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May so far in the Forces-of-Nature Diaries
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Member#: 6644
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Registered: 27-05-2007
Diary Entries: 1910

15th March 2020
Hiking - Walking: Top to bottom at Margeriaz
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Weather: sunny
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Distance Covered: 5.10 miles (Nautical Miles - unless stated otherwise)

Sunday 15th March – snow shoe ***** Top to bottom at Margeriaz – sunny:)


The whole world has gone mad, one minute all the French ski resorts are open then late last night we learned they are all closed! This doesn’t really affect us as its too warm for decent snow at the altitude we are at so we can get away from the crowds on our snow shoes but will defiantly look into getting set up for ski touring for next winter! Woke to a crystal-clear sky and with temperatures up here reaching a balmy 13 degrees we are set for the perfect day to walk to Mont Margeriaz at 1845m. Because the lifts are shut, we had a very quiet start both doing our exercises in the lovely mountain sunshine before the ski tourers and snow shoers started to arrive, then after breakfast we set off for the ascent to the top! We have never walked to the top here before as we hired our first ever snow shoes here and took the chair lift but we are seasoned mountain hikers now so it should be hopefully no problem! We walk past the huskies; the lower car park is now pretty full and up to the end button lift where the Ski de randonnee and Sentier racquettes path is well marked through the very pretty woods although because the lifts are not working lots of others choose to walk up the piste. It is much prettier and quieter in the woods as we climb up and with our back step up on our snow shoes walking up is no problem. On leaving the woods and coming out into the open, you can see the whole resort to the right. It is sad that the lifts are not working on such a lovely day but it is busy with people slowly making their way to the top. Reaching the ridge is always a wonderful moment here as it offers on of the best views in the whole of the Alps, a vast green deep valley stretching down towards Chambery in front while the high Alps form a back drop to the rear:) There is a photo opportunity every few minutes as we follow as closely as possible to the edge of the ridge. All the time Alpine Chuffs show off their flying skills looking for tit bits left from the many picnics taking place all along the ridge:) It is a long steady climb to the very top but we stop just short for our picnic and try to get out of the cool breeze blowing up from the valley, I have my shorts on and was down to my t-shirt at one point but the fleece is back on along the ridge! We shared some scraps with the chuffs who come in very close – they are really beautiful birds, sleek black with bright yellow beaks and red legs:) It was only a short way to the summit marked by a x in a small block of concrete. Then its past the three difficult button lifts to where there is another path taking you down. This is the steep end of the resort and as we approached where the path should be there didn’t look much sign of one? But there it was a narrow two feet wide flat track across the very steep snowy slope made by ski tourers coming up. It was only just wide enough for snow shoes and we gingerly made our way down in a series of zig zags. We were entertained by a couple of young snow shoers sliding down on their bottoms under the button lift, in fact most of the other mountain users found an easier route down and we only saw one ski tourer heading up during our whole descent! It was great fun especially when we reached the trees and had to take small steps on the steep sections with the snow very slushy! We could see the resort car park far below and it took an absolute age to reach it! In the end we survived the descent of death and walked across the front of the resort restaurant which should have been bursting with people enjoying a beer after a great days skiing, this corona virus has a lot to answer for!!!! We were very relieved to get back to the van absolutely knackered having been out for 5 hours covering 5.10 miles with some mega up and down!! My face shows I have also caught quite a bit of sun today!!! The cuppa and top almond cake we bought yesterday went down very well. This will be our last of six lovely nights spent in one of our favourite little ski resorts. They are so friendly too and have left some nice comments on my Facebook posts :) We will start to head north tomorrow and hope the shuttle is still operating on March 24th for our return to the UK. From what we have heard of home with its panic buying and self-isolation we would be better off up in the mountains!!!


Photo Gallery Here


Monday 16th March – sightseeing travel – sunny and warm.


In a worsening situation we have had a rethink and have decided to come home early. Mag rang Euro Tunnel and rearranged our crossing for this Wednesday with no extra cost. We could have had any time for that day, there are very few people travelling by the look of things! It will be very sad to leave our much-loved mountains especially as there is a week of good weather forecast, but we could not relax thinking they could close the border at any time leaving us stranded in France for months! With a lovely warm sunny day, we are not in any hurry to leave the lovely but spookily quiet Margeriaz. We did our exercises, had breakfast, packed the van, take one last pic and head off at 10.50. The road to Lac Annecy is peaceful and beautiful but we get a rude awakening stopping at Lidl to stock up for a few days. With the car park full and the shelves running low we had a big queue to pay as people were getting trollies full of stuff with not enough staff on the till. We feel sorry for all the poor retail staff in the front line with this dreadful virus, but at least they had their latex gloves on! Then as we were leaving, they were limiting the number allowed into the shop and a big queue soon formed outside, at least everyone stayed calm! We then drive to a supermarket for fresh milk and bread and to fill up with diesel and things seemed much calmer there. Then being lunch time, we drive the short distance to St Jorioz, made a ham baguette and eat it by the stunning calm waters of the Lac:) We had messaged family and friends about our early return to the UK and by and large most were relieved we were coming home. Our son spent us a link to a tweet from Andrew Neil who said that French were introducing some draconian measures this Wednesday to beat the virus so we have definitely made the right decision! In an unusual step for us we will take the toll motorway to Calais but for today we enjoyed the smaller roads as we ambled through the mountains stopping at Nantua for a cuppa and cake. Then taking the road to Bourg-en- Bresse we head to one of our overnight stops - a small paraglider car park offering stunning views down to the Gorge de L’Ain and are treated to a lovely sunset:)
So this ends our winter adventure in the French mountains, the weather has been mixed to say the least, having all sorts, snow, torrential rain and beautiful sunny days. It’s been a little warm to do a lot of skiing, especially with the resorts we like being particularly low, but to be honest we prefer to get away from the crowds and much prefer hiking and snow shoeing to downhill skiing and we will defiantly look into getting ski touring gear for next year. We still can’t believe we can explore the mountains as we do especially as we have had some health issues of late but while we can we will go on climbing mountains!!! So, of the 26 days we have been in France we have skied 3 times, snow shoed 5 times and walked/hiked 11 times so despite the poor old van breaking down we have had a great time with many tales to tell and even more photos to show!!!!
Now looking forward to self-isolating on the foil on the river Orwell!!!


Tuesday 17th March – travel home :)


We very rarely use expensive French toll roads but we need to get home quickly so use them all the way to Calais and although it cost use 80 Euros it was worth every penny cutting the 2/3-day journey down to 6 hours. We will defiantly use them every time now especially with the French reducing the speed limit on single lane roads to 50 km an hour which makes driving in France exhausting as you spend more time looking at the speedo than the road ahead, oh for cruise control on the van! Mag phoned the shuttle to get our crossing changed but they said they were all sold out and that we would be turned away! We made such good time and we didn’t want to risk another night in France that we took a chance and went to see if we could get across today. We had seen very few UK cars on the road so we hoped to be lucky. There was little traffic queuing and were very relieved to be put onto the 7.20 train and parked up in the carpark to wait. The lady in the entry booth then said we could go through and we actually put on a train an hour early! So, after filling up with diesel on leaving the shuttle we made it home in good time on the two worst roads in the UK the M25 and A12!




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TSL snow shoe  Approach 226

 

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