Today's hike took us up to 1734 metres, to a summit so spoilt for views that it has three separate orientation plinths. Whilst modest in height by local standards, it's the highest point between a number of valleys that are otherwise surrounded by high mountains, and is therefore home to some wonderful panoramas even on grey days like this one.
We started from the apartment, passing an obscenely loud great tit outside the front door and heading through the village and past the swimming pool. At the end of the tarmac a red and white tape with a 'snowshoers only - respect their space' sign barred our way. We ignored it and continued past rummaging blackbirds along the woodland path on which Sue is pictured.
A booming woman's voice from a ski school across the valley accompanied us for a while as we continued along the path signed to Les Confins.
Eventually we reached an area of sparse snow and awkward bits of ice. Crampons would have been more help than snowshoes, but we didn't regret having neither.
There was nobody else around. In fact we met one person all day. Gloves were not needed as we continued to climb snowshoe trail number 12.
At the Mouilles de la Perrière Sue spotted a strange object under a tarpaulin (pictured - centre). "I wonder what that is?" she asked. I hadn't a clue but I bet Sheila doesn't ask such questions!
A few metres after this we turned sharp left with a view to ascending what would be our first hill of the year. The path rose steadily. I'd noticed a point on the map at 1561 metres that I'd planned to pause at - half way up the 400 metre ascent from the Mouilles. This was going to be the first time this week that we'd regret having forgotten to pack our flask.
Imagine our surprise to discover that the building at point 1561 was in fact 'La Ferme du Danay' a restaurant and buvette where we were able to enjoy a coffee and eat our sandwiches in the company of the tenants, Carinne and Mitch. We spent a happy time with them, chatting about (guess what?) a host of outdoor topics.
Then trail 33 led easily on hard packed snow to the 1734 metre summit of Tête du Danay for the wonderful panoramic views mentioned earlier, one of which is shown in the lower picture. (Remember this was a grey day on which rain was forecast to fall all day - the fact that we got any view at all and stayed perfectly dry was something of a surprise.)
Continuing along the ridge, we soon came across the Bellavarde ski piste that we'd enjoyed on Monday from Les Confins. It was open today, and several people were struggling round a steep corner where I'd taken off my skis on Monday.
Snowshoe trail number 32 then took us north for a couple of hours down packed snow towards the Grand-Bornand valley. An easy and enjoyable descent, despite the gloomy weather and a few sheets of ice lower down before the snow completely disappeared. The Nordic ski tracks at Le Grand-Bornand were mostly 'ice rink' quality and were very decisively marked 'closed' in numerous languages, albeit anyone attempting them would have to be crazy.
A short ride on the free skibus got us back to a rainy La Clusaz shortly after 4 pm, after this 14 km outing with around 700 metres ascent, taking about five hours.