GR5 Day 4 – Going with the flow

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! 

I was in bed by hiker midnight (8.30pm) and didn’t even get vexed by the harmonious Swiss snoring!

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

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