I wake up thinking it must be time to wake up, though there was no alarm yet. Turns out I turned it off yesterday, but indeed it is exactly 7 am. The morning proceeds the same as yesterday: healthy breakfast, lunch prep and pack the two backpacks. Today we even remember to take the thermos of tea and our German guide to animal tracks: Welche Tierspur ist das?
Today is supposed to be the best day of the week: rain free though sometimes cloudy, temperatures around 12°C/54°F. We drive a few kilometers to Ramberchamp and park the car by the lake. I’m feeling optimistic about the temp so I set out with just a long sleeved merino tshirt and a down body warmer, I’m pessimistic though about the conditions of the paths so I also put on my gators. It’s an easy hike at the start, following the quiet Phény stream upwards. Soon though we get back to rocky climbs and the stream becomes whiter and faster, again we can hear water streaming down from all corners of the slope, we pass several pretty small waterfalls joining the stream from the edges of the small canyon. We keep thinking these must be the famous waterfalls we’re looking for but no, there are perhaps just temporary while the melt and storm waters drain away. We keep climbing, following a narrow track by the fast flowing river until we get to the Saut de la Bourrique, where the water cascades down a series of rocks.
We continue upwards, more or less following a track on the Wikiloc app on my smart phone, planning to first hike up the Mérelle look-out tower, then back down to the Mérelle waterfalls and from there back to the lake and the car. Arne spots a fluffy squirrel running up a tree and a few hundred meters further he sees a boar not far from the road. This is the first time in about 20 years that I’ve seen one in the wild, so we’re totally in awe. I risk looking away for a minute to switch the lens on my camera and we can observe it for about a minute or five before it disappears into the forest.
We hike on through the dense forest. Mostly pines around here and a thick carpet of moss and grasses, so again a very green walk. Lunch in the sun by a small pond and then onwards to the top of the hill (860m), where we climb the tower to admire the scenery.
We see some scat and get out our book to determine the animal, looks like deer again. From here on it should all go downhill. First by a local asphalt road to the Mérelle stream and then along a more and more confusing track along the water. The track we were planning on following has a sign saying it’s closed, the alternative has a sign that it’s either an alternate route or an altered route, very confusing language. Down we go, mostly through the water. There is a stream bed and it’s obviously processing more than usual, but even so it cannot contain all the water coming down and the entire slope around the bed is covered in trickles, streams, currents and torrents of water.
Often the track is inundated to the point where we have to find an alternative through the trees, but here the mosses and grasses seem to float on huge puddles, our boots once or twice sinking deep enough to get socks wet (and knowing these are especially high snow boots, that’s saying something). We have to do a few adventurous crossings, sloshing through the undeep bits, hopping over the fast flowing ones and we have to be increasingly careful, as the rocky path gets steeper and steeper. Near the end we encounter two rickety wooden bridges, supposed to make life easier for the lazy walker but now the only option to cross the river. Unfortunately they’re dilapidated to the point it was necessary to close them off and set warning signs, but we’re not turning back though and do the whole water adventure again, so we take our chances. We arrive at the bottom with shaky knees, both from the nerves and the extremely rocky path.
All that remains is the short lake path back to the parking lot, though even this is rocky and sometimes inundated. We’ll have to think carefully about where to hike tomorrow, as they are predicting rain. In fact it starts raining right when we get to the car. A quick stop at the store for dinner ingredients, back at the studio around 3 pm, a movie (Halo – Forward unto Dawn) with a snack and a glass of champagne, then spaghetti carbonara with a glass of red wine and there is still ice cream to look forward to..