Thursday, September 08, 2011

Maritime Alps Tour Day 5: Refuge de Nice -> Baisse des Cinq Lacs

We get an early-ish start from the hut after a pretty unsatisfactory breakfast (naja... the French and breakfast). Down a bit from the hut, along the lake, through the horses, past the dam, and then a sharp right and the climbing starts. Pretty steep up along the nicely made GR52 up, up (hmmm, getting up and then doing a lot of climbing... maybe this is an Andrea special type 2?) and over a few steps we go. As we get higher there's more and more nice block walking to do.
Towards the Pas de Mt Colomb (in the center)
Grisly find around one curve: a dead young chamoix with a broken neck on the path. Up we continue until we hit the Pas de Mt Colomb (2548m). Great views in both directions which we enjoy with a short break. No one is visible from our side, but there is a fair number coming up the other side.

After a bit of rest, we bid the sun a temporary adieu and head down the other side. Pass a few groups coming up, hit the sun again, and enjoy and energy bar break on the rocks. Down, down, ...
A bit of scrambling
...steadily getting greener and more civilized until we reach the river below la Madone de Fenestre. Plenty of people pass us going in the other direction, this is a popular route. We take an extended lunch break in the mixed shade and sun next to the rushing river with foot baths, playing in the water (Andrea), laundry (Greg), and some good rest.
Lunch spot
After lunch we start up, up towards the Baisse des Cinq Lacs. At first the path takes us through trees and we pass a few other groups heading the same way. At the first step we hit a really nice valley with grass floor, streams, and steep walls. Up the other side of this valley to the pass. From here we have a good view of some of the five lakes in their grassy surroundings under the cliffs: a couple are looking mighty green but there is one that still looks promising. There are, as expected in a really scenic spot that's less than 2 hours from a parking lot, plenty of people about.
Down to the lakes
We head down to the lakes and walk them to scout out a good spot for the tent, dump our stuff there and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. A bit of picture taking, a bit of washing, a bit of just laying there and enjoying the views. Eventually every one else leaves, so we go ahead and make dinner and pitch the tent. During our post-dinner stroll we simultaneously realize that we could take better advantage of the clear air from the little peak to the left of the pass. On with the boots and up we race (it's easy without the packs!). From the top we enjoy incredible 360 degree views, take lots of pictures, enjoy a nice sunset, and then head back down to the tent. After doing the log writing, we head off to bed.
Tent site, next to the lake
One of many sunset pictures
It was a very, very nice day. Sleeping at the hut and keeping the last two days short was a good idea.

Dinner: Soup: tomato zucchini with dumpling enrichment. Main: mashed potatoes with sauteed salami and chopped/powdered dried porcini mushrooms.

Approximate stats: 8.0 km, 837m up, 779m down

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