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July so far in the Forces-of-Nature Diaries
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Owner: squiz

Member#: 6644
Registered: 27-05-2007
Diary Entries: 1742

17th February 2019
Skiing: Menthieres
Wind Direction:
Wind Stength:
Surf / Sea State:
Air Temperature:
Sea Temperature:
Weather: sunny and mild
Max Speed: 41.47 (knots - unless stated otherwise)
Distance Covered: 23 miles (Nautical Miles - unless stated otherwise)

Friday 15th February – Travel & two small walks **** Nature reserve at Dolmen Lac and Digoin Prom along Loire - sunny, warm and light airs:).

Great night in the carpark close to Dolmen Lac but woke to a cold frosty morning only just above freezing so it was on with the diesel heater. While Mag read, I went for a chilly misty walk to the small marina in hope of some sunrise pics but by the time the sun had cleared the hill it had gone all watery but it was still very pretty! Mag did her exercises outside again and then after breakfast she spent 15 minutes clearing rubbish left by oafs in the carpark including 18 beer bottle yes 18 just chucked out of a car window not 2 metres from a bin, sadly the world has gone to crap with little respect shown for our beautiful yet fragile planet, we do worry for the future as youngsters especially only think of themselves and what is the sad obsession with alcohol ???? At least the only carton out of the driver’s window was of orange juice!! We then go for a lovely birdwatching stroll around the nature reserve with the high light again being the Night Herons roosting in the trees with their vivid red eyes :) Leaving about midday we took the back way to Chartres with its massive and very impressive Cathedral and onto Orleans, this is not our favourite part of the journey but has to be done! We are too early in the journey to stop at Briare so continue following closely the Loire past our first vineyards with buzzards everywhere. As the countryside becomes rolling with the first sign of large hills in the background, we spot a Hen Harrier as we drive towards Macon. We see French Police with automatic weapons and then our first ‘Yellow Jackets at Decize! We end up parking at Digoin just in time for a quick walk along the river as the sun sets stopping a Great Egret and a Ragadon (Coypu) franticly swimming across the fast-flowing water. We finish off the yummy Lidl lasagne and are a bit surrounded by large white campervans but luckily, we can’t see them from our door especially with the curtains drawn! We might be close enough to reach the snow tomorrow at the very small resort in the Jura called Menthieres as it is the weekend and the bigger resorts are best avoided!

Saturday 16th February – Travel and tiny walks **** Lac Nantua and Menthieres – sunny and warm.

Good night at Digion surrounded by ‘white elephants’ that’s large white campervans to you but most had gone by the time we got up! Another clear blue-sky day with temperatures to 20 degrees and definitely a shorts and t-shirt day, shame I didn’t put them on!!!! Left early for us at 10.30 and headed for Macon and promptly got lost (as we failed to cross the river in the main town) but after a couple of false routes we found the right one to Bourg en Bresse. This is a lovely area to travel through with beautiful rolling green countryside and we played spot the Buzzzard soon getting our first glimpse of the snowy topped Jura mountains:) To reach Nantua you have to go up and over the Gorges de l’Ain where we encounter our first windy mountain roads. There is a steady stream of ski traffic going the other way and the motorway high above Nantua is also going slow. As we are early, I stop at the spot by Lac Nantua where we have spent a couple of nights in the past and spend a lovely hour walking on the prom. Just stunning, vivid blue sky, crystal clear water framed by high rock cliffs with coots and grebes feeding on fish and weed and not showing the slightest interest in the bread being thrown at them by the many locals making the most of the unseasonably warm weather! Next stop, the Lidl at Bellegarde where we fill a trolley that cost 53 Euro’s! All that was left was the 10 Km climb to the tiny ski resort of Menthieres where the carpark was full - not surprising really as it only opens on Wed, Sat & Sun!!! Our little lay-by where we normally, offering amazing snowy views down the valley, was full so we had to wait an hour for the skiers/sledgers to leave before getting prime position and celebrated with a cuppa and our first French bread with jam:) As the sun set over the mountain, we had a quick walk down to the resort before heading back to the van for yummy filled pasta. After three days of travelling it will be good to spend a couple of nights here, hopefully skiing tomorrow before a snowshoe on Monday - then moving up the road to another favourite, Lelex:)

Sunday 17th February – Ski ***** Menthieres – sunny and mild.

5 hours out, 23 miles covered & 41.47 knot max speed.

Top night in our van above the little ski resort of Menthieres in the Jura and woke to another day with not a cloud in the sky and milder too, 3 degrees first thing but it was minus 6 at the top at 1535m. Read, breakfast and then I get the ski gear out of the top box while Mag packs a baguette and I take the team pic at 10.15. It’s then a short walk down to the ticket office and as this tiny resort only opens three days a week there was a bit of a queue but it didn’t take long to buy a couple of lift passes and a bargain it was too, 40 Euro’s for the day including insurance with a 2 Euro reduction for me being over 65! We were on the first and only chair lift up at 10.40. In fact, there is only one other long difficult drag here but it takes you to the Cret des Frasse which gives you a nice choice of reds and blues down. We took it easy for a bit to get our ski legs but I was soon whizzing down with most pistes having good snow and fast too:) After several goes up the long dog leg drag, we started to head down to the bottom through the tree lined gorge to rest on the chair, the only trouble with this is several learners were on this piste! We tried one red turning left half way down which was a big mistake as it turned into a narrow, steep, icy, bumpy piste which was no fun at all, Mag in particular found it hard going on her short blades as they don’t grip in the ice. We didn’t make that mistake again and avoided that run for the rest of the day! At the top there was a little more wind than at the bottom but no where near as bad as it can be in these parts and the view at the top is just fantastic. It was a little hazy down towards Lac Lemon but the line of snowy high Alps stretching as far as the eye can see is particularly impressive:) There is a large wooden cross at the top of the Cret des Frasse which made an ideal spot for our picnic but it did mean ditching the skis and taking a steep scramble up but it was worth it for the amazing views. It was a hive of activity with loads of mainly snow shoers heading to the highest peak in this section of the Jura, the Le Grand Cret d’eau at 1621m, it is a tempting destination for a walk tomorrow but we will probably stay lower and head away from the resort even though it will be quiet as it is shut tomorrow. After lunch with our legs starting to give up on us, we did a few top to bottoms including one which I videoed before calling it a day getting back at the van after 5 hours out for a welcome cuppa and cake, the diet will have to wait! We then enjoyed the warm sunshine for an hour or so, dozing and reading before going for a short walk around the resort as the sun set, a top day and its great to be back up in the mountains and we only heard one other English-speaking family which is always good :)

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