Walks and hikes in Europe and California, posted sporadically as they happen… or as I reflect on them…

Monday, June 24, 2013

Alps, 2013, 4: Chalet de Bise to La Chapelle d'Abondance

The Chalet de Bise, early morning

June 22, 2013: We were up about 5:45; the skies overcast — it had rained a bit, though I hadn't noticed; I'd slept well, only noting once someone had got up during the night. Daniel gave us some instant coffee  and a pan of hot water, then quickly finished his breakfast and was away by 6:15, after suggesting he'd see us tonight, and suddenly popping back in to take my photo, of all things. A very nice guy. (Yesterday he'd said he'd be in Nice in twenty days. I'm not so sure. But he's an experienced randonneur, preferring the Pyrenees.)

Breakfast: apricot, walnut, sausage from our packs, and Daniel's coffee. I wasn't hungry, but eating brings appetite. We washed up as best we could at the trough and hit the trail about 8:00. The climb was hard, because the trail was frequently covered by snow, more often by dirt, rocks, and vegetation the snow had brought down over it. 

Still we made the Pas de la Bosse in ninety minutes, fairly good time, and rested there ten minutes. The descent on the otherside was easier — no snow, though mud, and occasional patches of debris. 

In an hour or so we came to a "chalet," a stone building formerly used by shepherds, recently re-roofed for more modern use. A man drove up on a jeep apparently to check the temporary electric fencing, the condition of the grass, etc. — the cows will soon be moving up here. The slopes are full of flowers, ranunculus, buttercups, gentians, those tiny blue ones. Many butterflies, too. 

Then the trail plunged into forest, still descending precipitously. (We were dropping from 1816 to 1021 meters.) Lots of birdsong. At one point a pond under trees, those beautiful Abondance cows cooling off, their bells overwhelming the birdsong. 

Then we crossed the paved road to La Chapelle to take the nature trail down along the ruisseau de Séchen, gurgling gently and providing new kinds of flowers for us. Before long we were in town,where we took a room demi-pension in a nice family old-style hotel, le Vieux Moulin. It will be very nice after last night's primitive accommodations. 

Tonight I hope to get information on the snow conditions. We may have to bail on the northern half of this walk, and go somehow to Modane. I'll let you know…