stations, all stocked with duty free quantities of cigarettes and chocolate.

The industrial base station for the barrage at Le Chatelard wasn’t much better for passing tourists. Our plans changed from hunting dinosaur foot prints at 2400m to a valley walk in the blink of a ‘How Much!?’ when we saw the ticket prices for the funicular. a ride up a huge incline plane would be fun, but not that fun. Didn’t seem to have stopped a coach load of trippers from Coventry though.

Next was a 250m, 50% climb up to Gietro. Punctated by many pauses for playing with the camera and one impromptu nosebleed from yours truly. Luckily it was swiftly brought undercontrol with some calming exercises and a pile of moss that Paul pulled from some passing rocks. Lots of alpine flowers, strawberries, crickets and butterflies in the sun baked glades.

We arrived in Finault just in time for lunch. Sadly the cafes were either heavily disguised or closed, so we drank deep from the station’s water trough (yay for that Swiss tradition!) and waited for a train to tkae us to a nearby lunch.

Our plans to get an ice cream from the funciculaire’s kiosk were foiled by its attendant making a break for it just as we arrived, so we wound up munching on some expensive biscuits near the border.

A great first day out, with a number of learning points. Stock up on tissues, don’t leave the cereal bars in the hotel, take it very easy uphill and avoid the heat of the day. So, walking before 8 then? Oh well, it beats climbing 900m valleys in 30 degrees.

The Belle Vue hotel lived up to its good reviews, good sized comfortable rooms, good and clean bathrooms shared between 4, cold beer, great cheap food (mmm, polenta), welcoming hotelier and free wifi. Win.

i can’t promise free wifi on the rest of the trip, so these posts will have to come in batches.

tomorrow: col de la forclaz, by one of half a dozen routes depending on the weather and how bothered we feel in the morning. Probably via Col de Balme, but the telepherique in Vallorcine is highly tempting..