Day 3

Date: Sunday 12/08/2018
Stage: La Chapelle d’Abondance > Refuge de Chéséry

Afstand: 19,0 kilometer
Ascent: 1428m / Descent: 468m

Weather: Sunny, 28°C

I’m having a good breakfast in the hotel, because the day starts with a steady climb of 900m to Les Mattes (1918m). After the difficult stage yesterday, I’m not really confident. So I’m starting a little more careful and hope not to meet to many problems today. Going back to the room I come accross a hiker, ready to leave. I’ll meet him again later on the trail. I’m starting much later than I usually do, around 8h30, because I decides not to follow any plan. I’ll just walk and see where that gets me.

First the trail goes on a flat surface to Le Moulin, where you start the 4,5 km long ascent to Les Mattes. The first bit is on asphalt, but then changes to gravel and in the end normal soil. Before Sur le Bayard I come across a waterfall. A little further I meet two older British chaps. I stay for a while and talk to them. It seems one of them, Paul, has a lot of pain in his knee and that’s on day two of their hike. They started from Saint-Gingolph yesterday. The other one, Michael, we’ll meet later on.

I leave the men and keep climbing at my own pace. It’s a fun path and eventually it reaches the farm at Les Crottes (1524m). While walking I’m being accompanied by the local cow bell symphonic orchestra. After the chalet I meet the hiker I saw earlier at the hotel. He’s an older Swiss man, Charles, and a child of the mountain. We keep ascending the mountain together. At Chalet de la Torrens (1733m) we take a little break. Charles seems to suffer from warm feet quite often. I don’t mind to rest a little. At 11h30 we arrive at Les Mattes, where you have a beautiful panoramic view on the Cornettes de Bise as well as the Pas de la Bosse (where I rested yesterday) and the Col de Bassachaux. But the latter is mostly recognizable by the reflection of the sun on the many cars that are parked there.

Day 3: View from Les Mattes in NE direction.

We have two choices to descend. A longer but not so steep path, or a path that goes down very steeply. It’s a little slippery, but Charles and I choose the latter, although it’s not marked on the map. Eventually you end up a bit further than Le Pron, at altitude 1660m on the map. At l’Etrye we decide to take the lunch break. There is only some shade around the little building, but it’s covered with mud and cow shit. So we pick a spot in the sun.

Only later we notice that a little higher up, in one of the hairpin turns, there are some trees offering shade. The climb to altitude 1840m happens in full sun, but I don’t mind. Charles on the other hand is suffering from the heat, while he’s normally the one with a steady pace. He’s happy when we get to the top and to rest in the shade of a high pine tree. The descend to Lenlevay goes quickly but not much later, Charles has to stop again to cool his feet. I keep walking to Col de Bassachaux. From altitude 1663m it’s only a few kilometers to the Col, but it seems to go on forever. First I come across quite some mud. Then there is the altitude, the heat and a flock of cows coming down the hill. At 2pm I sit down on the terrace at the Col. There’s a cold wind blowing and I wear my fleece to keep warm. I decide to order an omelette with a salad. Charles joins me a little later. When we’re about the leave at 15h15, the two British men, Paul and Michael, arrive at the chalet. Paul will eventually stop here. He will order a cab to go down to the valley and then get to Chamonix . He’s hoping to rest his knees enough to continue from there.

The path between Col de Bassachaux (1780m) and Refuge de Chésery (1980m) climbs slowly and is not that difficult. But you have to watch out for mountainbikers and other downhillers. Though the path is divided in two with on the left the bikers and on the right hikers, plenty of hikers walk on the left. Many times we see bikers who have to brake hard because of walkers not being on the right side of the path. Our last meters in France, at Col de Chésery (1992m), will be shared with a flock of cows. Then, there’s only 1km left to the refuge of Chésery.

Dag 3: Het Lac Vert aan de Refuge de Chésery. ’s Ochtends met de juiste lichtinval inderdaad een prachtig groen schouwspel.

De refuge is gelegen aan de mooie Lac Vert. Charles gaat er op zoek naar een mooie locatie voor z’n tent. De chalethoudster staat het toe dat er tenten geplaatst worden, zolang het GR5-wandelaars zijn die ook toestemming komen vragen. Ikzelf ben te lui en kies voor een bed in de refuge. Zeker omdat er onweer voorspeld is voor vannacht en het de volgende dagen niet zonnig zal zijn. De tent in zulke omstandigheden drogen is niet ideaal. Een droog onderkomen is dan ook welkom.

Terwijl andere wandelaars in de refuge hun avondeten nuttigen, maak ik van de gelegenheid gebruik om in de schemer mijn drogende was op te pikken. Echter, terwijl ik terug naar binnen wil stappen, knal ik met mijn hoofd vol tegen een draagbalk van het chalet. Resultaat: een gapende wonde in mijn wenkbrauw, een wonde onder m’n haarlijn, een gezwollen rechteroog, een pijnlijke wonde boven mijn rechteroog, hoofdpijn en een pijnlijke oogkas. De refugehoudsters helpen me aan een paar ijsblokken om de zwelling te verminderen en een doekje tegen het bloeden. Daar zit ik dan…