Wednesday 30 August - Argentiere to Col de la Forclaz
The rain had just about blown itself out by morning, but the mountains were shrouded in cloud.
Bread, jam and coffee greeted us in the Salle a Manger at 7:30, after a slightly disturbed snooze in the dortoir, Hilde's snoring being a bit distracting. So I have a single room booked at Forclaz tonight.
Starting at 8:40, give or take a short supermarket halt for food, we spent the day on Kev Reynolds' Cicerone guide's "Alternative Stage 2". It was a warm climb through mist laden trees, as the narrow gauge toy train rumbled far below, and Gaynor panted for breath.
The village of Le Tour appeared through the mist at 9:50. After passing some jolly campers in 'mizzle' (but waterproofs were not quite needed) we found ourselves at a nice cafe, Le Pcheu, near the gondola station. Surprisingly only Sue, Caroline and I succumbed. (This was the first of several 'walk past' incidents where the majority of the group are too stingy to buy coffee.)
Lots of harebells, buttercups, rosebay willowherb, eyebright,
and other delights such as
The 2204 metre Col de Balme was reached at 11:55, and we lunched nearby in 10°C, with virtually no wind, but some needed gloves. Fleeces were definitely required.
Nice brew of tea, plus cheese and tomato on a roll. Hawk on a wire. 12:50.
Descend towards Forclaz, meeting a couple in sandals before
bilberry delays, and an undulating route to Les Grands at 2113 metres, 14:35.
The refuge was shut. We caught up with two girls from
There is a very fine new bench here at Les Grands. From the route to this place, the final descent along the bisse to Forclaz looks a steep haul. It's an optical illusion, as it is actually downhill.
And so we ambled down to the bisse (an irrigation channel) by 15:50, passing the Americans who were most impressed by the control I exercised over the group, who all waited whilst I chatted! (They may have got lost otherwise.)
The others slept inside, tired after the shortish day. However, they resuscitated themselves by 19:30, and we enjoyed a meal of soup, chicken and ratatouille and gnocchi (Hilde insisted it was polenta!) and chips, then ice cream. That was excellent.
Uno finished at 10 pm, when we all went to bed - Sue and Caroline having gone nearly an hour earlier.