Today was an excellent lesson in going with the flow! So, I was planning to traverse the Crete des Gittes – a high exposed ridge – but it was covered in clouds! So I sensibly descended to Chapieux through the most and walked into the nearest main town by road (a boring 15km).
I stopped by the tourist office who told me to avoid the next two big passes and instead head due east to pick up a lower variant of the GR5 in Bonneval. I felt OK with this option as the distance I would cover to the Mediterranean would be the same! She said there wasn’t a bus until Monday so I should ‘faire le stop’ ie hitchhike.
So I waited out a violent unexpected thunderstorm in the supermarket for an hour (lucky I wasn’t on the ridge for that) and started hitching to val d’isere. I got a ride in two minutes to halfway and then a second ride within five minutes! The mountain gods were smiling on me as the driver was a mountain guide and told me a better and more beautiful option to get back on track and go through the high passes. He rang the refuge at Col de le Laisse to make sure I could get there safely and that other hikers had cut a path through the snow and then he drove me to the trail head. (If anyone ever needs a guide – Stephane from Tignes guides)
It was a big climb and a lot of snow but as he told me it was perfectly safe as anywhere I fell I wouldn’t fall off a cliff!
I arrived at the intimate refuge which had a 32 bed dorm to find only two other hikers – Swiss guys making a film about the GR5. A note on French alpine refuges – I highly recommend them. For 40 euros you get a dorm bed (OK, complete with snoring), a big dinner (typically soup, stew and polenta, cheese and dessert) and breakfast. Given the food is helicoptered in it is terrific value! You can also buy wine and beer!
Distance traveled = 32km *
Ascent/descent = 1600/800 *
Rides hitched =2
Toenails lost = 1 (with a likelihood of at least two more)
*estimated as my garmin battery is struggling and most refuges have no electricity to charge it