Gr5 Day 9 – I am no goat

Dear bosses of French paths, 

I am not a goat.  I admit I may have the stubborn tendencies of a goat, but I don’t have the balance or the small feet.   So why the hell are you expecting me to walk down a path that was clearly designed for damn goats.  Sort this sh!t out!    

Yours, Bricking it, Mel

It was a wonderful start to the morning.  Up at 5.20 with the birds, I no longer need an alarm clock.  I left veille ville just before six and hitched a ride back to the trail  with a French hippy who surfs in California six months every year

My magic hiking hours are between six and nine.  Everything is still and you have the hills entirely to yourself (well except for the cows who are much cuter here as they have bells on).  I hiked up from chateau queyras to see the sun come up along the valley.

And the onward up 1000m to the Col de fromage (cheese pass in English, but it sounds better in French). Stunning views to the south.

A steep descent down to ceillac where the world was finally rousing!  I definitely need more calories these days to keep my legs going so I stocked up with a few chestnut tarts, a chocolate pastry and an aubergine pie, and had a blueberry tart for breakfast.  Two coffees and a water refill and back to the hills as there would be no town for at least 8 hours.

Then it was up to the Col Girardin at 2700m, (another 1000m up).   A beautiful climb with a gorgeous blue lake and a tiny church just before the summit.

Climbing the Col was a bit harrowing as it was quite steep and schisty!  Thankfully it was pissing down by this point so I had my hood up and that made it harder to look down.   I kept up the mantra in my head of ‘one step at a time, don’t look down’ and I eventually made it to the top, when I realised I had to go down the other side, which was a bit of a challenge also.  I would have taken a photo from the top but my fingers were numb and the wind was howling

Then it was a long but ok descent until I reached the aforementioned goat path.  I saw it and I thought ‘hell no, that can’t be the path, they must be kidding!’.   The picture below doesn’t do it justice.   It was steep, schisty, with a crazy drop down to the valley of about 1000 metres and the path was about 10cm wide and sloping.    I got started and was frankly bricking myself.  I gave myself a stern but encouraging talking to as I walked across ‘just one step at a time and keep breathing.’  At one point I contemplated sitting down to try and quell the panic but then I realised if I sat down I would never get up again, and my darling husband would have to come and find me decomposing on the side of the hill.  I made it, but am sorely tempted to send a stern note to the path makers.

After that it was a (thankfully) boring 8k walk along the road down the valley to the rather groovy Pont du Chatelet, which sits 100m above the river and is spanned by an 70 year old stone bridge (my photos don’t do it justice).

Then one final climb of 500m up to Fouillouse, arriving at 4.20 just before the heavens opened

Am sitting in front of the fire, massaging my bare feet and contemplating dinner (yes I am still hungry in spite of eating everything I bought in ceillac, a full picnic  from the gite last night and some snacks – it is amazing how much fuel my body is demanding!)

Update – dinner was extraordinary, leek tart, roast pork, salad, veg, cheese (huge hunks) and plum tart…. Sigh!  And was profoundly asleep by 8.45pm

Distance = 41km

Ascent/descent = 2700/2200

Time on feet = 9.5 hours

Pieces of pie/cake/pastry used as fuel in the absence of any other healthy alternative = 5

Times froze in vertigo panic = 3

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