As we started to explore out from our little home base, we thought it prudent to do some hiking. Chateauroux is nestled between two national parks: Ecrins and Queyras. Both are spectacular and great destinations for recreation during all seasons.
We ventured into Queyras up some roads built for masochistic cyclists, through the village of Ceillac, and to the base of one of many area ski resorts. Up and up switchbacks we went, our destinations the nearby lakes called Miroir and Sainte Anne.
A well-prepared shelter in the woods
Freshly melted water courses down the rocks
Runoff leaves the flats and heads for the twisties
The climb ended up being enough to get our attention; turns out it was a bigger climb than our "standard" hike back home (Mt. Rose), but at a lower elevation, so we didn't have that indicator to clue us in. Upon reaching Miroir, we found it to not be very mirror-ish. Or inviting, for that matter. It was kind of a little puddle, but the setting couldn't be beat.
Competing vegetation at Lac Miroir
We also spotted some pack horses, wandering about as their clients lunched in the shade. We definitely caught the beasts taking in the views, and Murphy couldn't resist saying hi, either.
Not a bad life
She tricked 'em into thinking she had apples or carrots or sugar cubes
We continued on the short traverse between Miroir and St. Anne, and soon found ourselves witness to the sudden, sharp ridgelines that just scream "Alps!" Cresting a small hill and dropping into St. Anne, I couldn't help myself and found the biggest rock around the lake to jump off of. Baptized properly, I was ready to face the return hike.
I spent some effort on this trip making a type of photo that I'm not normally excited about: the venerable panorama. Praise Allah for the superb stitching tools available in photoshop; the sheer enormity of doing this by hand would preclude it altogether. While I'm usually not a fan of panos, the spectacular detail in the rock faces dictated that it be preserved somehow. Thus, massive tasks of data contortion are undertaken, and we're left with files that we can print big enough to cover the side of a barn.
Lac Sainte Anne (click for -much- larger)
Down and down we went, a different way than we ascended. Butterflies flitted amongst us for nearly the entire trip, and the difficult trail was filled with people who didn't necessarily look like outdoor enthusiasts. All shapes, ages, and abilities got out there, and that's pretty awesome.
Enjoying a quiet afternoon
The bottom of the gurgling stream shown above (click for larger, it's another mini-pano)
My back held up okay, except for the times it didn't...undeterred, we figured we'd have a few more hikes in us. This day was a great excursion into a sweet national park, grand excuse for a couple glasses of wine back in Chateauroux!
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