Wednesday, 28 November 2012

We plan a bushwalk and end up in the snow!

Tuesday 27 November

We seem to have had a very wet night with a thunderstorm in the distance.  At least, when I wake up in the middle of the night I see lightning in the foothills and I hear the rain coming down.  Best try and go back to sleep again.

Still, I wake up at 6am and get out of bed.  No use trying to go back to sleep yet again.  And no, I'm not going to say a word about those blasted beds...

After a shower and breakfast the sun shows itself for a few seconds, but it is still a bit damp outside.  We spend the morning keeping ourselves busy with this and that.  Towards lunchtime it's dry outside and we plan to try this bushwalk again after lunch.

No good.  As soon as we leave the driveway the first drops fall again.  A well, we can go for a drive instead.  Anything better than staying inside all day.  We first make our way towards St Marcellin.  We have a good detailed map and find the scenic way towards this little town.  Next we cross the Isere River and drive to La Balme de Rencurel via Pont en Royans and Choranche. (We would have loved to visit the caves here, but not in this kind of weather...)  We seem to be getting closer to the foothills of the Alpes.  It's a beautiful trip and indeed a scenic one as mentioned on the map, although most of the picturesque valleys are hidden by the low hanging clouds.

Most of the pictures are taken through the windscreen, because it's raining too much to try and go outside the car.  We like to avoid the main roads and so far we have stayed on secondary roads, however, the road from here to St Gervais is going to be even less than that.  We decide to give it a try, but at times it is pretty hairy.  Many hairpin bends and steep slopes on 'my' side of the road.  Mostly only room for one car, so I am constantly keeping my fingers crossed that we won't meet a car that is coming the opposite way. A lot of water is coming down the mountains after a few days of rain and the rivers are running fast.

Then we pass through a gorge with very little room on either side of the road and overhanging rocks:

There are also plenty of tunnels.  Some wider and lighted.  Some dark and so narrow that there's only room for one vehicle at the time:

From a great distance we have seen snow in the mountains, but not for one minute had we expected to go that high.  Well, life is full of surprises....  After a while we get to a meadow that has had a light sprinkling of snow.  See the picture and look at the meadow above the roof of the house:

And before we know it everything around us is white and we are driving through sleet instead of rain.

It is a beautiful sight, but we are glad that the roads at least are free of snow, because we don't have snow chains in the car (we think).  After a while we get to one of the very narrow gorges again and from here we are going downhill, meaning that it's the end of snow range. One last tunnel (the darkest and narrowest one) and from then on winding road until we arrive at St Gervais.

Here we cross the river Isere again and drive home via Vinay and another scenic drive (hidden in the clouds and mist) until we are back home some three hours later.  Well, it was an afternoon well spent and the rain didn't even bother us.

At home we enjoy a nice cup of coffee and afterwards I work my way through an avalanche of email messages that have accumulated over the last few weeks.

I hope you have enjoyed our little tour through the mountains.

See you later.

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