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Back to Clarée Valley

Still unable to walk much because of my sprained ankle, we decide to go back up to the beautiful Clarée Valley that we had discovered last year in the same season and discover the Fontcouverte waterfall, taking advantage of the golden larches to take some pictures.
1. The Clarée River upstream from the waterfall.

2. Fontcouverte waterfall.

3. I’m playing to look for some compositions.

4. Variation.

5. In the morning, we’re almost alone at this season while in summer, it is constantly crowded.

6. A little further up the valley.

7. We have our lunch under a mountain pasture.

8. Last view of this beautiful valley before changing corners… Since last year, signs prohibiting wild camping have grown everywhere and the only campsite there is closed for the season.

9. After a few tens of miles, we are at the very top of the Vallon de l’Orceyrette, above the Chalets de L’Alp. We are completely alone there for a quiet bivouac at about 7,900 feet elevation.

10. We discover the surroundings of the camp. This bottom of the valley is still wild.

11. View looking north.

12. We enjoy a nice campfire to cook our meal there.

Continuation and end of this few days trip shortly! 😉

Jafferau fortress, then Vallée étroite (Narrow valley)…

While setting up camp, I badly sprained my ankle. Despite the ointment applied quickly and a bandage to try to succeed in putting the foot on the ground, I will have to revise the plans. Damn! Here I am forced to give up a hike planned in two days. So, after having slept just under Fort Jafferau, we decide to take a look at this fortress in ruins.

1. South portal or what’s left of it…

2. Here, canon battery bases with the arcs indicating the directions of fire.

3. And one of the many vaulted chambers which likely served as cantonment.

4. Bird’s eye view of an alpine pasture below.

5. Panoramic view of Ecrins mountains to the West.

6. Descent to Bardonecchia via the northwest side.

7. We take advantage of the afternoon to discover the Vallée Etroite (Narrow Valley) straddling the Franco-Italian border. The enfilade towards Mount Thabor is magnificent with the fall colors.

8. Opposite, by where we arrived.

9. The river that carved out this valley, called Narrow Valley Stream.

10. I take advantage of varying the compositions since I can hardly walk. Variation 1.

11. Variation 2.

12. And one last before leaving to do some grocery shopping in Bardonecchia and refuel VivaLaVida since the strikes in France make the refill difficult.

The rest with a return into the Clarée Valley in a few days. Thanks! 😀

Lacs et Queyras…

1. Dernière soirée dans le Val Argentera.

2. Le Lago Nero (Lac Noir), proche de la frontière franco-italienne, bondé ce jour-là alors que plusieurs colonies s’y sont données rendez-vous pour la journée. Nous décidons ainsi de poursuivre la piste vers un autre lac d’altitude.

3. Campement à 2’400 m. d’altitude.

4. Emile s’entraîne à faire des ricochets.

5. Quiétude…

6. Préparation du souper.

7. Couchant

8. On se couvre un peu alors que la brise du soir rafraîchit l’atmosphère.

Ensuite, nous partons découvrir le Colle Agnello qui relie la haute vallée du Queyras à l’Italie. La vallée qui y mêne est magnifique, nous y reviendront à l’occasion.
9. Dernier lacets avant le col alors que la brume bouche le versant italien.

10. Nous trouvons un bivouac sur le versant italien, près d’un petit lac.

11. Et surprise, la brume se retire en début de soirée…

12. J’en profite pour tirer le portrait à ce joli petit lac.

13. Dernières lueurs sur les sommets.

14. Village aux traditionnels toits de pierre sur la descente côté italien.

La suite dans le prochain post.

Fall holidays (4)

1. Wake up at 8,500 feet elevation under Fort Jafferau and the full moon.

2. Mineral universe in the warm light of the rising sun…

3. Another fort, Föens fortress, much lower in the mountain.

4. I love these high altitude tundra.

5. Another abandoned fort, just beside our bivouac.

6. It’s time to break camp.

7. Going down, we find other golden larches…

8. … and a much smoother trail on this side.

9. Föens fortress…

10. … of which we discover part of interior.

11. It’s already time to go home as it’s the end of holidays. Last boondocking under the Galibier Pass. Despite the negative temps, Emile plays with his small cars. 🙂

12. Last sunrays on the surrounding peaks and last image of the season for VivaLaVida.

Thank you for following our few 2021 peregrinations.
It is time for Emile and I to wish you a Happy Christmas! See you next year for new adventures!! 🙂

Fall holidays (3)

1. This high valley of the Clarée is just magnificent at this season!

2. Back from our hike to Long Lake, we still walk along the river.

3. Emile takes the opportunity to play one of his favorite hobbies:

4. … throw stones in the water!

5. I enjoy the superb views over the valley.

6. What a beautiful alpine river!

7. Last look on the way back down to Bardonecchia.

8. Back in Italy, we take a trail to Fort Jafferau, a former Italian fort built at the top of Mount Jafferau, at 9,150 feet elevation.

9. While the west slope climb is steep and requires the use of short gears for several miles, a pipe from VLV’s cooling system cracks, forcing me to stop for two hours to make a makeshift repair. But we still get to the top at the end of the day.

10. As the wind is still blowing strong, we descend a few miles on the other side for the night.

11. The end of the day offers beautiful views.

12. The sun has already set when I light the fire. A red fox comes and watch us from just a few feets away while I cook on the campfire.

13. Dusk…

14. … before a night lulled by the wind.

that’s it for today. I have one last article to be published soon, which will close this 2021 season in VivaLaVida. 🙂

Fall holidays (2)

Continuation of these few days of relaxation and discovery…
1. To descend from Mont-Cenis to Italy, VivaLaVida discovers a trail, an old border road, some passages of which are spectacular.

2. Passage near the pretty little lake of Roterel…

3. … as the sky clears.

4. The larches are already gorgeous with their yellow-orange hue…

5. Turns…

6. Another small lake, Arpon Lake, just after the Italian border.

7. We make a little stop for the lunch…

8. … near a pretty mountain pasture already closed this season.

9. While waiting for the grocery store to open – it is closed at nap time – Emile improves his cycling technique! 🙂

10. We take the direction of the upper valley of the Claree via the Col de l’Echelle (Ladder Pass).

11. Wake up at the end of the road on a beautiful fall day ideal for a mountain walk.

12. At 5 years old, Emile is a good walker, 5 or 10 miles uphill doesn’t frighten him!

13. Climb to Long Lake in the midst of the fall colors.

14. Arrival at the lake where the temperature hardly exceeds 32°F.

15. Immaculate tranquility…

16. Break sheltered from the strong North wind.

17. Lac Long in a setting of blueberries reddened by autumn.

18. Meeting with a beautiful cricket a little numb by the cold.

19. Going back down to VivaLaVida

More soon… 🙂

Fall holidays (1)

As Emile is on vacation with me for a week, we decide to go enjoying the fall colors without traveling too far since we only have 5 days to travel. The destination will be the Hautes-Alpes, between France and Italy.
1. After half a day on the road, we arrive in the Mont-Cenis region and its lake at the end of the day.

2. While the weather is fine all along the road, the east wind blows fog from Italy which gradually rises, enveloping VivaLaVida.

3. Climbing up to 2,200 m, we have time to make a shot hike outside the nimbuses.

4. But half an hour later, the fog catches up with us.

5. The time to find a boondocking site for the night and we are isolated by the clouds for a quiet but cool night.

6. The disturbance of the night removed the fog and nicely sprinkled summits with fresh snow.

7. A few openings in the couds let in the light…

8. … and VLV takes the trail again to reach the lake.

9. We take the trail that goes West of the lake…

10. … trail that we couldn’t drive in July, a barrier now blocking access from July 1st to September 15.

11. The showers follow one another and the wind is still blowing strong.

12. But we anyway go for a walk by the lake, just to play with Emile and, for me, to look for some picture composition.

13. …

The continuation of the story in a few days…

Week-end in Haute Savoie

At the end of August, Emile and I are going to spend the weekend in the mountains.
1. Hike to the Col de Balme.

2. We discover a pretty altitude pond…

3. … that cottongrass highlight.

4. Highland…

5. From a ridge, we can see VLV far below…

6. On the ridge…

7. The goal of the hike.

8. Too bad the clouds hid the light…

9. Altitude marsh.

10. On the way back, the clouds set the mood…

11. Reaching VLV for the night.

12. Campfire to prepare diner.

13. A last ray sets the Bossons glacier ablaze in the distance.

14. Red needles of Chamonix in the clouds.

15. Nice viewpoint over the Chamonix valley when we wake up.

16. Picnic near Emosson.

17. Aiguille Verte and the Drus from Emosson.

Some images of other weekends coming soon… 😀

Forced stop and start of the Pyrenees mountains

Today, we continue the road towards the Pyrenees.
After about fourty miles, I take VivaLaVida on the A6 motorway north of Orange. I take its cruising speed – about 65 mph – and I don’t have done 3 miles that a thudding noise intensifies quickly. No doubt, something is wrong with the chassis. I slow down immediately and pull over to the emergency lane. We are less than one mile away from a rest area and I slowly let VLV flow until there at 25 mph. As I go out to try to identify the source of the problem, amazement: 4 of the 8 studs on the left rear wheel are broken, the nuts having obviously disappeared! I take out the 21 socket and see that the 4 remaining nuts are really loose. As I tighten them, a fifth stud breaks. We really almost lost a wheel and I dare not imagine what the consequences could have been, as much for VLV as for other motorway users with an crazy wheel of three feet in diameter and approx. 100 pounds launched at 65 mph..!
This wheel tightened again, we drag ourselves to the next motorway exit 3 miles further. We go to a truck workshop and order a set of 32 studs and 32 nuts from the United States since they are specific to VLV’s 4wd conversion. Chris will send them to us the next morning by Express mail and they will finally arrive on Friday at 4 pm. In the meantime, we reach the “Manon” campgroung in Orang, where we will spend these 5 days of waiting. The swimming pool and the nearby town will somewhat entertain the crew stopped in its trip..!
1. Dinner in the campground…

2. Small compensation. 😉

3. The famous Orange roman theater and its stands.

4. We enjoy the swimming pool.

5. Distractions…

Once VivaLaVida has been repaired, we resume the trip to the Spanish Pyrenees. We get there at the end of the day on a Saturdayand it rains heavily. We stop at the trail that we will drive the next day when it is already almost dark.
6. Colored sunrise while Emile is still sleeping.

7. The trail which oscillates at about 6000 feet above sea level is gorgeous.

8. This is the opportunity to test the Isofix adapter that I made to install Emile’s seat in the front. He is in heaven! 😀

9. View of the plain, far South.

10. VLV is happy to be back on the trail.

11. We discover pretty villages…

12. …and a varied geology.

13. Another of these Pyrenean villages.

14. We reach a high plateau, the Pedró dels Quatre Batlles, after a climb where the 4×4 transmission have been very useful!

15. It blows a very strong wind. Is this why the vegetation takes the form of barkanes ?

16. The mood is beautiful as the sun goes down.

17. Last rays before sunset. The wind will shake us a good part of the night and it will only be 38 F in the morning.

See you soon for the rest.

Italian Alps (2)

1. After the Sommeillier, we reached the Pass delle Finestre. Arrived in late afternoon in a thick fog, we decide to sleep there in the hope of better weather the next day.

2. Early next morning, the fog fell slightly.

3. It gradually dissipates, giving a glimpse of the trail driven the day before.

4. Last switchbacks before the pass.

5. North side.

6. South side.

7. Backlight…

I wanted to continue by the Pass dell Assietta track but a municipal decree forbids access to vehicles from mid-June to mid-September. Undoubtedly the result of intensive attendance in recent years by groups of 10 to 20 4×4 mainly from Germany (these organized tours have become very popular with Germans who don’t have such mountains in their country). Therefore, we descent the southern side of the pass and do to Sestriere where we do some shopping to fill the fridge. Emile chose a succulent sheep’s cheese there after tasting it in the grocery shop!
We go then discover the superb Argentera Valley, still wild on its upper part since a 4×4 is needed to access there.
8. We find a great boondocking spot next to the river.

9. VivaLaVida in the distance.

10. Upper Argentera Valley.

It is already Friday and I decide to cross toward the Pyrenees to enjoy these other mountains, knowing that I will land Emile in Corrèze for the rest of his vacation in two weeks.
11. After half a day on the road, another boondocking spot in la Drôme.

12. Calm sunset atmosphere.

To be followed in the next article. 😉