Sunday, September 23, 2007

Geissflue and Wasserflue

This walk is partially taken from Wandern mit den U-Abo; we extended it a bit at the end.

After starting in Zeglingen (535m) we went up to the Geissflue (963m) by way of Flueberg and Schaffmatt. The supposedly great views from the Geissflue weren't there today; it was way too hazy to see either the Vogesen or the Alps. The Schwarzwald was barely discernible.

From Geissflue we walked down to Salhöhe (772m), where we stopped for lunch before continuing on to Wasserflue (844m). Again, the very nice views one could enjoy from here just weren't there today.

We finished by walking down to Aarau (382m) by way of Hinterfeld, Hardmännliloch, and Hungerberg.

Not counting lunch we walked for about five hours.

It was very amusing to be walking in a highly populated area again. Sooooo many people on the paths! :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Memo to ourselves: life of a gas bottle

The 400g gas cylinder we just finished (CADAC, butane/isobutane/propane) lasted through 8 camping nights in the Pyrenees + 2 camping nights in Wallis. So a total of about 10 nights camping (dinner + breakfast) for us.

You could still hear some liquid sloshing around when shaking the "dead" bottle, but it no longer reliably produced a flame that last night. The cooking times had also been getting longer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pyrenees Trip Info: Pack loads

What we carried:
  • toiletries
  • toilet paper+matches+the "poop shovel"
  • 2x pack towels (probably only needed one)
  • 2x sunglasses
  • 2x guide books (TiP and Zu Fuss)
  • a few photocopies of hike descript
  • maps
  • deck of cards
  • notepad + pen
  • personal documents
  • compass
  • watch
  • cell phone (SWITCHED OFF!)
  • first aid kit
  • camera and accessories
  • tent, tarp, poncho
  • 2x sleeping bags
  • 2x sleeping bag pads
  • 2x hiking poles
  • Kitchen stuff:
    • jetboil system
    • jetboil group cooking system pot
    • 400g gas bottle
    • 2x bowls
    • 2x sporks
    • folding knife
    • leatherman
    • small cutting board
    • 2x 1l Nalgene
    • 2x .5l sports bottles
    • 2x 2l water bag
    • 1l water bag
    • biodegradable dish soap
    • 3x small dish rags (only needed 2)
  • water filter
  • 2x head lamps (probably only needed 1)
  • candle lantern
  • clothesline
  • Andrea's clothes
    • 3x underwear
    • 2x bra
    • 3x hiking socks
    • hiking pants
    • city pants
    • 2x t-shirt
    • long-sleeved shirt
    • fleece
    • rain coat
    • stocking cap
    • sun hat
    • gloves
    • tevas
    • hiking boots
    • long underwear
    • "swimsuit" (bikini pants and top)
  • Greg's clothes
    • 3x hiking underwear
    • 3x hiking socks (went down to 2x on day 14 when Greg lost a sock)
    • t-shirt
    • short-sleeved shirt
    • long-sleeved shirt
    • swimsuit
    • long underwear
    • sunhat
    • stocking cap
    • fleece
    • raincoat
    • hiking pants
    • city pants
    • city socks
    • city underwear
    • hiking boots
    • tevas
    • knee brace
  • Food: varied, but we usually left towns with 4 days worth of meals.
We both ended up carrying packs that weighed in at 20-25% of our body weights, which is heavy but not too bad. Luckily there was enough water in the area that we rarely needed to carry more than 2-3 liters (for both of us). Not having to carry 3-4 liters each really helped with the pack weights. Still, there were a couple of times when we cut it closer than I'd like to.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Pyrenees Day 17: Lac d'Espingo -> Luchon

This is the end.

The day starts cool. After a late breakfast we set out at 9:15 and stop at the Refuge to pick up a picnic lunch (what crap! two slices of bread, ~100g of cheese (the butt!), a 30g package of pate, a bag of chips, a shriveled apple, a teeny crappy granola bar, and a bad packaged breakfast pastry. For 7 Euros... what crap!) and then head to the GR10. The initial climbing is in cool shade, there aren't too many people out, the views are nice.

After the first col (Hourquette des Hounts-Secs, 2275m) we're mostly in the sun and thing start to get warmer, but it is still breezy so we're comfortable. As we approach the second col (curiously nameless) the density of people goes way up. We crest the col (2272m, 12:30) into a group of 20 French, all speaking at the same time. Immediate retreat up the slope of the Sommet de la Coume de Bourg in order to have a quiet lunch. We've got great views East and West. This is, by far, our best overview of the Pyrenees yet. In addition to a bunch of vultures, we see something we're pretty sure is a golden eagle. That's very cool.

After having lunch we set out for the final leg of the trip (sniff...) at 1:15. We grab some water at a teeny spring (TiP++) and then continue on a path that's very nice to walk along but a bit too concentration demanding for serious walk-and-gawk. We gawk a lot anyway.

The non-hiker density increases with proximity to Superbagneres, which is gag-inducingly ugly. We sadly reach the end and take the gondola down to Luchon at 3:00.

We arrive in Luchon in the middle of some chaotic children's flower festival and parade. Wow is it noisy! Wow is it crowded! Gack! We find the planned hotel (Hotel Panoramic), check in, shower, do some laundry (in a machine! not the sink!), have ice cream, buy train tickets to Toulouse for Monday, rest, and then have dinner.

Civilization is loud, stinky, and hectic... we need to go back into the mountains!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pyrenees Day 16: Refuge du Portillon -> Lac d'Espingo + Lac d'Oo

We start the day by being the latest at breakfast, 7:30; things start early at this refuge! Most everyone else has gotten an early start for mountain climbing and/or a long HRP stage. We leave by 8:30 for the easy descent down to Espingo.

The way down is a pretty and very well laid out path. We take our sweet time and stretch the 1.5 hour walk so that it takes three hours to reach the Refuge d'Espingo (1967m, 11:30). We scout around the lakes for a while to find a good tent spot and finally find one on the Lac d'Espingo that looks clean and has a good view. It's also flat and out of the way. quite nice!

After pitching the tent, having lunch, and doing some laundry in the river we leave at 1:15 to walk down to Lac d'Oo. It's funny as hell to walk without packs on. On the way down, we pass some nice waterfalls and hordes of people sweating their way up the path.
We reach the refuge on the lake (1504m), have a cool beverage, and admire the big waterfall. We continue to be amused and surprised by the people in "civilian" clothes. Oh well, hope we don't smell too bad.

After a while we head back up to Espingo. We work hard at not running back up the hill (it's soooo easy without the packs on!). Along the way we pass many of the same people that we saw on our way down, only now they're coming down as we're going up. They haven't spent very much time up at Espingo... I guess they walked uphill for 3+ hours to spend less than an hour at their destination. "Der Weg ist das Ziel" and all that, but that's a bit much for me.

Along the stretch Lac d'Oo->the GR10 turnoff we finally manage to almost reproduce a walking time from TiP. Almost. Without packs. He must really run.

We get back to Espingo at around 4:00, have another cool beverage and watch as some shepherds gather the hundreds of sheep that have been scattered around the area and then drive them back down the path we just walked up. Good thing we're not on that path anymore!

Back at camp we have the soup course and a little rest in the sun. To our horror a group of eight people (three kids) shows up and makes camp within sight of us. We shudder and anticipate noise and chaos. After our nice rest we have a "use up as much as possible" dinner and then go for a walk along a random path near our side of the lake. This path leads us to the secret waterfall of Espingo! It's not super high (maybe 50m or so), but it has nice water volume and drops into a perfect looking pool. Too bad there's no apparent way to get down to that pool (cliffs all around). It's a very enticing pool.

We finish the day by enjoying the last sun colors on the valley walls and cursing the damn kids who are, of course, making loads of noise. Yes, we're old and fusty!

To be fair, the kids were put to bed at 9:00 and didn't make any noise after that.

We get up at 1:00 to do some stargazing. It's excellent.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pyrenees Day 15: Lago de Gias -> Refuge du Portillon

This was a day of stops and starts as the adventure of Lago de Gias continued...

The morning is clear, cold, and a lot less windy than the night (but still damn gusty). We set out at in long underwear and coats at 9:00. The idea is to take the "easy" route, ascend the Portal d'Oo, and descend to meet the HRP. For our first attempt we follow some stonemen over the boulders to the right central bit of the wall then climb. We scramble to the valley rim (2900m) pretty quickly (10:30) and look over the edge to find a ~100m sheer cliff on the other side. oops. The view is nice, but that's not an "easy" descent. There's also a nice plaque memorializing someone who died up here, but Greg chooses to believe that they died climbing one of the nearby peaks. We look around for a bit and see a possible route down the left side of the porte. Unfortunately, we have to descend 100m or so to get there. No problem, we scramble down.

Along the way we lose our nerve with the whole adventure thing a bit, change our minds, and decide that it's more sensible to just go back down to Estos and to re-enter France via Benasque. Decision made, Greg commences to change out of his long underwear. Pretty much immediately a couple of Spanish guys appear. Andrea talks to them a bit and they tell us that the actual Puerto is the left side of the wall and that it's easy to get over. Ok... no problem, we'll do it. Off to the left side.

We scramble up the 100m, behind the two Spanish guys, and reach a lovely col with a clear, steep path down through the scree and boulders. From here we can see the central path and it's clear that it never would have worked without climbing gear and skills we don't have. There's also a little nook with a wall of stones that clearly at least one person has used as a bivvy. Holy crap, a bivvy in a windy col at 2900m. They must have been highly motivated to get up the mountain the next morning or very tired when coming down one night.

We head down the steep path, reach the bowl bottom (~2800m, 12:05), and have a short rest. Greg finally changes out of his long underwear (whew!). After the break we follow a fantasy of a path over rocks (rocks of many colors!) and over and around boulders (of many colors!), ...

...across the bowl, past some lakes, past the sad remains of a glacier, and up the other side to a col looking down on the Lac du Portillon. It's a beautiful lake in a great setting.

We follow some stonemen down a bit until we find a good lunch spot with a view (1:15). After lunch we follow contradictory stonemen as we walk across rocks and over and around boulders in a series of stops and starts and stops and starts. It's another one of those stoneman civil wars, this time with many factions and no clear leader. Eventually we find our way down the Refuge du Portillon (2570m, 3:30). Getting here from above is like solving a puzzle (the answer to which seems to be: "don't turn towards the Refuge...").

We thought about continuing the 1.5-2 hours down to Espingo but at least 95% of the day's walking was either uphill or downhill on loose stones, scree, or over and around boulders, and our joints are tired. Our enthusiasm for camping is very, very limited so we cross our fingers that there won't be any snorers and opt to stay in the Refuge.

Later we see the two HRP hikers we originally met back at Barroude and talk to them for a while. They're also a bit bemused about the stoneman chaos about the Refuge; we have a good laugh about that.

Random notes:
  1. The electricity in the hut is out and has apparently been so all season. The hut keeper seems to be resigned to this.
  2. The food is really good.
  3. There are less than 20 people staying this night, but the hut keeper says that he has reservations for around 100 people for the following night (Saturday, good weather forecast). I hope someone is going to come help him... dealing with that mob alone (without electricity!) doesn't seem particularly fun.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pyrenees Day 14: Camping Forcallo -> Lago de Gias

Today did not end up as originally planned... The plan was to continue past Refugio de Estos for an hour or so in order to get a head start on Friday's crossing back into France. What happened was some adventure.

We get up after a quiet night and set out at 8:40 for the Refugio de Estos. We start with a bit of climb up to the Refugio de Biados (or Viados, depending on which sign/map you are looking at), 1740m, which is very pretty and also has excellent views of Posets. We continue through a hay-making area (lots of grass, no animals), walk down a little bit an then start the climb to the Puerto de Chistau (2577m). The climb is steep, but we are back in our normal slow pace so it's not bad. Approaching the top we pass a group walking down where one of the hikers is wearing flip flops. Flip flops? With a backpack? On a rough trail? That's stupid! Oh, wait, he's got his boots attached to his backpack and has big patches of adhesive tape covering his heels. Ouchie. We have lunch at the top in cold wind (there's just nowhere to hide from it). Still, we enjoy our first views of the Maladeta massif.

We leave at 1:45 and begin the long, long descent. After crossing through many herds of cows we reach the valley bottom (~1800m) and then head up a bit to arrive at the Refugio de Estos (1890m, 3:30). We have some cold beverages and Andrea asks for advice about the next day's crossing to Portillon. The hut keeper doesn't know much about that pass, but he says that the crossing above Estos, the Portal d'Oo, is easier and that we should go that way. There are two lakes below the Portal (at about 2600m) and we like high lakes, so this sounds good. We assess the state of our legs and descide that we can probably handle the additional 700-800m up. If not we will be walking up beside a stream, so we can always just camp beside the stream. Yeah... that's the theory.

After a ham sandwich (for strength!) we set out at 4:30 to do the climb to adventure. There's no official path, and the way is rough, but it's clearly marked with stonemen. After 100-200m up the stream goes away. Ah well, there are no flat areas here anyway and the lakes will be good water sources. We're both still feeling fit, so "weiter geht's!". At around 6:15 we reach the area of the first of the lakes! There's nice camping around it! Greg runs off to find the lake and discovers that it's dry. Crap! Greg is not happy. Andrea is calm because she knows that we haven't gone up enough to be at the lakes yet. After the crestfallen Greg returns, Andrea imparts this information to him. This partially restores his spirits and we continue up.

Greg starts remembering all the dried out streams and lakes we've seen and is feeling pessimistic. Andrea leads on and we climb higher to the first of the lakes. It's dry. WTF? These are not indicated on the map as being seasonal. Shitty map. Shitty lake. We actually have a discussion of how bad it would be to spend the night with the 750ml of water we have left (it's getting awfully late to be heading back down the path we came up... it would not be good in the dark). Dry bread, salty ham, salty cheese, a sludge of ovalmaltine and powdered milk, and so on. It sounds awful, but it won't be life threatening.

Just to be sure, we leave our packs and scramble up the rocks the next 50m to the bigger lake. IT HAS WATER! YAY! WATER! It also has wind... hoo boy does it have wind! We investigate a few of the rock circles people have previously camped (or bivvy'ed) in. The best of these is already occupied, but we decide we can probably make it in one of the others (it's a good tent!). We head back to get the packs and think about how we might use the tent as a two-person bivvy sack. That's not happy thinking, but it's better to plan ahead.

We retrieve the packs, climb back up, scout some more, get some water (oooo, water), identify the best candidate site, and assemble the tent. Miraculously there's enough room in the stone circle and the stakes can all be driven in appropriate places. The tent is up and looks solid, but holy crap is it windy.
The site is beautiful, but there's a bit too much to do to really appreciate it.

Greg builds a quasi-sheltered mini-kitchen corner with some more rocks and patching of the existing wall and makes dinner as quickly as possible while Andrea sets up the inside of the tent and secures the packs.
We eat in the tent (big fun in the small tent) and then make everything as secure and stable as possible for the night. It's now dark and the wind is blowing like hell. Hopefully we won't have to test the bivvy sack theory, but the tent is good... we believe in it...

It's very, very windy all night and it gets quite cold. The tent does great and doesn't have any problems. It does punish Greg all night as it flexes in the wind, but that's a relatively minor price to pay.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pyrenees Day 13: Parzan -> Camping Forcallo

Well, they can't all be great days.

After a reasonable breakfast at the hotel (they toasted the stale baguette instead of serving it "raw" and had some parrano ham available as well), we are out by 8:30. We walk up the road to the GR11 and then start climbing for real along a dirt and gravel road. The whole morning is on the road, which isn't particularly nice. For the first hour we go super fast (well, super fast for us... we're basically reproducing the times in TiP, which we have never done) and make about 600m. We're racing to get as much of the day's climbing done as possible before the sun hits us. When the sun does make an appearance we quickly discover that running uphill with freshly filled and stocked packs is a bad idea (of course we knew this already, but we had temporarily forgotten). We have a long rest above the dam and hydroplant at Urdizeto (1940m). It's good to have gotten about 900m of the day's 1600m of climbing done, but we definitely went too fast.

We proceed at our normal (much slower) pace to the Paso de los Caballos (2314m, 1:00) where we have lunch. The views from the col are excellent and include our first view of the Posets massif, which we remark for being amazingly gray and featureless after all the layers and drip-castle shapes we've been seeing. We pick the correct lunch spot and don't end up sitting in the big party of Spaniards "around the corner"; that would have been loud. The two HRP hikers we met at Barroude (who had also gone to Parzan and are on their way to Viados) aren't so lucky.

The next two hours are mostly downhill on trails and include nice views of a green valley with creepy red "bleeding" spots on the walls. As we get into the valley we cross one of these; it's probably some water running through a vein of some iron oxide, but it sure does look like blood. All the streams in the valley are red, so we opt not to get any drinking water here.

We continue on for a while with pretty constant and not particularly interesting views (the only thing really visible is Posets, but that's still gray and mostly featureless) and eventually hit a road.
After another break we continue along the road, which we'll follow for the rest of the day (another two hours). It's just too long. We're tired, our packs are heavy, the sun is hot, there aren't enough breath-taking views to restore our motivation.
To be fair, we do get a brief (but nice) view down the Valle de Chistau.

Eventually we make it to the the campground (~1600m, 5:30), where we find that the building is shuttered. Crap! No beer! No showers! No beer! Crap! Luckily there's no gate or fence or "keep out" sign, so we just go in and find a nice spot with a good view of Posets (which is fascinating to look at when you get close enough), have a cup of tea, rest a bit, sponge baths, make dinner, watch sunset via the color changes on Posets (fantastic!), and then retire to the tent for the night.

We kind of expect someone to show up at some point and ask for 4 euros (or something) to use the campground, but that never happens.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pyrenees Day 12: Refuge de Barroude -> Parzan

Breakfast at the refuge isn't as bad as normal. They have a nice selfmade apple preserve with honey and some decent graubrot (Andrea: "Only because we haven't had decent bread in days!").

We set off into the cloud heading for Parzan at 8:45. We get very occasional glimpses of the lakes and the cliffs above. But we never get a really good look at the refuge or its setting. Too bad... the photo in the book is nice. :-(

After climbing to the ridge, Puerto de Barrosa (2534m) we see that Spain is still cloudless; yay! We descend to the valley floor next to the Rio Barrosa (about 1700m) with a strong cold wind from France at our backs fighting the Spanish sun on our faces. It's damn nice to see mountains again!

As the morning wears on, clouds cover everything above about 2500m, but that clears up later as well. The valley is quite nice and the walking is relaxing. At the bottom (1400m) we follow some instructions from Zu Fuss, fight our way through some brambles, and end up walking along a watercourse for about an hour. This is a really nice, forested alternative to walking along the busy road.

We have lunch under the trees, then head down to the road for the last leg into Parzan (1144m, 3:00). The road stretch is hot, sunny, and a bit tiring (psychically), so it's reallly nice to get a hotel room and have a long relaxing shower.

After a cool beverage at the gas station/super market/bar, we head into the market to do resupply and fight our way through the crowds of French doing liquor and cigarette shopping tourism. As we are paying for our stuff an entire tour bus load of elderly French arrive (no joke). Despite the chaos, we still ended up with most of what we needed for the next leg of the trip.

All in all it was a pretty quiet day. Almost a rest day except for the 1500m of descent and doing laundry in the hotel bathroom sink (ah, the glories of backpacking!). :-)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pyrenees Day 11: Cirque de Troumouse -> Refuge de Barroude

Despite our best efforts, another late start (9:15). It just doesn't seem to matter what we do! :-) Part of the delay is caused by our gawking at the clouds as they move into and out of the Cirque. The cloud level is moving around between about 1800m and about 2000m, so we're always above the clouds (blue skies above!) but various pieces of the Cirque are being covered and exposed. It's most excellent.

Today's plan is to follow a suggestion from Zu Fuss and get out of the Cirque De Troumouse by walking up one of the walls and walking around the neighboring valley to get to the Horquette de Heas. This sounds kind of fun, even if it does involve spending another section of a day in "no-path" mode. The alternative, which doesn't sound like fun, is to descend 500m to Heas and then immediately gain that 500m back along the HRP to get to the Horquette.

After walking around the Tuc de l'Escaurede to reach the Cirque wall, we start up in a series of zig zags. From below it doesn't look particularly possible, but it's actually not that bad. 400m later and we're at the top in the Col de la Sede (2651m, 11:15). There were bits that we found challenging (different bits for each of us), but all things considered it was no biggie.

From the top we once again have great views in both directions, but France below 2000m is lost underneath the clouds. :-) Up here it's sunny and beautiful. We re-greet the Vignemale (surprise!) and continue along the rim of the bowl. Taking a good path across some scree, we reach the Col de la Gela with views of Spain, which is cloudless, and the Refuge de Barroude (today's destination), which for the moment at least, is above the clouds.

At this point things get a little unclear directionwise. We err on the side of not losing height and end up having to traverse a very steep and loose scree slope without a path. This is not the most entertaining of activities. A perceptual very long time later we're back on firm ground and on a path which leads without further adventure to the Horquette de Heas (2608m, 1:00). We have lunch close to a big group of surprisingly quiet young French. The views are excellent and just watching the clouds climb and recede and climb and recede is entertaining. They're at about 2300m or 2400m now.

Descending the other side we follow a nice path through a couple of cols and then end up in the clouds. Visibility drops to 10m or so. After turning onto an unmarked, but very good, path we proceed for a perceptually very long time without being quite sure if we're going the right way.

We climb some, descend some, climb some, descend some, see nothing, and start to doubt (well, at least Greg starts to doubt). 30 seconds after Greg checks his watch and says "well, we haven't walked too long yet" we find a sign. 30 minutes to Barroude! Hooray! Since there's nothing to see, those 30 minutes only takes us 20 and we arrive at the Refuge (2390m) and have warm beverages.

There's no sense camping in a very wet cloud, so we opt to stay in the refuge. It's not too full, so things are reasonably quiet. We play some cribbage, have sponge baths (cold, but great anyway), do some route planning, talk with a couple guys hiking part of the HRP, have a nice meal (Barroude is known for the cooking... not a coincidence that we're staying there), and go to bed. Of course there's a snorer and the room ends up hot and stinky. Still... it's better than cloud camping.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pyrenees Day 10: Montagne de Pouey Boucou -> Cirque de Troumouse

Today was, by any objective measure, very very lazy.

We get started after 9 (9:10), do a little 100m climb, and then walk around the ridge to the Auberge de Maillet (1830m). After passing the hostel we climb up to the base level of the Cirque de Troumouse (~2100m) on a very steep path cutting across switchbacks in the road. Since we're late, this is in the direct sun, so it's hot. The Cirque is very, very impressive: it covers about 300 degrees, has high walls (>500m), lots of variation in wall mountain type, and is about 13km across.

We walk across to the "middle" where there's a silly statue of Mary (why is she holding a rosary? "hail me, full of grace..."), a shepherd's hut (the only source of shade visible) and a ton of people. We have lunch and a nice rest in the shade of the hut then set off for another hour across the Cirque to find a good camping spot near water and the beginning of tomorrow's hike. The wall that we're going to be going up looks pretty steep and sheer, but the guidebook hasn't led us wrong yet, so this is no huge cause for anxiety.

We succeed with our quest at around 3pm and then spend the next couple hours doing some laundry and screwing around. After an early soup course at 5 we futz around a bit longer before pitching the tent at 7 and having the main course of dinner.

The earlier crowds are all gone and all is quiet; aside from us the only life in sight is cows and sheep. For whatever reason, these herds don't move down at night.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pyrenees Day 9: Gavarnie -> Montagne de Pouey Boucou

The day's plan is for a short walk, about five hours, to pitch the tent somewhere in the Cirque d'Estaube (Greg, who always thinks of food, calls this "Cirque d'Escabeche"). We start late (9:30) after another crappy French breakfast, walk through Gavarnie, do a bit of last minute shopping, and then really set out.

After getting out of town the day really starts with a steep 600m climb to the Refuge des Espuguettes (2027m), which has a great location, fantastic views, and no terrace... odd. We continue on upwards another 400m to the Horchette d'Alans (2430m).

By this point we are in the sun and it was starting to get hot. The col offers great views of both the Cirque d'Estaube and the other side (the Breche, Tallon, etc. up to the Vignemale), so we could see some parts of day 2's hike. Unfortunately, a large group of loud Frenchmen are sitting in the best spot (and showing every sign of planning to stay there for quite a while... they can hardly be blamed), so we have a quick lunch looking out over the Vignemale and Breche de Roland and saying goodbye. :-(

A steep descent along a path with moderate crowds leads down into the Cirque. Halfway down we decide that we have plenty of energy and will finish the stage as described in Zu Fuss by continuing on to the Auberge de Maillet on the edge of the Cirque de Troumouse (Greg: "Cirque de Pamplemousse"). We pick up the pace a bit and head along the autobahn by the stream at the bottom of the Cirque, weaving our way through crowds. Along the way we look for possible campsites (if there's something good, might as well stick to the original plan!), but all of these are unfortunately either full of cows or right next to the autobahn, er, I mean "path".

After crossing the stream on a bridge (1680m), we set out cross country following an unmarked hint of a thought of a fantasy of a trail towards the Cirque de Troumouse. Eventually we find a real trail and start up another steep 200m climb. This is in the sun and quite hot, so our search for a campsite becomes a bit more serious. After crossing a stream we spot a potential site that doesn't pan out, but after a bit more exploration we find a nice location. The only problems are the thistles and the sheep poop. We solve both of these problems and settle in.

After admiring the views and having a nice nap in the sun, we start looking forward to the stargazing to come. These hopes are quickly squashed by the clouds that roll up the valley and over us as Greg makes dinner. We have dinner in the fog, listening to the retreating bells of the sheep as they move down into the valley (or wherever they go at night).

It's a wonderfully quiet night with neither adverse weather nor wind.