Day 11: Ceillac to Maljasset
Apparently we are very noisy campers (or maybe it’s the fact that we have “Stayin’ alive” as our alarm clock). We packed up our gear early in the morning and Jasper went off to the bakery to buy bread. When he came back our unfriendly neighbour stuck his head out of the tent, glared at us and muttered ominously in French to person or persons unknown inside the tent, of which we just about caught the angry words “sept heures trente”. He then asked us if we were going to stay long. The whole exchange was just slightly too aggressive to be called passive aggressive. Besides, in what country is seven-thirty considered early for hikers? This was a hikers’ campsite, after all.
The first part of the route almost followed a dirt road. Note the “almost”. They’ve done their best to have a separate, nice path for the GR5 but in practice this meant that we walked for 20 m on a narrow path on the right side of the track, then crossed the track to walk for 20 m on the left side, then crossed again, etc, etc. We just decided to use the track instead. After a steepish climb we reached the beautiful but almost dry Lac Miroir, then there was a more boring bit up a ski slope to reach a second lake, Lac Ste Anne. Great place for lunch but we had to share with the tourist hordes. The zigzag path up to Col Girardin goes over scree. The Col is the boundary between Hautes-Alpes and Alpes de Haute-Provence and also the limit of the Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras. Amazing views almost all the way back to Briançon.
The descent is steep at first across loose scree, but then it flattens out a bit to reach a track junction. The GR5 proper doesn’t actually go to Maljasset itself but we had accommodation booked there in the refuge. So we took the track on the left towards Maljasset. It was steep with lots of loose rocks, but not very far. The refuge itself was along the road and had plenty of room to dry the still-wet tent.