Monday 28 August 2023

France part five: Belledonne

After B d' O to V; around VAilefroide to Les Deux Alpes; and back to B d'O I start off in the Oberland. We're now in the seriously unplanned section of the trip; I need to get to Arles by the weekend, but otherwise have some time free, and the Belledonne seems like a good choice.


Mon 28th: [GPS, pix]: wake in night and open window to let in the sound of rain. Wake 7: yup, cloud and not-heavy rain. Duolingo in comfort of bed. B'fast 8 is good, looking out at the cloudy hills. Talk with Dutch cyclist and Oz walker, the latter about to start the GR54, probably from la Grave skipping the "relatively boring" Huez / Emparis stage. I'm probably going to do Huez and see how it goes. There's snow at 2200 m! I'm starting to worry about my shoes a bit, they're getting frayed.


11: I've managed to leave (b'fast was elongated) and ask in the best sports shop for a solar powered battery charger but failed (not that it would be any use today…). So now in cafe des Negotiants which is the most Fr cafe I've been in all hols: crappy Fr daytime TV, old blokes mumbling, a walker waiting out the rain (not me: its going to rain all day: I'm just doing my duty), little old ladies, football club scarves over the bar and so on.

Oberland is an old place; here it is when the gare was a gare, not a gare routiere.


I've realised the obvious: BdO is more of a cycling town. 11:20: off. Sign: Lautaret open, Galiber ferme. The 21 lacets are famous; we count them down; even I have heard of Fausto Coppi. And views down to Bourg on a grey day. Don't forget G or Tom.


Top: 2:30. Just under 3h. Interesting to walk up, and perhaps more pleasant than the path would be on a wet day. There are signs every km and every turn and graffiti on the road though less than I expected. There's also no pavement but not too much traffic. Its a fairly constant ~10% gradient and I'm going well so the 3h passes happily. For lulz, I enter my ascent as a "ride" in Strava, and discover that I'm 150,008th.


Alpe d'Huez is really bleak and empty, either in summer or just today. Which is tbh a poor day: 100% cloud, rain, somewhat windy, and cold: 6 oC says meteo. Currently in the Blueberry cafe which looked half shut but is open and warm. Just as I was thinking it was only decent to leave, as the only customer, several others come in. So I'll lurk a bit more. Vacillating: to push on, or wimp out and get a hotel? My contortions over whether to spend E95 amuse and frustrate even me. Also the meteo has worsened to 4 mm ppn in the next hour. Booked.


And so to the happily nearby Odalys AppartHotel. Which, appart from being a monstrosity, is really very nice. In terms of decor and cleanness, almost madly so. Of course it is really for the skiers. Very few hotels are open now; I wonder if they arrange amongst themselves? Go for swim mostly because I can. Watch a Falcon 9 launch. View out of window.

Tues 29th: [GPS, pix]: leave s'market 9:15 having malingered in nice Appt for a while. Also, its cold and will get warmer. Cloudy, but with breaks. Faint rainbow. Looking back to AdH:


Path is slowly up along road. Giant digger convoi exceptionel comes the other way through cloud, summer is the time for works. AdH feels bleaker, bigger, less human than L2A and while some of that is wx not all is. Oh, and most of it was shut whereas most of L2A was open.


On, and the feeling is Lakes. Navigation would be tricky if not for GPS. 10:30: chalet du lac Besson for a cafe. I am the only customer. Il y a un chat.


12:10: past the lakes, and largely past the ski crap, descend a bit towards Enversin d'Oz and stop for lunch. Fine views over to the Belledonne but not the summits. Snow above me, say at 2200 m. Sun is shining! Convert from cold gear to normal: rm down, coat, and tracksters. I've realised I'm not set up for cold wet walking: would need w'proof trous. Anyway day, whilst cloudy, is better than f'cast.

Here I'm about to drop off the L2A plateau down towards l'Enversin d'Oz; we're looking WNW; lac du Verney peeps shyly.


We're on the circuit des sangliers. 1:20: might be turning to light rain but I've just got to the resto un l'Enversin and will start with a cafe.

3: stop for some bread+cheese. Finish the last of the la Berade bread. It didn't rain. Walk up the valley nearly on traverse through lovely woods often beech a la Ashridge.


Towards the end (and its about 2:30 going through, so it does start to feel a bit endless woods most beautiful), lose my way a bit and follow logging road not track but this turns out to be fortunate as it is easier and ends in a better place. 5:30: to start of track up to Sept Laux. 2h to first lac says the sign lets hope for less. Have more b+c and some dates which are getting quite squishy.

Looking up, after a bit. Half way up: unimpressed bouquetin. 7:30: to first little (nameless) lake. Just before I get over that hump there are views back down into the valley and (probably) the village of Le Rivier D'Allemont.


Then up a bit and around lac de la Sagne because the bank provides some shelter from the wind. There's some lying snow yum. A couple of other groups tenting. There's some kind of conrete wall (hydroelectric stuff) which I consider briefly, but reject. 8:10 tarp up and me in bag. Hopefully I'll warm up a bit. Wx: in cloud. Due to slope I'm forced to be slightly head down so put boots under head. Sleepy so don't read.

Wed 30th: [GPS, pix]: well I survived and quite well. Toes a bit cold and s'bag got a bit wet that end since touches tarp. I thought of putting bin liner over and should have but was too tired to bother. In night sky clears bright moon; up for wee; pix of moonlit lac.


Lie in till 8:30 hoping for sun but no so up. There's ice on my tarp! So I know I'm good down to 0 oC and medium wind. Was in thermal leggings, tracksters, one pair socks, yellow top, down, and raincoat the latter because I forgot to take it off. Vue interieur.


Off 8:50 ref 10:30. As I go up ground gets to cts snow, quite hard frozen. I'm feeling slow perhaps lack of b'fast perhaps I worked harder y'day eve than I realised. Looking to Lac Jeplan:


Get a cafe though formally she is ferme pour menage. Sit out: wx is now clear, but haze. Spread out tarp and s'bag and socks to dry. View across lake to snowy mtns. 


Q: what next? Plan was col de la Vache 2556 and the ref was but a diversion to see it and to let the sun come out. But its 3km back to the start of the col part and perhaps more importantly I'm a bit doubtful I'll get over sans crampons / axe (pic: at lac du Cos, looking up towards the col path). The alternative is a long but hopefully pleasant diversion on the "balcon des sept laux". Thought: that means that quite a lot of what I've done this month is currently out of reach.

12:10: off down. Back in trainers: wore boots this morning for the first time in ages. A little down: an old concrete hut that's used as a rather grimy bivvi.


Pass through PraPoutel, a little skiing place, and stop for a coffee. I guess I could have stopped here, but I'm still trying to reconnect to the "high" path that I wimped out of. Paths are sometimes grassy roads.

8:10: stop and bivvy. I'm kinda in the middle of nowhere… on a traverse / balcon path. Roughly here. When I decided not to col des Vaches this morning I didn't realise quite how far round it would be. Nonetheless its ok. Not as interesting as y'day's traverse, too many ski roads. But good views across to limestone cliffs of Chartreuse. Wx: still, sky clearing, won't bother with tarp to start with.

Thurs 31st: [GPS, pix]: a still dewy night with thin overcast and bright moon. Stopping in the middle of nowhere distinguished by nothing, just because I'm out of light and legs, is odd and feels wrong.


A car comes past at 7:10 - which is a surprise, this is a small track - so up and off, 7:30. Along, up through trees, then out with views of Chartreuse, and then up. After a while, views of the Ref in the sun on its out-thrust, with snowy hills behind.


Grenoble is down in the far valley. To Ref Jean Collet at 9:30, 1941 m.


Slight ache in R side back so will aim for easy day. Sun. Still. Ref appears empty so no cafe for me but! G'ienne arrives 10, warns of heli, and there will be cafe eventually. There is. 11:15: heli. Impressive flying in that there's only about 10 feet from blade tip to hut. Also top tip: the backwash is much bigger when it takes off again. Apart from a few packages it seemed to mostly deliver a couple of young children. Now I can put my s'bag out to dry again.

Cloud fills the cirque to our height. And goes again. Mme reckons snow now to 2300 and melting a little. Its quiet up here. A few people come, perhaps have a coffee, and go. By 12, more people for lunch. Mme feeds her infants indoors so sadly no pic but: small place, wood and tin, 33 places. Traditional loo. Despite the sun it isn't warm: my hands get cold, I've still got the down on. And the snow above isn't melting. Plat salé: omlette and cold rice salad. I may be hungrier than I realised.

Impressive views from ref: its on a point so view down and across; and behind cirque up to scarp with waterfalls hiding lac Blanc. Which if I keep to my "easy day" I won't see. Meantime at home M has had to book a car to Londres due to train strikes. Hopefully it will work out.

Off 12:20 as cloud fills again and a small troupeau with clean black faces misbehaves. Looking back. Pic: hut is in cen ter; path I took traverses around spur then descends into the stony river valley to R, which would lead up to lac Blanc.


Oops! went past turning and towards lac. Realise (and that I've not turned gps on) and come back, take path down too early but meh (actually, don't do that if you have the choice; it was hard work over scree). Passarelle du Mousset, 1:20, so I only lost 20 mins. And they weren't entirely wasted. Habert du Mousset: looks to be a (state sponsored) little shepherd's hut and mini refuge, with roof space for a few to sleep. A little further on, plaque to Mr Eugene Lombard, Cure Archipretre de Goncelin.


2:25: col du Sifre 2150. Leave pac, climb knoll, wonderful views: ahead to path gently slanting up into snow (err…), back across to ref, and towards bowl of lac Blanc though lac itself is hiding. Even wider pano. 2:50: off. 3:35: col 2350. It was ok.


Snow quite deep (someone said 40 cm) but there was a well trodden path. Nice to be back on snow! Listening to small stones / ice falling off cliffs. 4: little lac du Loup. Chamois.


Eat last of dates. And of the Abondance. The once mighty foodbag now contains but a trace of bread. Off: 4:20. Lac du Crozet 4:50. Sign: ref 55 min. Wash feet and paddle but cold. Off 5. From above, the still blue lake looks contiguous with the sky and the hazy blue background; lovely.


Ref de la Pra 5:40. Two buildings one old which is the dortoirs, new with cuisine / salle.


Big terrasse. View over plain with meandering stream. Go in. Power! Plug in I'm rather low. Order "petit planche" and biere. Quiet inside but then again it is lovely out: some children playing in the stream. Pano: the valley onwards.


For dinner a planche (cheese+saucisson). Save a bit of dry bread and nice cheese for b'fast. Have a biere, then a second with citron tarte. Talk to two Germans. Off 7: once again a lone figure walking out on a darkling plain. It is quite cold once the sun has gone. Because of the mtns it is setting behind, it goes and comes again. Pra was a good refuge; would come again. As I'm walking out the shepherdess is rounding up her sheep with two dogs. View back to ref; and back over lac Claret:


Stop 7:35 at the end of lac Longet with view further on (looking back). Lovely. All is calm and still the lakes mirrors. Bivvi.


Fri 1st Sept: [GPS, pix]: up 7:20 buzzed by hoverfly. Overnight: scratch off tick inside right knee. Wx good, didn't bother with tarp. Off 7:40 after scrap of b'fast saved from yesterday's planche. O'night fine v thin o'cast another bright moon. Ground is limestone, Chinese-looking, up and down.


9:15: Ref des lacs Robert. Non-guarde 4 places. Outside view.


Looking back to the lacs Robert. The tiny Ref is just visible at the far R edge in the shadow (a little above, now I look, the shadow of a bit of ski-lift).


9:45: "top" of the ski-junk area. And so we come nearly to the end of the mountains. One last distant view back to the Ecrins through the pass.


Down we go. Lots of lakes; here's a small nameless lake above lac Achard, which was goaty. And... just pause a moment and look at it: the whole scene is gorgeous.


2: whew. To Uriage les Bains. And a lot of descending that was. Quite a lot of it was pleasant through trees on paths; some on roads; but there was just lots of descent.


And my dream of walking into G is abandoned: it might be possible but its a looong way. Cafe here (finally! So many little villages no cafe) now in bus stop awaiting bus. I considered Uber, but was dubious of it in France, and also I'm cheap. Cats hug the shade.

2:38: off on bus (thnx Google). A/C! And €2 to St M d'Heres. Note: buses are much less frequent during vacances scholaires. Uni, 3; walk through uni to river to G, 3:50 cafe. Look up hotel / travel as well as I can with junk internet and… hmm, why not go to Valence?


And so to station, €20 (I was expecting less?), cafe and p-au-c in cafe, and 5:15: we're off. Crowded. Power: down to 23% phone and 11% battery. In mtns, spent some time optimising this. So would be v good to have other options.

Valence 18:30. End up in hotel de Lyon (les Negotiants was full) cheap but ok. No a/c but the noise of someone else's). Shower. Whew: several days grease comes off, much better. Realise supermarket shuts soon so rush out, get juice, yog, cheese and peaches but no bread. Ah well. Go down to river through park as recce for tomorrow then try and fail to find cafe / resto I like… I may be in wrong district. Valence fails to impress; never mind it was an experiment based on name. Retire and eat and catch-up.


Well that's all folks for this phase of summer; my trip round the mountains is concluded. It was lovely. I must do it again before my body falls apart.

Sunday 20 August 2023

France 2023 part four: Les Deux Alpes to La Berade; around; Dibona; and to Bourg D'Oisans

The story so far: after B d' O to V; around V; and Ailefroide to Les Deux Alpes I am enjoying the comforts of a town.


Sun 20th: [pix]: Today is a rest day. My body feels in need of a break. Not in a bad way, mostly. It just feels used. My skin knows the sun, my lips yearn for shade, my feet have blisters that need to fade. But my muscles are good. Here's my little room.


Coming to L2A to fully filled superettes I'm like a visitor from the Soviet Union come to capitalism: there is so much stuff! Buy 1L clementine, some rose prunes, and a demi-bouteille rouge. Would have been blanc but I have no fridge. Sip during day, having pen-knived with difficulty past the cork, because I have accidentally bought a decent bottle.

Wander town looking for solar powered charger and fail. I find that a lift pass to the glacier would be €30 so no.


Note re hotels: if you want one with view of Muzelle, le Meijotel is large and ugly so be past that. Here's the view from my balcon; Muzelle to the L. L2A is OK (nicer, I subsequently find, than Alpe d'Huez) for a ski resort. There are two main parallel streets and you can stroll down them past shops and restos and hotels without too much in the way of blank-faces appts and car parks.


Quiet day watching Bern climbing on YouTube. Inspiring. 4: out to recce path to tomorrow's balcon to St Christophe. Sign. And have a coffee near base of lift and watch the mtn bikers washing their bikes down. Plan: leave v early tomorrow maybe 6 to get good start on day. Set alarm for 5:30.

Russell: probs of philosophy: endores Plao's essentialism which I think Popper destroys. Or is he only using "universals"?

Skip proper dinner in favour of supermarche: juice, yoghurt (half finish so some for b'fast), avocados (disappointingly hard; persevere). Pack, mostly. Pay off 3.06 tourist tax, which irritatingly doesn't handle. Of Hotel Sherpa: fine, but the music is too loud. Fortunately it doesn't go on too late.

Mon 21st: [pix, GPS]: up just before alarm, 5:30. Seems very black outside. Juice, yoghurt, plum, teeth, loo. 5:45: can just see black of hills against sky. Off 6, off road 6:15, cool still; a few birds; enough light. Farewell L2A. Note: there's a path "straight down" to Venosc, should you be heading that way.


7:30: some delicate sections I took slowly.


Sun rising on Muzelle. Deep Veneon below.


Descended to 1640. 8:40: down to the ancien route (instead of "over the hump"). 9:15: junction with new road Whew. Don't take the old road, that was an error of judgement, it is nearly impassable with rockfall and tree growth.

9:45 burn up road to St C and la Cordee which is still there and still a mess (as in, full of stuff) inside. Sit out with cafe+brioche. Cat #1 #2. 10:10: off, towards Ref de la Selle, which I don't think I've ever visited. Then return for ski stick.

10:40: 1680: just below junction: cache main sac behind rock. 11:20: stop by stream / plank bridge 1850. This is a lovely valley. Bit o' bread-n-cheese. 1:20. Tired. Rest. But! I can see the Ref! Perhaps 100m above if I'm lucky. I can do that much. Pic looking upwards actually taken during descent.


1:50: ref. 2660 I think… it is off the map I started on, oops. It is as expected closed due to lack of water which is a shame as there's a big river only 300 m away… and 300 m down.


In search of shade I open d'hiver and it is v homely inside. There is even misc spare food so I have a coke and some runny hardened old cantal and leave them €10 in tronc. Notice. Off 2:20.


Having the new Ref cantilevered out is a bit poncy but does mean you can see it from far down.


3:20: 2180: down to the little ?shepherd's shelter?

River crossing: its gone up since this morning.

4:20: in trees stop by riverside wash feet and arms and enjoy rushy river. 1750 m. I have a couple of scratches. 4:50: down to where I stashed main sac. 5:10: biere. Again la Cordee, since the other place, while claiming to be, isn't, open.

I think I shall aim for la Berade tonight, largely by road. Its a good place to be, and there's a campsite. I might do Promontoire tomorrow. It means skipping Soreiller, but I could do that on way back if I have time.

The road has "montee a la berade" km signs for the cyclists but useful for me too. 6 to go. Shame I forgot to turn Strava back on.


8ish: get to laB, or at least the camping. It was a bit of a route march at the end though greatly enlivened by the scenery. Shower, so more human, but have missed reception. Walk through, to village, to le Fourney for… linguini. And a very drinkable ¼ pichet of blanc. And a crepe marron and cafe. After which I will return to camping and find myself a spot to vacate early.

Hotel des Glaciers: looks shut but is inhabited, just as a house I guess.

And so to bed 10:10, in a plot near the "top" toilet block.

Tues 22nd: [pix]: another canicule day in prospect. I seem to have over-walked my feet so will rest. Up early, pack into sac and leave it there - I'll return later to reception. LaB doesn't seem to be an early rising village: auberge de la Meije will do me a coffee after 8, all else looks closed. So I end up there. Various appear to be prepping for sport climbing. There's a bus leaving for Bourg d'O and Grenoble at 8:50.

Looking at the map now the infamous Aiguille du Plat de la Selle was the nearest-valley-mouth peak to my south yesterday in the vallon du Selle. 9:40: sunlight has finally reached the chapel while I wasn't watching. So it may be time to rise from my coffee sleep reading Russell.

I've realised I have an "extra" week, in that I need to be in Avignon on Sat 2nd. I think I plan to base self here for a bit, have just booked 3 nights inc yesterday, may extend. Day trip up to Soreiller? Path up from les Etages is 3k down the road and 3h up. Perhaps stay o'night. But today rest.

Put up tarp just for looks. All v quiet here. Wash orange+red socks, or rather soap them up and leave to soak.


Finish: Russell. It doesn't get far being basics-of-philo stuff, and I don't need to care about how to define e.g. truth.

Reading: Spinoza, Ethics, as recommended by Russell; but I've cut that to over here.

A loong lunch at le Fourney (where the above was written) of salad (too much cubes of this n that to be really good, but quite eatable) then trois boules (myrtilles, abricot, limon) then cafe all with another ¼ pichet of the nice white. Unconsidered, some clouds have arisen though not shade; and as I write some rain! Go, wx! Though not yet enough to take in my washing.

Free will vs morality: w/o FW its hard to talk about M. But I think this is only apparent: like the way in evolution one tends to talk of things wanting to evolve.

Epicerie has nice nectarines: its now 5, get two for rest of day, four yogs, and a bit of Tomme (her thin cheese selection has been bulked out since this am). It is, btw, a very small epicerie with a v small cafe.

Pop blisters on feet at front just under where toes bend. Will that help? Aim for Temple Ecrins tomorrow, an easy one in the Pilatte direction. Experiment with different sockings and boots. Best U think is trainers and two socks.

I feel I'm getting into this holiday now. LaB is a better place for a rest that L2A: less comforts of civ but much better views. And more… peace? Here's my tarp.


Wed 23rd: [GPS, pix]: up 6:50 off 7:15 before the sun. The aim is a "short" hike up (only +700 m) to Temple Ecrins - I've never been there - to be kind to feet.


8:20: Carrelet, which appears to be open, and has a cat. 9:30: Temple Ecrins 2410 m. Fairly steep just after Carrelet when you turn up but a well made path.


10:10: first sun here. Feet: L is fine, R is not "fine" but is tolerable. I shall be sensible and not head up any higher despite temptation… somewhat to my surprise we are "just behind" the Barre and there's a path heading that way. It wouldn't be possible to get to the top of course. There are chickens here. There's a book of the major renovations 2017-8, which must have been when we were at Pilatte. 11:30: I still seem to be sitting in the sun reading and basking in the landscape. Chickens. Nice sun terrasse good views: Pilatte / les Bans, Gioberney, pointe du Vallon des Etages; and behind up towards Barre. Inspiring! (Pilatte itself is just visible in the centre here).


12:30: gateau au noix. Nice. Had a shock: phone is a blank black glass slab! Frantically push buttons and it turns on and I realise it has overheated. It recovers, of course. Mme and friends have finished lunch, and the friends… shoulder their picks. Ah, they are pathmenders.

Finish: the Secret of Chimneys: tosh by Christy, but fun. 1:10: off down. 2: Carrelet.


Easy desc and not even too overheated despite sun. Sit inside and stare out of window; its hot.


They have a via-ferrata and bouldering leaflet for Ecrins. The laB boulders are just by the car park? Off 2:45 post biere. View back upvalley just down from Carrelet.


And a view to La Berade, just before getting there.


Down 3:45. Cafe: sheltered by plane trees, l'Escalade: cafe, then trois boules: myrtille, mangue, framboise. Epicerie: bread, two oranges, little cheese. €7, doesn't blink when I offer a fifty. Sign: list of Refuges. My bivvi is still there.


8:30: think to visit boulders, guess where, pass mat-carrier so can'y be far wrong. Find rocks, with red triangles and some arrows and some bolts. See GPS. Not terribly convincing though. But, getting dark so return.

9: looking upvalley, lightning.

Thurs 24th: [GPS, pix]: 6:45 off for Promontoire (+1500 m; "Glorious views hard work" as my Strava comment put it). Confusion re which path is blocked by degats d'orage lets hope. Chatelleret: ferme, as expected. 9:05. Not just a quick hour up the valley as I'd somehow thought.


B'fast. Around the side, evidence of the Great Storm: fresh debris, pipies swept away, a generator upset. Although not obviously enough to shut the ref. 10: first sun. 2450. Remains of glacier. Start up moraine. 11: 2900. 150 m to go. Whew. Pic: this is actually below Chatelleret (you can see it) but also shows Promontoire and the way up.


Not really seeing any signs of the path being washed out so unsure why so many panicky seeming signs warning of problems. Anyway, up to the Ref, it is impressively situated.


11:30: ref. Last part a little tricky and I kept losing the cairns. Ref is small and somewhat as I remember it. Only other person is guardienne. Now I think of it all the refs are ienne. Views magnificent downvalley and (craning neck) up to Meije; and sideways, to Breche de la Meije. Sit out in naughty full sun with biere for a bit then come in. Routes pic. Pasta. Map: before the glaciers melted.


1:15: off.


3:15: Chatelleret. Took a while to get off the tricky mank at the top then moraine is ok then across the new scar. Got a bit tired / careless and nearly broke a skistick on mank. Wash feet at lovely "beach" but too cold for swim. Pass pair mtn folk as I'm leaving and a couple of randos on the path. And then two at Chatelleret are walking up. Eat orange. Looking down; further down, looking up the side valley Bonne Pierre to the L, you see towards the Barre. Closer, looking down on LaB.


Tonight is my last night here. Its been good; I ponder extending but no, let's move on. Tomorrow Dibona I think. Today Epicerie again refreshed so get nectarine+orange bread tomme yoghurt alonge croissant. Sit drink cafe have two yogs and the croissant: an eccentric tea but refreshing. Salve conscience with la Lavey valley perhaps? We'll see. Wx: some cloud but still v sun. To l'Escalade for trous boules again which I've been looking forward to.

Pay off campsite: €34 for four nights. A decent site: space; warm showers; recharge points. And, beautiful.

Local thunder. Transition tent to "might rain" mode: put second stick at tail to make foot room but it stays dry.

Fri 25th: [GPS (+1100 m to Ref Soreiller), pix]: up 6:30. Off 7:15. Heading down valley it feels like the beginning of the end. Les Etages 7:50: very little here but parking, water, loo (top of scattered houses) and path up. Note: there are two paths up to Dibona, the "upper" one from here, and a "lower" one from lower down, around the Ruisseau D'Amont; but the "upper" one is recommended. Pic: looking back to Les Etages from higher up. 9:50: first sun: 2430 m. Pic: light streaming in earlier.


I've been able to see Dibona and the refuge for some time. 300 m to go. 10:30: ref. Whew. In the sun but not for too long and while it was work it wasn't too slow. I do wonder how many more of these I have in me this holiday.


Ref is not CAF so my reciprocal rights don't work ah well. Books. Routes.

Lie out on rocks looking up watching and listening to about three parties up above. Vidz. Pix.


Feet: are improving. Only R is any issue. Yesterday "pain" changed to "sensation" and I returned to the monosock theory. Today still not quite back to good, but ok.

1:40: lunch. A bit of gateau au chocolat and a ¼  pichet blanc. The secret of climbing is sitting around all afternoon doing nothing. Feeling slightly squiffy post-wine but will aim for a little walk later.


Reading: Grant. Anecdote: his cmdr, Taylor, didn't like to wear uniform. A navy visitor, so he does. But navy guy doesn't, knowing Taylor's habits. Embarrassment both sides.

5: evening stroll looking for route up. Find it (green dot) but Strava finds it [GPS]. Passed by two pairs descending rather late. Get to 2900 and wisely stop. Then go view the Aiguille du Plat de la Selle (M and I descended that face, over two days, in the 90's, via the slightly-R-of-center couloir I think, because we (I) failed to find the move Rwards after ~100 m of descent).


There's a kind of stony shoulder, over which the "lower" (worse) path to the Ref comes. Dibona looks quite different from the sideViews down to Ref.

On return hear voices from above making climbing calls still on Dibona. Hmm. 6:30: back. (Cold) shower and retreat upstairs to admire view down Vallon des Etages from bed. Wx: clouding somewhat. Le meteo threatens orages tomorrow pm. After dinner M. approaches and confirms the meteo but for ~10. Hmmm. Also the bill: 43: because not CAF. May need to "rush" down tomorrow. Reading: vols 1-3 of 4 of La Lune Noire.

Views opposite into cirque and Pointe du Vallon des Etages.


Its pretty quiet in the ref. I'm the only furriner, and indeed the only not-one-of-the-family, until two turn up late. So I sit in silence. This is fine by me and I think by them.

To bed quite a bit of thun+lit, and even rain.

Sat 26th: [GPS to Lavey; to St Christophe, pix]: somewhat restless night: I'm a little too hot until I think to take off thermal top. Also noise downstairs continues a little after ten then the two bods come into my dortoir. Wx: clair. I don't believe 10 am storms so shall not hurry. Today's objective is la Lavey. There's no signal here for me, but hints there might almost be. B'fast is thin: coffee and black bread+butter+jam. Well, also those inedible "toast" things. 7:05: light on the tops opposite. Hut plaque.


7:50: off. All v nice views back to Aiguille and so down. Last night's rain has wetted and thus improved the trail. After 600 m enter the "gorge" section which is lovely in descent.


Cloud is forming somewhat: Dibona now in shadow. 10: down. Beehives. Cloud now 100% v thin rain. Cross river and head down valley towards la Lavey. I've seen one person on the paths today. 11:30: the promised morning rain has arrived properly. Coat on.

11:45: la Lavey turn off. And the Old Bridge.


1:10: la Lavey. Whew: through torrential rain and special effects from thunder and lightning, for about half an hour. I got out the umbrella which helped. Shorts still soaked but the overall theory worked: top stays dry from coat, all else looks after itself. The paths were rivers and lakes but fine; my shoes are soaked I just wade through. Still I was pretty glad to see the refuge. Its lunchtime; everyone is a table and weirdly no-one in a hurry to leave. Back view.


2:30: warmer and perhaps slowly drying. Not sure what I will do; probably stay here if poss otherwise drop down… to StC? This is like the time M+I were here in the week of permanent rain. 3:30: much quieter. Someone approaches and it turns out that the ref is booked out for a private party tonight; hey ho. Still I can get a coffee at least. With my new found (did I mention it?) idea of seeing the Belledonne this might fit ok.

If I need it, there's an evening navette from LaB to BdO, passing StC at 18:15. 

Off about 4, 6:45: to StC. Well I didn't really want the navette anyway. I could have got here faster by road but chose the "woods path" instead as I'd wanted to do it on the way in. The path-streams have dried up remarkably quickly. Its lovely, see pix on Strava, but quite long because it undulates far more than the road. Views across valley to StC. At one point could have gone to Alpe du Pin but… no, I wanted to go through the woods and to StC. All the rivers are running high and brown rather than the usual clair.


At le Relais des Ecrins. First a biere and then a room although said they didn't have any; that happened in Vallouise too.

Sun 27th: [GPS, pix]: in the night my green glowing plug that is charging my phone goes out. Odd. And when I get up… the lights are out. Oops. Also its pouring with rain. Hmmm. B'fast at 8: Mme has made some coffee and there's bread and a pastry but its kinda like up in the mountains. Meteo: rain declining after 10. My biere glass of yesterday has filled up with rain.


9:30: rain heavier but the thick cloud has cleared the hillside opposite so the mighty waterfalls can be seen so I have some hope that another hour will see the rain ease.

Reading Grant (and before, Sherman) it is striking how they marched and slept and fought in appalling conditions whilst I skulk in my hotel room awaiting the end of the rain.

Pay 11. Vacillate between road and forest. Sit in church to think. Rain slight. Have realised that I can solve the "wet shorts" problem by wearing running shorts.


1: Plan du Lac. I did go via forest but it was a little nerve wracking. PdL too have no elec but they have an EDF (actually ENEDIS) crew rigging an emergency generator to the lines. I'm here not on the other side because the other side is impassable - just - because the Cascade de la Pisse side stream has overflowed the bridge on the far side. I could force my way through at the cost of very wet feet but it seems unwise. I'd had to detour quite a bit through trees to get that far because the path was flooded. See pic / vid. Speak to their guy: a pylon is in the river. And as we speak the lights come on. 


1:15: off, on road. But, it is new road to my feet: when I came up I was on the ancien route above. See broken pylon on far side. River which was before meandering with many gravel islets is now one big stream. Faint sun. Views down to Venosc.


4: 6k from BdO on a cycling type track. Through Bourg d'Arud w/o cafe because I skipped the obvs one by the bridge and then the one in the village was the Chateau de la Muzelle which (while quite nice in itself) wasn't right for me. Nearly back to les Gauchoirs:


Nearly at BdO, on the last "plain", the path is iffy in the rain. M. le Velocipedist did not proceed. But I push through.


5:10: to BdO (which amusingly styles itself BO) and sinces des Alpes is full (I think) try out the Oberland which is fractionally cheaper then Milan including b'fast, though it is a little out of town. Room is tiny but well formed; shower. Then since I don't like their menu, to large Casino for the delights of capitalism. Back, coffee to relax. Outside, wx is cloud, and sorta threatening rain, indeed it was over the last 5 k but only did a little. Monday is currently looking very rainy. Hmmm.

Stuff self with food (juice; yoghurt; bread+st marcellin; greengages) so much for self control though I have had nothing today since b'fast and that was thin due to power out.

So much for part four. Part five moves on to the Belledonne.