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.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 7 - Roc de la Peche to Refuge I Re Magi

Distance: 39km, Ascent: 2220m, Descent: 2370m, Time: 11h00m
GR5 - Day 7

Day 7 began by quietly slipping out of the shared room at Refuge Roc de la Peche, an early breakfast, then a cold dreich departure at 6:23am. Putting on sopping wet freezing cold North Face trail running shoes was not that comfortable. The early part of the trail was straightforward muddy landrover track  Soon after passing the Refuge de Peclet-Polset I spotted several hikers ahead. They provided a useful target as the trail entered a section of large snowfields. I caught the final couple of hikers just before Col de Chaviere 2796m, the highest point on my route. The descent down the far side was pretty steep, but it was possible to descend rocks to the left of the snow. The angle quickly eased, and gave a pleasant route down to Polset.

After Polset the trail became steeper again as the route dropped down to Modane through forest, where I re-joined the GR5 (having been on the GR55 since Val Claret). I stopped for some picnic lunch in the centre of Modane beside the Hotel de Ville before climbing steeply out of the town across the railway and up a trail through the forest which popped out at the Sanctuaire Notre Dame Chapel. I then passed through the utterly deserted ski town of Valfrejus, before the long and not terribly inspiring drag up to Col de la Vallee Etroite, 2434m.

Luckily at this point, the scenery and ambiance took a major turn for the better, and the trail entered a section of perfect alpine meadows surrounded by rocky peaks.  I hadn't 100% decided what I'd do when I reached Les Granges, since there were a couple of alternative routes choices (GR5B and GR5C) shortly afterwards. However just as I reached Refuge I Re Magi the decision was made for me, since the heavens suddenly opened and I got under cover just in time.

There was a very friendly atmosphere at the Refugio with the extrovert Italian staff.  This valley was annexed from Italy into France after WWII, however the locals still quite clearly consider themselves to be Italian.

View GR5 - Stage 7 in a larger map

Stage 7 - Roc de la Peche to Refuge I Re Magi

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