A day near Auzat

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February 2nd 2009
Published: February 2nd 2009
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Yesterday was our First Big Hike of the year with our walking group. Last week’s was cancelled because of the aftermath of the storms, but yesterday, good weather had been ordered. Driving through Tarascon & Vicdessos to Auxat, there were gullies of snow on the roadside - hardly anything really, so Malcolm and I at least were unprepared for what lay ahead. Our walk started with a stiff upward climb towards a village, Saleix, so pretty and manicured that it was obviously the choice of second homers. After that though, we climbed quickly, initially going through occasional, then constant patches of light snow. The weather was wonderful, brightly hot and clear, and yet clean cold air refreshed our faces. Then the snow got deeper. Inexperienced types like me struggled to emulate King Wenceslas’ pageboy, and follow in his master’s steps (well, those of our leader Etienne anyway). Far too often, I missed my footing and found my legs plunging more than two feet down into the fresh snow. Once I lost a walking pole, and trying to retrieve it, lost my balance and rolled down a (small) hill. A muscular group member had fun having me grab onto his walking pole

A very pretty village - but tough luck if you forget to buy the bread down in Auzat
while he hauled me up. Someone else photographed the whole thing. Perhaps he’ll show me the snaps one day……

I got VERY tired. It’s not the sort of walk we’d ever have done by ourselves, and I came near to giving up from sheer exhaustion. Keeping your eye on the only-just trodden path, and lifting your feet up high all the time is tough. But the novelty of walking in bright fresh snow, surrounded by the mountains, kept me going, and I’m so glad. Our lunch break was at a refuge at the top of Col de la Crouzette, and no mountain restaurant could have been more welcome. Tables and benches to sit at, pegs for our rucksacks, panoramic views, and food to share….. We were even welcomed by a forester, with suitably Gallic beret and handlebar moustache. Malcolm and a couple of the others tried unsuccessfully to dry out their snow-soggy feet, and I courted instant popularity by handing out ginger nuts (fait à la maison). Refreshed, we began the long descent by a different route. Again, it was hard going, but we all felt better, and started victimising some of the livelier members of the group with
The walk starts in earnest....The walk starts in earnest....The walk starts in earnest....

...and so does the snow
well-aimed snowballs.

Finally back in Auzat, we went to the bar that some of you who’ve visited us already know - the one with all the anti-Sarko posters. Its small and very simple, but it delivered what we needed - hot drinks all round and somewhere warm and dry to sit for a while. We’ll be back soon.

By the way, I've only just discovered that you can get a bigger version of any individual blog photo that interests you simply by clicking on it. I'm obviously a slow learner

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


Nearly lunchtime...........Nearly lunchtime...........
Nearly lunchtime...........

..and the refuge is in sight
A break at lastA break at last
A break at last

...at la Cabane la Crouzette
The friendly foresterThe friendly forester
The friendly forester

..and his dog, beret and handlebar moustache
Thought for the week:Thought for the week:
Thought for the week:

'Those who drink in order to forget are asked to pay up front'

2nd February 2009

Yes, and you can get a slideshow too! Great pictures. Looks more like a raquette walk to me though ...
22nd February 2009

You can only say that if you've not tried raquettes.....

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