some snow after all

Alarm at 7, but we snooze until 8: it’s raining and we’re not in a hurry to get out there. Breakfast with champagne – the last of the bottle we opened two days ago – and then the usual procedure to start the hiking day. We decide to do one of the official winter hikes today: these start from the ski stations and are well indicated. We’re hoping that it will be a decent and safe track to compensate for all the excitement yesterday! Google predicts dry weather after noon, but it’s raining when we set off from the huge empty parking lot so we make some small wardrobe adjustments. I can try the rain cover of my home-made camera harness, I’ve designed it with my mom two weeks ago and am now trying out the prototype. Some minor adjustments will be needed, f.e. it would be useful to attach the rain cover to the harness somehow, so that when you take it off the camera for a picture you don’t have to hold it in your hands.

As we parked the car at the bottom of the ski slopes we start the hike by going up up up, you can see the track on Wikiloc here. There is a cold wind and we’re often walking in the clouds so for the first time this holiday we can really use the rain jackets, woolly hats and gloves. We’re walking along wide forestry tracks and even encounter a car once, perhaps somebody working to prepare the ski season starting next week. The forest here is a nice mix of deciduous and evergreen trees, green and alive but not too gloomy. The higher up we go, the more snow we encounter. Around Grouvelin we’re above 1000 m and the snow on the north facing slopes is soft and often more than 40 cm thick. Even here there is a lot of melting going on, drip dripping from trees and little streams are clearing the snow of the foot paths. We have lunch on tree stump number 2 – number 1 seemed more comfortable but when we take off all our top layers to put on a extra dry t-shirt, we quickly concluded that another spot – without water dripping from the tree above – would be more convenient. Not a lot of room, but we put down the butt isolation mats and sit back to back to share some warmth. Tea, sandwiches and no sound but water and wind, a nice moment.

No wildlife sightings today, but we do spot lots of tracks in the snow, not sure if they’re from roe deer or red deer, the size implies red deer but honestly I’m not an expert. The fresh scat we see is definitely from a roe deer, must have passed here very recently. We have great views of the snowy slope below us, but do not spot anything moving.. Down we go to the ski station of Chaume Francis, it’s a bit weird to see all this silent machinery and empty space – in a few weeks there will be throngs of people here. The sun is coming out and it’s much warmer down here, so we shed some layers and follow the valley ever downward, we can hear the stream rushing not far away but cannot see it. Never mind, the footing is treacherous and we need to keep our eyes on the (pink granite!) road.

We see a bird of prey skimming over a small pond and we’re thinking we’re almost there, but it looks like there is a last steep climb to do. I double check the route but indeed, the car is several altitude lines away from us.. Back home, the drive is barely long enough to get the seat heating going, first a shower to rinse off the sweat and then ice cream and a movie: today it’s Sleepy Hollow. Sort pictures, write blog and in half an hour we’re going out to try the local specialty fondue Savoyarde. Picture a stoneware bowl in the middle of the table with molten cheese and then different stuff to dip into it.

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