Today we were to walk 18km or so from Trient to Champex, mostly on forest trails.

We started at 8:30, crossing the road from our accommodation and entering an area of extensive forest. With occasional glimpses of Montigny to our left we walked uphill through the forest for 2 hours. This photo is of Pascal trying to enthuse us before heading into the wooded gloom.

This won’t be everyone’s idea of a good walk but we knew from Pascal’s briefing that today would be like this; largely forest walking with limited views. It was nice therefore that there was interest within the forest itself. Not from birds, animals or tree types but from mushrooms. We must have been in ‘mushroom central’. Every few yards, feet sometimes, there were different mushrooms. Mushroom spotting isn’t my field so I can’t tell you what they all were, but they came in a variety of shades, colours and sizes. I think my favourite was this beautifully coloured amanita muscaria. Although classified as poisonous reports of human deaths resulting from its ingestion are extremely rare.

Pascal was particularly interested in this lactarius deliciosus, commonly known as the saffron milk cup, of which he picked a few dozen for eating tomorrow.

And this monster, the big daddy of one he had picked earlier and shared with us. It was absolutely delicious.

Eventually we became mushroomed out and continued our upward toil. There really wasn’t anything else memorable to record other that the steepness and lack of interest, as seen in this photo.

Once we had gained the plateau of the Bovine, an area famous for the raising of beef, the sky cleared a little and we found ourselves at the delightful Alpage de Bovine.

A popular lunch stop for those people walking the Tour de Mont Blanc, the alpage is owned by a lady who also keeps cows, complete with neck bells, and sells wonderful home made treats, charcuterie, and drinks to travellers. Pascal introduced her to us and she poured us some of her delicious white wine. Then she learned it was one of the groups 60th birthday and she poured some more on the house. Happy birthday Nigel!

Had it been lunchtime we would doubtless have investigated the food in more detail, as others were doing.

But it wasn’t so we moved outside where a helpful panoramic photograph showed whet we would have been able to see if it wasn’t for the wretched mist.Apparently the Jungfrau is out there somewhere.

After an hour or so more forest trekking and mushroom harvesting we stopped for lunch at the L’alpage du Plan de l’au. This amazing and highly rated alpage was very popular and included a viewing terrace conplete with tables and red and white parasols. Although we did use the facilities and the bar for some amber refreshment we didn’t eat there. Instead Pascal prepared a salad and we dined al fresco on cheese, bread, saucisson and cantaloupe melon in an old shed round the back. Jolly delicious it was too!

After a longerthan customary lunch due to Nigel’s birthday we made tracks for the Relais d’Arpelle where we would spend the night. Once more the otherwise largely uninteresting, to me at least, trek through the forest was enlivened by the mushroom spotting. This was also enhanced as one of our group is quite an expert on mushrooms and was happy to bring us up to speed on characteristics andtheir names. My favourite from the afternoon was this little family. Sadly I didn’t get their name.

Eventually even we were mushroomed out for a second time and we headed along forest roads and then tracks by a surging watercourse and waterfalls to our Relais.

After finding our rooms, two dorms with much more room and light than last night, we showered and rested before dinner. Some wine and other drinks accompanied a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday dear Nigel’ then it was time for bed.

Apparently the weather is looking better for tomorrow and we should be above the clouds. Can’t wait!