Well, sadly, this is the last post from France. Not sadly, we've still got lots of ground to cover.
So on the day of the race, I decided that I didn't quite have the stomach to go spectate/cheer/cryintomybeer, so instead we did the out of sight out of mind thing and headed for the mountains in the Ecrins National Park above Chateauroux. We picked a hike to an infrequently traveled lake called Lac du Distroit, and it ended up being a nearly empty trail, as well. More room for us!
We had also dragged Ethel's mom along with us, who is not a regular hiker. She did, however, keep plugging along, did the entire hike, and (I hope) enjoyed herself, even if she totally worn out the next day. This was certainly the longest and hardest day outside she's ever had, and she was a trooper.
Also, Ed and Beth had just arrived from New York, so it was an easy sell to get them up in the mountains to beat their jetlag.
Ed and Beth shiver together
We made a steep climb up a big cliff face before we topped out into a big lush meadow that also housed this little waterfall. We wound our way through this meadow as the trail meandered from rockpile to creek and vice versa. The trail finally started another big climb, and the horizon line began to suggest that we were nearly to the top.
Lone survivors above treeline
As we neared the top of the last climb, it became apparent that this was cow country; we had passed some structures down below that didn't look too dilapidated, and then we happened upon the herd. These high alpine cows were proof that California's "Happy Cows" campaign is a bunch of crap.
Surveying her kingdom (queendom?)
Murphy gets all Zen
After playing with the cows for a bit, who were totally unbothered by our presence, we hiked the last few minutes to the lake.
Holy epic reflection
Little blue guys
While still inviting and in a blissful setting, Lac du Distroit lacked some of the raw appeal of the High Sierra lakes. We all swam, and life was good.
Lac du Distroit (click for -much- larger) [bonus points for whoever can find Beth...]
The hike back down was a little more relaxed as we were no longer worried about running out of daylight; we'd gotten kind of a late start after settling in to our habit of lazy mornings punctuated by baguettes and coffee.
Love the sharp ridgeline as it wraps around
Beth made a new friend; a butterfly took up residence on the bill of her hat and stayed there for about 3 miles of the trip down. Persistent little bugger! Maybe he just wanted a free ride.
As we approached the bottom, the day was starting to fade, and that presented a couple photo opportunities that weren't prime when we were on the way up, not to mention that I didn't want to be responsible for an early turnaround up top just to ensure that we'd make it back down before dark.
I name thee Vector Falls
Safely back to the trailhead with some day to spare, we lazily retreated back to the house and...big surprise...drank some wine and told stories. We only had another day in France before a huge travel day to Italy, so this was our last big mission and one worth savoring.
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