Let the adventure begin
The plan today was to have a nice ride in the morning then saddle up and head of for a night in a refuge and get a good start on tomorrows tour.
Pointe D’Angolon was our morning target, which is not too big a hike, but the first section is steep and despite the excitement, chat went pretty quiet for a while as everyone concentrated on where they were putting their feet. But then a short walk along the ridge and a gorgeously long decent all the way down the Valley de la Manche and popped out just across the road from Chalet Chambertin, which we used as a way station to pack bags check kit and set off. Even though we were on the way to get some Lunch we grabbed some of the night befores leftover alpine supper and charged on.
Initially we only made a short stage up to a mountain restaurant for tartiflette (very nice but not necessarily the best idea before a long hike) before heading off into the wilderness for 2 and a half hours. As night fell we arrived at the refuge de Bostainwhich was not only a welcome sight but nestled as it is in the mountains, buried in snow a truly magical one as well.
Despite some preconceptions of mountain caves and roughing it, the refuge was really nice. There are obviously some considerations to the fact it is literally in the middle of nowhere, only heated by the fire in the main room (i.e none upstairs) and your not allowed to flush paper down the toilet (only in winter, it freezes and blocks the tank) and any rubbish you bring yourself you have to take away with you. It is otherwise very well thought out for the mountain traveller, it has a bar and you get well fed. Beds involve you being friends with your neighbour (3 quad beds in one room) but compared to the bonding experience of steep couloirs and hanging off mountainsides a few smelly feet and Sams ‘purring’ are no chore.
All photos courtesy ofwww.sammellish.co.uk