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August 29th
St Dalmas-Lac de Fenestre
Daily Mileage: 19.3mi/31km
Approx Total Mileage: 348mi/560km
Campsite Elevation: 7495ft/2284m

As I packed up this morning, I couldn’t find my sunglasses, ugh! I just had them yesterday in town. I looked everywhere I’d been and then checked the grocery store on the way out of town. I found them on the display with other sunglasses for sale. Whew, close one. I swear, me and sunglasses…

I got going a bit later than I’d have liked at 8:15am. I wasn’t sure how far I’d go today, but I knew rain was possible tomorrow, so the more I could do today, the better. This is the final stretch of four or five days to the the Mediterranean. There are two options to finish the GR5 to the Mediterranean. The most basic and quickest, is to finish in Nice. The way most choose is the more scenic and physically demanding variant on the GR52, which takes a day or two longer, and goes through Mercantour National Park. That’s the route I’ve chosen. On the way out of town, I saw an entertaining sign, but it was the translation that gave me pause. When I typed it into my Google Translate, it came out odd. Anyone know enough French to explain this one? Google Translate says, “Every day we move around be so loves don’t make your needs in this pretty little corner”

The day started started with hours of gradual climbing up to Col du Barn. Again everything is dried out and brown as it’s the end of summer. The lakes were even low. It does take some away from the scenery for me since I do like green so much. 

Then a nice view as I looked ahead and entered Mercantour National Park. 

I dropped just as much as I’d just climbed after the col. Much of the day was less eventful than hoped and in the woods. With cooler weather and a bit more rest yesterday, I was feeling really refreshed. My legs felt like they could run up the hills and I was so relieved to have them energized today. The last few days, the heat has made them pretty lethargic. I was flying uphill today in the cooler weather and was loving having the mountain air back. 

Clouds built for the daily afternoon chance of rain. It got pretty dark at 4pm when I got to Refuge de Saladin. I asked the people working there about the weather since I was headed up for a couple more hours, and they gave the go ahead thankfully. The guy working there was quite spunky and even brought me a shot of whiskey or something he said would get me up over the pass quicker. Entertaining, but I passed, ha. 

I got to Lac de Trécolpas, and many people there waiting to camp for the night. The rule is to wait until 7pm to set up tents in the park. I was glad I had planned to hike on. It was really busy for a Tuesday night. 

Lac de Trécolpas

I climbed up to Pas des Ladres, and had an option to add on another pass that looks into Italy with more climbing and another 45mins. The weather was great and cool, and the scenery was awesome, so I went on up and added in Col de Fenestre. 

Pas des Ladres

Looking back as I climbed up.

The photos today just weren’t doing justice to it all. I don’t know if it was the overcast skies or the yellow and brown colors, but it was much grander than the photos are showing and I really enjoyed it. Some days I just feel like I’m flying along the trail and today was one of them. It felt awesome!

I was so glad I added on the extra climb to Col de Fenestre. The views were great and there were a ton of what I think are chamois. Kinda a mix of a deer and an antelope. I did my best to get photos, but have a terrible zoom quality on my phone compared to a camera. 

A bunch of chamois.

Looking into Italy from Col de Fenestre.

I was excited I could see the lake I wanted to camp at below, Fenestre Lake. It was much quieter on this side and more chamois were all over the place. 

Loving the evening views!

Just one family was camping by the lake. They were really nice and immediately handed me chocolate as I walked up at 6:15pm. It was a bit tough to find a spot that wasn’t rocky, but I found one just a bit from the lake, and this is one of my favorite spots of the summer! Again, tough to capture the grandness of it all, but watching the clouds and sun effects on the mountains as I ate dinner was a great way to end the day. 

I know my mileage isn’t huge today, but I knew I was flying and that there had been a lot of elevation gain. I added it up, and it was just over 8000ft/2438m of ascent. That may be the most I did in a day this summer. I’m sure I’ll feel it tomorrow, but I feel awesome today. It was good to get over the col and go further today knowing it may rain tomorrow. If the rain is bad, my plan is to stop in one of the many refuges I’ll be passing tomorrow, and wait it out. I have time and want to see what I came all the way out here for.  I did lose something today sadly. This one isn’t my fault if you ask me. At the end of the day, I noticed one of the strings on a zipper pocket on my hip belt had come untied. Sadly, it was the one I keep my mini thermometer on, darn! I’ll have to get another one when I get home. Not my fault this time!

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