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.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 8 - Refuge I Re Magi to Briancon

Distance: 43km, Ascent: 2060m, Descent: 2580m, Time: 12h30m
GR5 - Day 8

Day 8, I was up and away super-early, leaving Refuge I Re Magi at 5:48am in semi-darkness. Steep zig-zags, then easier trail lead to Col des Thures, 2194m, then after a short grassy descent I decided to take the scenic high-level GR5B trail, that picks up the Italian frontier, and briefly drops into Italy.

The trail through some quite wild and rocky terrain before reaching Col de Pertusa 2300m, where I descended back into France. The Chalets des Acles didn't provide a very inspiring lunchstop, so I just kept pressing on to the twin passes of Col de Dormillouse and Col de la Lauze. Descending towards Montgenevre, I was struggling to catch a hiker, until I realised the guy was running. So I needed to start running to close him down, we then jogged together down to Montgenevre where he went off in search of his friends who he seemed to have lost on the hill.

From Montgenevre to Briancon I didn't have any proper maps, so was really struggling to find the right trail, and made a bit of a faux pas by staying high on a mountain bike route, then took me into endless infuriating shallow zig-zags that were impossible to cut through impenetrable forest.

Eventually I exited these zig-zags, but there was still a bit of a hike to go before I reached the dramatic gorge and tiny bridge (Pont d'Asfeld) leading across to the fortified Cite Vauban towering over Briancon.

I dropped down to Briancon and found the first proper looking hotel: Parc Hotel pretty much right in the centre of the town.  The hotel was expensive, but clean with a huge room, and I really didn't have the energy to hunt around for anywhere else, having been on the go for 12 and half hours.

View GR5 - Stage 8 in a larger map

Stage 8 - Refuge I Re Magi to Briancon

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