Em, Nick, and I went hiking in Valais today. We started at Vernayaz (452 m) and finished at Finhaut (1224 m) with a side trip through Gorges du Triège along the way. The trail is called Route des Diligences and it occasionally follows the Mont-Blanc Express train tracks from Vernayaz to Salvan, Les Marécottes, and Finhaut, a town very close to France. (Em’s phone was confused and didn’t know if she was in France or Switzerland.)
It took us a little bit of time to find the trailhead, but after some wandering through the one-road town (typical Switzerland), we found the lovely yellow trail signs! Up we went. The first part of the hike was on a well-groomed, wide path. Trees provided some shade, but boy was it HOT. The trail consisted of a bunch of switchbacks (yo Char, remember when I was so confused by the mountains appearing on the left then right sides of the train windows???) centered around a stream of water that came from up high. We came into an area well-shaded by trees and decided to go off-trail to meet up with the stream.
Upon reaching Salvan, we had to walk on the road for a bit before the trail turned into a separate path. We took a break for a wonderful picnic lunch! Prosciutto and cheese (tomme) sandwiches never tasted so good!! And of course a hike and picnic in Switzerland isn’t complete without some chocolate 🙂
After lunch, we walked a bit through a forested path and back onto a road before we saw the start of a gorge. It was the Gorges du Triège. We saw stairs that went up. Following the philosophy of “just go up,” we went up and found ourselves looking down into beautifully blue, crystal clear water. Would have been perfect for canyoning!! We walked into some tunnels carved into the face of the cliff, which were unsurprisingly equipped with lights and a light switch. Where does Swiss infrastructure NOT reach? The caves were wonderfully cool–a welcome respite from the hot sun. Since there were more stairs, we continued up and started following the trail Sentier des Gorges du Triège. The trail ended at a train station. A bit confused, we walked around, trying to find the trail to Finhaut. Turns out, we made a giant (vertical oval) and essentially ended up some 400-500 meters from the start of the gorges trailhead.
After our little detour, we continued up. Mostly on trails shaded by trees. We reached Finhaut, which was anti-climatic. I was expecting some sort of grand top-of-the-trail-panorama-view, but we just ended up in the town. We had spectacular views of Mont Blanc though! We took the Mont-Blanc Express back to Martigny and from there, went home to Lausanne.
On a side note, while in Martigny, I saw some posters:
Swiss citizens not only vote for government officials, but also on referendums. Next week, citizens of Valais have the opportunity to vote on several referendums. This one is on whether or not a set of funds should be created to fund a 3rd correction of the Rhône river. I think it’s interesting how Swiss citizens vote so often on so many issues.