Day 2: Refuge du Col du Palet to Refuge de la Leisse
This was probably the coldest, rainiest day on the entire GR5. During breakfast we could hardly see the Col du Palet. Usually we hike in shorts no matter the weather but that just wasn’t possible. So we wore longjohns under our shorts and rain trousers and gaiters over them. Plus gloves and rainjackets. After a short climb to the Col there was a boring descent into Val Claret, a ghastly ski resort. We waited there a bit to see if the weather cleared up and started hiking again once a nice big blue patch of sky appeared. Unfortunately this disappeared less than ten minutes later and we were once again hiking in the rain.
At Col du Palet the GR5 actually goes east but we went south instead to hike the GR55 through the Vanoise. The two meet up again in Modane. The GR55 through the Vanoise is one of many possible GR5 variants along the way.
Anyway, from Val Claret you climb up to the Col de la Leisse, entering the Parc National de la Vanoise along the way. Good thing too, because the lower slopes are ski slopes. According to the guidebook, the scenery is amazing with stunning views. We mostly saw clouds. What started out as rain became horizontal rain, then snow as we reached the col. We really need some lunch but of course the food is somewhere deep inside my back. I rummaged around quickly and managed to extract a pack of tortilla wraps but no peanut butter because I didn’t want to search around the inside of my pack for too long in the snow. Lesson learned: always keep a meal in one of the outside pockets of your pack.
We ate while walking because it was cold and wet. And muddy, we learned as we descended down from the col. Luckily the Refuge de la Leisse was not too far away. We decided to start with short days. There was hardly anyone in the refuge, which means we had first pick for our beds and could claim an entire table for our Monopoly game (the refuge had the Monopoly, we did not drag it along, we’re not that stupid). We also taught another couple how to make origami dinosaurs. Seriously, how can you start on a long-distance hike without knowing how to make an origami dinosaur?
Dinner was polenta (sigh) with an omelette for me. Luckily the chickens felt up to laying eggs.