Here’s Sue’s diary record for Stage 3:
Tuesday 28 August 2007
A warm, sunny morning. Breakfasted on sugar puffs/cornflakes, and bread and jam, with plenty of tea/coffee.
The start was downhill until we joined a wide, contouring path, high above the valley, dotted with pines.
Spotted marmots enjoying the warm sun. The views changed as we rounded the hillside. The path was well graded, making light of the climbing.
We regroup at the sight of two large white dogs standing sentinel in front of us. Signs had warned of these. We continued uneventfully, finding the large flock of sheep that was being guarded. Four of these dogs herded the sheep on the hillside, providing protection from wolves.
Jenny's Friend guards His Flock
Our morning coffee/tea break was at the top of a small hill with views to the Doron gorge, the valley, and to our continuing route over scree slopes.
Brew stop at La Loza
Cloud was heavier now - the forecast was for rain today. The cooler air makes for pleasant walking. The trail undulates, with lots of folk coming the other way. A few spots of rain fall and we decide to lunch at around 12.30, finding a pleasant spot next to the Bonne nuit stream. Here, our three 'picnics' are shared out and enjoyed.
The path veers away from the populated valley, and I eat a few handfuls of sparse bilberries en route to abandoned farm buildings at Le Mont.
The 'Combe d'Enfer' gives us views of our destination - the Refuge de l'Arpont, and we cross an area of waterfalls, crags and roaring streams - no ibex or 'bouquetin' to be seen - just several small parties out for an afternoon walk.
Final stream before l'Arpont
More spots hasten the last stage to the refuge - arrival 2.45pm.*
But the weather was good enough for a drink outside before we adjourned to the refuge.
Showers, hot drinks, etc. Watch very fat marmots on nearby rocks - pairs cavorting together. As it's cool, we occupy the dining room, doing Soduko, reading, diary writing, and trying to stay warm.
Dinner is welcome - pea and ham soup is an instant warmer. Pork (surprise!) with pineapple and pasta, a cheese course, then pears for dessert. No lettuce! All are warmer now. The sky has cleared and the surrounding mountains appear closer as a result.
* Martin and Sue seem to have changed their name to 'Van Field', which provokes some interest among the Dutch party sitting at our table. (This is the refuge's interpretation of our surname - we soon clarify the we are not Dutch - but from Manchester.)
St John's Wort, puffballs, etc today. Also a stove incident. I mis-threaded it onto the gas cylinder. The whole lot caught fire and the igniter melted. Nobody else noticed! The stove still seems to work, but I'm not sure about the seal with the canister. It may now leak.
Tonight Sue resumed her winning ways at Uno.
[Stats: 8.45 to 2.45 including 1.5 hours stops = 4.5 hours walking today, 18.0 km with 715 metres ascent, compared with Kev's estimate of 5.5 to 6 hours + 486m ascent.]
(Anquet: 16 km, 1472 m ascent)
Vanoise flowers identified on this trip
Alpine Birdsfoot Trefoil
Common Cow Wheat
Grass of Parnassus
Mountain Houseleek (pictured below)
Alpine Lady's Mantle
Mountain St John's Wort
and many more