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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Alps, 2013, 15: Maljasset to Fouillouse

For a number of days we have lacked internet access. I will post here the notes of the last few days. Photos alas will have to wait until I have more tome and a real computer, but those who follow me on Facebook may find some there.

July 8, 2013: 
We found breakfast gathering itself a little before seven. Of our dortoir we were the first up; then the two Germans; the two Lyonnaises didn't appear until we were finishing breakfast. 

It looked like rain, so I covered my pack and for the first time broke out my windbreaker/jacket, and we were en route by 8, walking down D25 toward St. Paul-sur-Ubaye.  The morning continued overcast for a long time, even drizzling from time to time.

The only unusual thing that happened was our meeting a huge flock of sheep coming our way. At the head, two stalwart paisanos with staffs (not trekking poles) and, between them, one milk cow, wearing her bell. A black dog had preceded them. Then came the flock, a couple of hundred sheep I would say, some marked M, others F – I have no idea why. At the back of the flock there was a truck towing a trailer full of young lambs. It was driven by a good-looking well-dressed woman, I asked her where they were coming from: Forqualquier, in Provence. 

We turned off the paved road for a while to cut through flowered meadow between the road and the Chátelet torrent, but after the previous night's rainfall everything was quite wet; my boots and trouser-legs were soon soaked.

In a little over an hour we'd reached the road leasdng up to Fouillouse. This was new to me: five years ago Mac and Henry and I had walked on down to St. Paul in the mistaken thought we had a reservation there, and had finallly had to commandeer an obliging fellow to drive us up to Fouillouse. Finally today I learned what the GR5 does here. 

What it does, is climb, steeply, first up the asphalt road to the magnificent pont du Châtelet (a stone bridge 300 feet above the river), then up stony forest path, nearly 300 meters, often breath-to-a-step steep; and then finally descend on gravel and dirt path to Fouillouse. You really begin to feel you're in Provence, as technically you are. Poppies, roses, thyme, geraniums, low juniper, pinea. 

Now here we are. In a comfortable gîte in our own room, not a dortoir, with a BATHTUB, our first. We arrived at 11:30, first dampened by light rain, then dried out by sun, then soaked in sweat — me at least; don't know about Stefan. It was not much of a hike, I guess, but a little strenuous at the end. We cleaned up and washed some clothes, and then had lunch: charcuterie, omelette, salad. Again, we have neither telephone nor Internet: I write up these notes, read a little, and take a nap.

Dinner with a guy we met in Ceillac: German, on a bicycle tour holiday, Manfred, from Bönen, near Dortmund. Very interesting and nice. Systems analyst, I think. Interested in the fortifications hereabouts: French, Italians proud of them, make tourist attractions of them, unlike the Germans, who lost nearly all theirs, and choose not to dwell on it. Has been within a few km of many peaks, which completely satisfies him. Totally satisfied with life except when he thinks of political situation, and daughter's situation. I say: it's their problem; their world; they will find a way. He agrees.