Near St Maur-Démant Torrent
Daily Mileage: 18.6mi/30km
Approx Total Mileage: 308.2mi/496km
Campsite Elevation: 5961ft/1817m
Today was just a hot day. It was a t-shirt and shorts night with how warm it was. When I got going at 7:30am, the sun was quickly on my morning climb that was quite steep and also forested. It made for an unenjoyable start to the day, but I was in the modern ski village of Auron in just over an hour.
I went to the grocery store and got food for the next day and a bonus breakfast of a sandwich, peach ice tea (my new craving on hot days), a fruit cup, and pudding cups of course. I knew I had a hot climb to follow, but it seemed gradual, so I downed three of the four pudding cups, which are much more satisfying than the chocolate mousse ones. I sat at the visitors center and used the wifi to post the blog while I ate. After 1.5hrs in Auron, I was back on trail and into the heat.
Looking back on the day, it felt like most of it was spent climbing, but I think that’s because it takes longer to climb and I tend to get down the descents quite quickly. Now that I’ve calculated it, I see that it was a fair amount at about 6000ft/1829m of ascent. That and the heat just made for an uncomfortable day. It was 90F/32C when I left Auron.
I hiked a couple hours up over a col and down to the hamlet of Roya where I found a shaded spot by a stream to have lunch before the next three hour climb. Nothing beats my daily raspberry lemonade (I’ve brought over from the US!) on a hot day!
The afternoon was just one long hot climb. I used the umbrella for much of the climb that was very exposed with no shade at all. Thankfully, a breeze kicked in and temperatures dropped a bit as I went higher.
Now I know why the guidebook says that most would want to stop at Roya and do the climb in the morning. The only other pair I met this morning doing the GR5 was stopping in Roya and I remembered thinking that seemed so early to stop. Now I get it. It was also drier with fewer water options than usual, but thankfully I grabbed extra water anticipating the heat and extra thirst. I feel like I would have a completely different opinion of this climb if it wasn’t so hot and sunny.
Once at the top of the climb at La Stèle Valette, there was a full panoramic view that was quite nice. It was hazy from the heat, but there may have been a chance to see the Mediterranean. I didn’t see it. I’m getting closer!
The descent was a wonderfully gradual one that was wide open and very welcomed.
At 5:30pm, I finally got to a water source, the Torrent Démant, and decided it was a good spot to stop. My goal is to make it to a village for the night tomorrow night, and this positions me within that goal. I was tempted to go further, but this spot was too good to pass up. There were few shaded areas and I’m right near a stream, so I grabbed it. It felt great to wash off all the salt and sweat. Also, I’m just barely in the national park, and it’s a well hidden spot in a remote area (I saw few people today) so I was able to setup before the restricted 7pm rule figuring no one was around, and if they were, they wouldn’t see me.
Always a worry, are sheep. They seem to come out of nowhere over a hillside as they are herded each night and morning. I see droppings around to indicate it’s possible, but it seemed few enough that I’d be safe. Then at 7:30pm, a herd was being brought over the far hill. I could even hear the bells over the white noise of the stream, and I got worried. Thankfully, it seems they’ve been taken downstream from me. I’m looking forward to a more downhill day tomorrow and a shower! It’s still quite warm out as it’s getting dark.