Days 76 – 79 – What a difference a day makes

Friday 28th September – Monday 1st October

I’m sitting here writing this wearing a hat, down jacket, 2 pairs of socks, slippers and I have a blanket over my legs. It’s a cool 12 degrees c in Gandalf’s not so warm embrace and today it snowed!

It’s hard to explain the change in the weather without pictures but, thanks to the wonders of modern technology I have moved on from daguerreotype and the camera obscura and gone are the days of waiting for my films to be developed at the chemist (younger readers will need this explaining. Older readers will be lost in blissful memory). All this means that the fruits of my trigger happy camera finger can bring you the delights of the Southern French Alps almost as they happen (it would be quicker but I type with one finger). The following is a catch up of 4 days via the medium of photos.

Mr P in summer garb at the end of the Mont Charvin Via Ferrata

Now, admittedly the above photo is actually from Thursday 27th (Fear – Mr P gets philosophical) but is included here because Mrs P took a lot of great photos that day day that I didn’t include. The above is the only one I look brave in.

Leaving Annecy and the trees are starting to take on a distinctly autumn hue

Also, as the end of September fast approaches, the campsites are closing and the few that are open are often pretty much deserted.

We had this campsite entirely to ourselves

We are heading for the Ecrins region where we hope to meet up with some old friends. On the way we pass over the Col du Gallibier, 2,642m,

Looking down from the Col du Gallibier – Anyone for a bike ride?

The Col du Gallibier is famous for 2 things;

The first famous thing is cycling and particularly the Tour de France – Now, I have included a link for those that are interested in the cycling thing but, I disagree with the authors first sentence. He states, ‘Alpe d’Huez is pretty unremarkable…’ The man has clearly never walked more than 5 metres from the road.

Why cycle when you can roller ski the pass?

The second thing the col is famous for and, to my mind, the one that will be forever etched in my memory, is the look of intense concentration on Mrs P’s face as she negotiated the miles of narrow switchbacks.

Are we there yet? Tell me we are nearly there…

As ever, she drove beautifully. Gandalf and I were in the safest of hands.

There are distinct signs of a move to autumn high up as the heather dies back and the Marmots go shopping for their winter coats.

Beautiful autumn colours

It’s ok though. Down in the valleys it is still warm and yesterday we were climbing in T-shirts.

Hot and sunny climbing weather

That was yesterday though. And, what a difference a day makes! The Ecrins is noted for having 300 days a year of sunshine. No one mentioned the nights. Rain and thunder last night and today, Monday 1st October, not only does a North wind dominate but it is also one of the 65 no sunshine days.

Despite the chill breeze Mrs P is keen for a leg stretch and finds us a 2.5 hr walk at around 1,800 m. Great idea Mrs P. I’ll get my shorts and sun hat ready.

Mrs P begins to reconsider going for a nice walk

This is proper autumn stuff.

Beautiful autumn colours and that’s just Mrs P’s outfit

It’s not just the trees that demonstrate it is autumn but there are raspberries ready for picking too…

There were more but I ate them

And then, it started to snow.

What happened to autumn!?

I know, it can snow any time of year in the mountains, but we were in shorts yesterday! I think we have been spoiled by the weather and that this is just a reality check.

By the weekend we will be heading south to warmer climes. Like migratory birds only less environmentally friendly.

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