La Chapelle D’Abondance-Chaux Palin
Daily Mileage: 14.6mi/23.5km
Approx Total Mileage: 25.6mi/41.2km
Campsite Elevation: 6047ft/1843m
As expected, today was a dreary day. There were four other men from France at the gite I stayed at last night that are also doing the GR5. None of use were in a hurry to leave as we ate our continental breakfast. Good news is that there were plenty of options for accommodation along the route today. I left at 9:20am aiming for the furthest option that would also get some of the miles in on tomorrow’s itinerary since the weather looks colder and wetter tomorrow.
Temps hovered in the mid to low 40sF/6C, and there was a permanent fog and light mist. The combination of the two made it just comfortable enough to hike and get warm with movement, but very little incentive to stand still at all. Thankfully, it wasn’t windy. That would have been terrible. The first half of the day was a steady climb before it leveled out pretty much for the afternoon. The total ascent today was 4905ft/1495m.
I used my umbrella most of the day and it really saved the day for me. Even though it was just a light mist or rain most of the day, the umbrella kept my core and head dry. It also seems to keep a little warm space of heat around my head that really helps on these days where the cold just goes right through you. There’s a reason why I hibernate in winters. This cold weather chills me with my little insulation and takes a lot out of me.
Once I made it up the main climb to Les Mattes and went down for the first time, it hit me how cold it was. Whew! The climb had kept me warm, but once over I was totally chilled by my sweat and the fact that it was just cold out. The beanie, buff, and gloves went on.
Since there was no way I was stopping to eat, I snacked as I walked. Around 1:30pm, I reached Col de Bassachaux that had a restaurant from heaven that was well heated and had hot chocolate. Wasn’t it just days ago that I was in terrible heat and desperate for a popsicle or ice cream!? The restaurant was very kind and let me have my hot chocolate inside along with the lunch I had in my bag. The scene could have been mistaken for the winter season with what everyone inside was wearing, the smoke from the fire filling the air, and families with tussled hair from sweating in beanies drying out shoes and clothes by the furnace. All that was missing was the Christmas music.
I don’t think this is uncommon. I am in mountains after all. I know I was super fortunate to dodge this kind of thing in the Pyrenees. I’m making up for it now and will be taking full advantage of having dry warm places to eat and sleep. Very convenient.
The consolation is that I’m in the pasture section at the beginning of this hike as I get closer to the alpine greatness coming very soon. If missed views happen, I guess it’s better here. However, I know I’m missing some great stuff, and that’s a bummer. The guidebook points them out from time to time saying things like “…enjoying wonderful views of the Vallee d’Abondance” and “…enjoying magnificent views of the glaciated Dents Blanches.” There are photos in the guidebook, so I can see what I missed. I know I can’t win them all and I was lucky to get over a month of great days on the Pyrenees hike. I’m due for some fog.
Just after 4pm I arrived at Chaux Palin after a downhill muddy slip-n-slide section through ski areas that are hubs for mountain bikers. Apparently, this area is a highly visited ski and mountain bike area when weather is nice. Chaux Palin is a restaurant and gite (kinda like a hostel). I purposely went further than the end of this leg to land here where I thought there would be nicer accommodation and food and fewer hikers. I’m the only one here! For €30/$33 I get a bed, dinner, and breakfast.
The sleeping area is…rustic. But I’ll take it! It’s like being in a barn with no insulation. They are bare mattresses and you’re expected to bring your own bedding. Since it will be near freezing tonight I’m inflating my sleeping pad and laying it on the mattress for extra warmth.
The gal in charge tonight is nice and quiet and has a music mix playing that’s totally chill and something that I’d love to have. It’s pretty perfect.
I looked up the weather, and damn it’s going to be cold! It might even snow overnight. Tomorrow, it says heavier rain until noon and then lighter rain the rest of the day. The kicker is that it will be 36F/2C tomorrow, brrr! To meet my friends in Chamonix on time, I’d like to at least do three hours tomorrow. I’ll just hang out until noon and see what happens. It still may rain tomorrow night and then it finally clears. It cleared somewhat for moments tonight. It’s so great! It made me think I should have hiked further today, but it was raining pretty good when I arrived. It’s so hard to know. Hoping it improves overnight! I’m off to watch Netflix. I’m almost done with the first season of Ozark. Yep, fully entertained!