After a series of unpleasant weather on weekends, I finally did my first 2016 spring hike this weekend. I couldn’t do much on saturday since it rained. The weather forecast for sunday wasn’t exciting either; the sun wouldn’t be up before noon and northern wind would still dominate the region. However, we had been waiting for sun since forever, so took our chance and decided to hike.
Croix de l’Alpe
Since I was uncertain with the weather I brought every possible thing inside my bag. I had my summer hat, winter cap, fleece jacket, windbreaker, and sunglasses. Sunday morning, we headed to Saint Pierre d’Entremont, one hour drive from Grenoble. It was 8degrees outside, grey and foggy. Our direction was Croix de l’Alpe that is located in the north Chartreuse.
There were two other cars in the parking when we arrived. We started the hike from Pont Drugey at 860m of altitude before entered the cirque de St. Même. A small river flows down from the big waterfall that separates Savoie and Isère. We were in the Savoie side.
At the bottom of the curcuit, a warning sign was given “Ne vous surestimez pas! Choissisez une randonnée de votre niveau” means not to overestimate your hiking skill. We started hiking up closer to the waterfall. It’s fascinating despite the fact that we could barely see the surrounding due to the fog.
Finished with the waterfall we continued our hike and arrived at the pas de la mort (path of the death) – was to avoid during wet weather or by children. It was not raining, but the soil was quite wet. We tempted to pass it and we did. The begining of the path was rather sharp but there were still places on the rock to put our feet on. Then we had to pass a small cave and walk on 40cm-ish path. It was alright. The slope at the end was sharper. Cables and steel bars were available to help but I was down crawling on same part of the path. And if it wasn’t thanks to Cyrille and Philippe helping me through the way, I wouldn’t pass the path. After the pas de la mort, we entered the forest still with low visibility due to the fog.
Out from the forest was the valley. Our destination was the Croix de l’Alpe, but the walking path was difficult to see. The valley was part of the GR9 – Grande Randonnée – so even with low visibility there were signs. We crossed some hikers who seemed tired after three days staying in the bad weathers. Around 1pm, I started to get hungry and the end of the hike seemed nowehere around. Finally after walked for another 30mins, the sun was coming and the fog started to move as the blue sky arrived, I knew where I was and I saw the cross at the summit. Unfortunately my camera had taken some humidity and thus was useless.
Seeing the blue sky with the sun hit us, our effort was paid off. We arrived at the top at 1822m of altitude and had our lunch. Though the sun was there, not all the fog was gone, but with it slowly moved away, beautiful flowers of the valley started to be seen. We headed down to the parking and went home.
The monday was holiday in France (May is one of the busiest month but also the one with the most holiday in France). The weather forecast was good and the wind seemed to calm down. We decided to do another hike to La Pinéa, still in the Chartreuse but not in the north.
To go to la Pinéa, we took the bus from Grenoble to Col de Porte. We took off just two stations before col de porte at Le Croz – 1100m of altitude. Still was not fully dry from the previous rain, the starting path and the forest path were so muddy and it was a real pain in the arse. It was sliperry and the sensation of stepping on soft clay were unpleasant. Even in that condition we still crossed some runners trailing up to the summit.
The muddy clay was gone after passing through the forest. The view was breathtaking with the Belledonne and Vercors chains at sight. Chamechaude was standing there. Out of the forest we were at around 1600m altitude, 200m more to hike.
We arrived around 10h20am at the summit. It was calm and serein. Being there in the morning had its advantage, not many people were there yet at the top. Since we had to catch the bus back at 12, we couldn’t stay too long at the top. We started to hike down where we crossed more people started to hike up.
Unfortunately I have been troubled with my right knee this past month (I broke my cross ligament and got surgery back in 2012). After biking around the Néron last month I got back some of the pain. With my trip to Bordeaux last week – where I walked alot – and the hiking this weekend I have been feeling some mild pain. Hope it will go away.