Recon trip for next winter.
An easy hike from the 1st stage (Peyrou D'Amont) of the La Grave's cable car. Nice early morning views of the lower glaciers. A couple of people were parasailing but the lack of thermals meant they headed back down to the village pretty quickly (elles sont ou ces p*tains de pompes?). The trail to the lake goes down a bit from the cable car station before wrapping around the mountain towards the refuge Evariste Chancel. From there you have nice views on the plateau d'emparis and a few small villages hanging over cliffs. We stayed at the lake and did not hike to the refuge for lunch, instead we had a couple of saussicon sandwiches (old skool :-) )by the water. It was deserted early on, but the ease of access meant quite a few people showed up by lunch. We met a japanese family who were working in Russia for the embassy and were spending their summer holidays nearby. They were quite shocked when a dodgy-looking frenchman came by and started speaking in Japanese to them. The kids especially had a good giggle (they were probably laughing at my japanese). I went fly-fishing around the lake and caught about a dozen small truites arc en ciel (raimbow trouts / Niji Massu) and saumons de fontaine (Arctic Chars / Iwanas). I released them all into the lake. Life is rough...
A nice steepish hike above the plaine du bourget which is istelf above Cervieres (on the road to the col d'izoard from Briançon). One section involves hiking with the help of cables which was good fun. You then reach the vallon gras, below the ''deversoir'' du lac des cordes. It is another 45 minutes to the lake which is large and beautiful. It is quite popular as many people access it from la plaine des fonds via the col des marsailles which is not as steep. By 3pm everybody was gone and we had the lake to ourselves. I went fly-fishing all around it and got a couple of hits on dry flies, but once again the fish were small saumons de fontaine. Some vairons were in the roseaux while some alevins of brown trouts were in the stream near the deversoir. I went to a nearby small lake for a walk and found some baby marmottes frolicking in the sun. Meanwhile gliders were doing their things, dancing with the cumulus. On the way back to the car we came accross a lady sheperd with her dog asking if we had seen her goats. We had seen them as they were just at the top of the ridge in the vallon gras. She hikes up there every evening to coral them back into their pens in the valley to protect them from the wolves. It was another good day which was sadly the last outing for me before going back to Tokyo.
With George & Izumi. The temperature at 5.30am was a nice 7c in Echigo Yuzawa. We had a nice steepish hike to the summit of Daigenta-san (1598m) followed by an even steeper down-climb on maintained rock faces (chains+ropes), a ridge hike to Nanatsugoya-yama (1675m) before looping back on the ridge of the south-facing slopes of the yomogi-toge bowl and going back down via shishigoyanokashira (1472m). It was a 9h+ hike with about 1300m of positive vert. I took it easy (I could not have charged even if I had wanted to anyway). On the way up the Daigenta ridge we saw a nice Tiger KeelBack snake lazing in the sun. It was soaking up the first morning rays and was refusing to move (so much for ground vibrations...). Since it was cliffy on either side of the trail I tried to make myself paper-thin :-) and shuffle sideways with my backpack between the snake and myself. It eventually slithered away into the undergrowth. Daigenta has some excellent views of the nearby peaks and on a good day you can see quite far. On that day the skies were clear but there was the classic thermal inversion on the Tenjin side keeping some low clouds into the valley and making the air hazy in other parts. The steep down climb from Daigenta was a bit tough for me. I had a fringal at the summit and did not eat properly to re-charge the batteries. So when I started the down climb I was kind of stumbling around. When I started gripping the chain it was obvious that my left hand was not up to the task of a tight hold (I cannot yet make a closed fist) given my recently broken finger. So instead of a nice clean climb down I had to scramble down as best as I could with my right hand only providing the necessary clinch on the rope. Not pretty but it worked. We then proceeded along the ridge to Nanatsugoya-Yama for a lunch break. That's when I realized my healing finger looked like a frankfurter from the strain of the daigenta down-climb. Oh well... It will get better eventually. We then headed back going through summit marshes and thick sasa grass. The hike down was in a nice shaded forest which gave us a welcome respite from the searing sun. A beautiful hike with great vistas.
With George & Izumi. Perfect temps to hike at around 6 degrees celsius in the morning. Around 1300m of positive vert in autumn colors. Nice weather but a bit hazy and some nimbus rolling in half-way through the day. A lot of man-made stairs to spare the vegetation from the trail. Beautiful sceneries.