July 23 2006 Zinal to Villa
I arose to a nice sunny day and left the hotel (7:40; ca. 5490 feet) and headed for the Sorebois tram station across the street. I was just in time to catch the first tram to Sorebois at 8:00. After a ten minute tram ride I arrived at the upper tram station (ca. 8000 feet) and set off for the Col de Sorebois about a mile away along heather hillsides and pastures about 1500 feet higher (ca. 9500 feet). Arriving at the col at about 9:00, I sat at the gently rounded saddle for an hour soaking up the view. To the west was the Lac de Moiry, and beyond the route leading to Chamonix. To the east was a magnificent view of the Weisshorn (14,780 feet). After a nice rest I continued on over the pass and began the descent in the Val de Moiry. The trail was steep in many places but overall not too bad and the views made up for the 2100 feet of elevation loss. I arrived at the Barrage de Moiry (11:00; ca. 7400 feet) just in time for a few beers and some lunch.
I left the barrage at about noon, walked across the dam and then followed a gravel road up several switch backs, past a farm and then across pastureland, gently rising further until I came to the shores of Lac des Autannes (12:50; ca. 8810 feet). The trail then continued on around the north side of the lake and rose in a series of long switch backs up boulder and scree slopes before emerging at the Col de Torrent (1:45; ca. 9575 feet). On the path between the lake and the col I ran across an inspiring sight. A French woman, well into her seventies or early eighties, along with her two golden retrievers were coming along the path from the col. We exchanged “bon jours” and continued on our separate ways but the image of that elderly woman so contentedly hiking along with her two dogs would stick with me for a long time.
After resting at the col for about a half an hour I started once off again. The west side of the col proved to be a long descent, steep in some places and gently downhill in others. It took about two hours to make the descent all the way to Villa (4:15; 5620 feet). From there I once again walked further down into the valley to the village of Evolene (ca. 4510 feet), nearly 5000 feet below the Col de Torrent! Ready for a rest and a few beers. I checked into a hotel in Evolene and spent a much earned rest before continuing my travels.