Hiking the GR5 from St Gingolph to Menton

15 days. 600 kilometres. A hike across the Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean in July 2012.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 13 - Rimplas to La Madone de Fenestre

Distance: 35km, Ascent: 2770m, Descent: 1900m, Time: 12h05m
GR5 - Day 13

Day 13.  Little did I know at the time, but this day would turn out to give the most climbing of any on the trip with 2773 metres, according to my Suunto X6HR.

For the first couple of hours, the trail fiddled along close to the towns of La Bolline and La Roche to St Dalmas, where there was the first decent supermarket and patisserie for quite a few days. I stocked up as best I could, and then departed the GR5 to take the wilder GR52 which heads north into the Mercantour National Park. I stomped out a good pace on the 900m climb to Col de Veillos 2194m, but then made a faux pas by not consulting the map, and went straight over the col on the obvious path. Luckily I checked the guidebook before too long, and realised I would need to back track to the col to get back on the proper trail.

Col du Barn 2452m was the next high pass, and this lead into a whole new much wilder landscape reminiscent of northern Corsica. Just after the Vacherie du Collet I stopped briefly for lunch before crossing the Col de Salese and picking up the rough trail down to Le Boreon. The last couple of kilometres were on road. I had vaguely thought about stopping at Le Boreon, but it was still early enough to keep going (just after 2.30pm), so I pressed on feeling slightly apprehensive that it would be getting late soon.

As I climbed to Pas des Ladres 2448m in misty deteriorating conditions, the feeling of being the only person left on the hill added a sense of urgency.  A few chamoises scattered as I reached the col. I pulled on a pertex the wind was getting up, and I was getting quite chilled. The descent to La Madone de Fenestre was pretty straightforward, but I was pretty nervous when I arrived that the place looked mobbed, and I had no backup plan if they turned me away.

Luckily they did have space, and within 10 minutes, I'd found a mattress in a quiet corner upstairs, and was seated in the dining area with endless food and drink being brought to the table.

View GR5 - Stage 13 in a larger map

Stage 13 - Rimplas to Madone de Fenetre

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