Today was a bit of a “rest day” with only 4-5 hours of walking. Only 400-500 metres of altitude gain versus some stages with nearly 2000 metres of climbing. The first part of the day was a pleasant meander through the rolling Swiss Valley, winding through a few charming villages.
For lunch I stopped at a cafe in Issert for an over-the-top meal. The proprietor recommended the “Croûte” which was explained as “cheese on toast” but was actually a vat of delicious melted cheese with various surprises (cornichons, ham, bread) hiding in the cheese. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The Swiss take the theme of “melted-cheese-and-bread” very seriously, and I approve!
After eating that culinary masterpiece, my strong inclination was to locate a shady spot to take a nap. Instead, the route led me straight up a steep forested hill for 1 1/2 hours. The path, dull by TMB standards, was adorned with wooden carvings of forest animals and mushrooms. I could find no explanation for their existence. There must be a story there!
A note about this section of the trail: a common shortcut is to go by bus from Issert to Champex, bypassing this climb through the forest. Most of my acquaintance, in fact, took this option. I believe my thoughts, even after a heavy lunch, ran along the lines of “I didn’t come to the Alps to take the bus!” This purist’s mindset is forgivable, and while I don’t exactly regret my decision, next time I will take the bus.
I arrived in Champex, a busy Alpine town full of hotels and restaurants, in the midafternoon. Here I joined several trail buddies at a lakeside patio for a rather decadent ice cream sundae. Being Switzerland, my ice cream plus a coke came to 15 euros. Despite getting more exercise than I have in my life, at this point on the trek I realized it was becoming harder to button my hiking pants. But I was losing weight in the vicinity of my wallet!
I checked into the Pension en Plein Air, and took a walk around the lake before dinner. Food at the pension was decidedly so-so. My allergy-friendly meal was a hamburger patty on a pile of plain rice with peas and carrots (from frozen). Dessert was canned fruit with whipped cream. Not the best meal of the trip, but the surroundings made up for it!