Day 13: Larche to Bousieyas
I woke up on the cold hard ground because all the air had gone out of my sleeping pad. It was the middle of the night but Jasper must’ve noticed me being awake because he asked what was going on.
Bob: I think there’s a leak in my sleeping pad.
FzbL: Oh. *rolls over and goes back to sleep*
Well, thank you for your contribution. Luckily there was no leak; there was just some dirt in the valve so it didn’t close properly. Still. Jasper tried to redeem himself by going to get the bread for breakfast. However, that didn’t work out either because he came back with our No. 1 Nemesis, the Bâtard Complet. This complete bastard of a loaf has haunted us since our 2012 trip to the Écrins, when we bought one of these breads at an artisanal bakery in Venosc before we found the (much nicer and more reasonably priced) bakery in Les Deux Alpes. Thus the Bâtard Complet lay forgotten in our packs, becoming more bricklike every day, until it was the only thing left to eat and we nearly broke our teeth. Cue endless jokes about using it as mallet for tent pegs, to build bridges over mountain streams or as a replacement hiking pole. That was 2012.
The 2016 Bâtard Complet, however, foiled all our efforts at construction and engineering by being soft and surprisingly edible. Cue jokes about us finding the Bâtard Complet complaints department after suffering mishaps due to its lack of rigidity.
Anyway. Larche to Bousieyas.
I started the day wearing sandals to give my feet a break from the hiking boots. The first section was flat along a road. Then we entered the Parc National de Mercantour where you can easily spot marmots because idiot tourists feed them right by the “don’t feed the marmots”-sign. The path became a bit steeper and more rocky, but was still OK for sandals. We met a group of Belgians who were hiking the entire GR5 from the Netherlands. They had done a couple of weeks every summer for years, and this was their last summer. They only had day packs, we noted with some envy. This was because they had a dedicated support team (their wives) who would pick them up at the end of a day and drop them off at the start of the next. Each to their own, of course. I can tell you now it’s hard to feel superior when your feet hurt.
We reached Lac du Lauzanier where we had an early lunch. Thunderclouds were starting to gather above the Pas de la Cavale ahead, so I put my boots back on and we did a bit of speed-hiking. Most of the daytrippers don’t go further than the lake so we left the crowds behind. Basically it was just us and the Belgians, plus a German guy who was hiking at random through the Alps and was pleased to learn he was just a week from Nice.
The thunderclouds loomed ahead but they were nice thunderclouds. They basically hung around to make our photos look dramatic and did not actually release any thunder or rain. The path up to Pas de la Cavale goes across a scree slope but it’s not steep.
The descent on the other side was steep though, but without the imminent threat of a thunderstorm we were able to take our time. There was a final short climb up to Col des Fourches. There’s an asphalt road here full of tourists driving way too fast so beware. After crossing the road we followed the path through some military ruins which looked more suburban than military. The path crossed the road a few times more before reaching Bousieyas, where we stayed at the gîte.
This gîte had the best food along the GR5. Guineafowl for the carnivores and homemade pasta with goat cheese, tomatoes and pesto for me, with chestnut cakes and chocolate ice cream for dessert. The owner also wins the award for most talkative person along the GR5 – throughout dinner she told us the entire history of Bousieyas and everyone who ever lived there. The hamlet has around four buildings so we were quite impressed by the lengthy lecture.