Les Granges de la Vallée Étroite to Plampinet

There were quite a few people staying at the refuge last night. The most notable character was Alex, who works 5 months of the year in the Caribbean and wanders the world for the rest of the time. His current wandering was taking him along the GR5 from lake Geneva to the Med. He was alone but apparently needed to be constantly talking to people, so he went from person to person engaging them in a slightly intense way. Perhaps choosing the most mountainous part of Europe to walk 500 miles isn’t a sign of a well balanced mind after all.

There were about 15 of us in the dormitory. Sometimes there is a kind of wordless argument about whether windows should be open or shut. Unfortunately, last night the teenage girls won and opted for sleeping in a suffocating furnace. Against the odds, we survived the night and were ready for the day, a day of cloudless blue skies.

A steep climb zig zagged up through trees, with good views through the trees of where we had descended yesterday.

Looking at where we had come from yesterday with the hamlet we stayed in at the bottom
The Three Magi

The path reached a grassy plateau and there was pleasant walking on the flat (or what passes for flat in these parts). The day was not going to be particularly long and we were feeling strong and the weather was perfect so we decided to climb the Aiguille Rouge en route. I think there are several mountains of that name in France and this is one of the less famous ones, but still an impressive peak.

Aiguille Rouge
From the other side: the way up is via the left flank

The way was steep, particularly near the top, and as we were going to have to come down the same way, a certain amount of anxiety built about how feasible that was going to be. Eventually we stood on the top which was marked by a cross. There were other people there but not a huge amount of room and impressive drops all round. Wonderful views all round, and well worth the effort.

Descent was slow and cautious but without significant difficulty. When we had got off the summit slopes there was no need to retrace our steps all the way back to the GR5. Instead it was possible to follow a path straight down to Plampinet. It was a long way down and steep, long enough and steep enough to warrant a preemptive ibuprofen.

Eventually down in the valley, we just had a mile and half or so to go to get to Plampinet. It looked like a pleasant gentle stroll beside a river on the map. Unfortunately at a number of places large landslides had destroyed the path, and we had to clamber over teetering piles of scree.

But got here in the end. It’s a tiny village with a 16th century church and a friendly place to stay, where somehow we have acquired a bedroom rather than a dormitory.

Plampinet with Aiguille Rouge in the background

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