A winter- and a spring-hike at Les Adrets
When we first arrived here in the French Alps, we often said to each other that we would never re-do one specific hike, because there was so much to do around here. And life is only so long, right? Now that we have been here for five years, we still have only seen a tiny percentage of the trails or tracks here in the mountains, but we have started redoing certain hikes. Oh oh! Most often because we want to show others a specific hike and more recently also because I have started hiking on my own, with friends, and I feel more comfortable following hikes that I have already done. Especially if I’m pretending to be the guide. And those are good reasons to follow the same hike more than once, right? So let me tell you about this hike at Les Adrets. One of the hikes that we have done multiple times in the last couple of years.
Before I start, let me add that I hope that this post will also show you how different seasons can change the scenery and how joyful it is to walk the same walk at different times of the year and see growth (or the lack of it) in all possible stages.
To show this contrast I will post spring and winter images next to each other, so that you can see how they compare. Mind you, the spring images are taken at the beginning of April in 2017, the winter images are shot on 13 February 2018. So basically less than two months apart, if you know what I mean. On one packs of snow, on the other shorts and burnt skin. Weather can change overnight here at the beginning of spring. If you don’t believe it, walk along with me to Les Adrets.
Les Adrets is a small village on the Belledonne mountain range. It’s situated on 700M just below one of the bigger ski-stations around here: Sept Laux. It has a very alp-like feel, in my opinion that is. And because of that, I like visiting the village. To put it even stronger: if it was better connected to the valley, I wouldn’t mind living there either! The image below shows you how the village looks like in spring. The above two images show the same side of the village in winter.
The first time I hiked with Eduard (my usual (trail) buddy) and the second one I hiked with Julie. Julie is a (proud) English friend, who also happens to live in our Gresivaudan valley. I’ve met her at a French conversation group and now we sometimes go out and explore the mountains, with a proper amount of home-baked snacks and humour.
The hikes touch several cols. Both go to Col de la Croix des Adrets, and then the long hike also passes Col des Ayes. The small hike only passes Les Adrets as a village, the long hike goes through Villard Bernard et Villard Chateau as well.
The small hike was 4.08km and had a 180m climb, the big one was 8.19km and had a climb of 370m. So basically it was double the size of the first hike. More detailed information can be found on the map I linked earlier in the text.
Both hikes were without any big difficulties. One tiny problem during the winter hike was, that the paths weren’t properly set out, so we had to do a lot on intuition. (Yes, one could also carry a map, but one already carries cakes instead.) That leg sticking out on the right bottom part of the bigger hike, shows a moment of lack of intuition. But rest assured, Julie made sure we were going to be found – if lost – by drawing out ‘HELP!’ all over forest. Ah well, it’s sometimes hard to find signs underneath all that snow and it was a nice detour in the end!
And maybe it’s also good to mention that this hike is humid in spring, muddy paths are no exception and in winter we had to cross quite some slippery paths (and roads), which did lead to one unfortunate fall. So be ready for some seasonal water related inconveniences.
The views on this hike are striking, but all the trees and plants growing everywhere make this hike even more remarkable. The small (spring) hike is actually a ‘discovery’ route. Along the hike you will find signs that show you what kind of trees grow alongside the route. So that’s fun, but you can also find lots of smaller plants that aren’t mentioned. In spring we found some ramsons and very pretty wild orchids. All the tree seeds also started sprouting, making a brown and green carpet together with the fallen leaves.
On the winter hike we saw young blueberry shoots, remnants of raspberry canes, mistletoe on old trees, hazelnut seed pods and so on.
By approaching Col de la Croix, the two routes of the hikes split up. The short route follows the main road down into the village again. By doing that it passes a totem pole and a very nice view point. As you descent on the main road, you end up in the authentic village for the last part of the walk.
The bigger hike crosses the main street at the first Col and takes a B-route towards the next village. There is no descent at this part. You soon go up a bit more actually to reach the col des Ayes. Before we did our second climb, we fount a bench in the full sun to sit on and to share the things we prepared for each other. After a short break we went on and did the last climb on this hike, this part was set out near habitation, so we could admire houses and enjoy the barking dogs.
We also discovered a new sleighing area. More importantly we also discovered a house. Below you can see the house I signed up for. I haven’t progressed beyond the ‘little house on the prairie’ stage of my life, clearly. I promise you that the back side of this house, is nothing like the barn in the ‘little house on the prairie’. But even if it was, look at this view! Perhaps I do not want to live in that house, but I just want to have this house in my view. Yes, that’s it!
With these beautiful dark woods on our left side, we walked straight back to the church of Les Adrets where our car was parked. After an unfortunate fall and a grateful visit to the public toilets, we drove back to the low valley. It was a beautiful hike, and all with all, these were two beautiful hikes in one. I’m happy to have learned over the years that there is no shame in doing something twice, as every experience offers something new.
Thank you for hiking along with me/us. I hope you enjoyed and I hope that I didn’t confuse you too much by mixing up different seasons in one blog. I think I will do more of these posts, as I do have several hikes that I can show both with and without snow. Feel free to let me know if you would appreciate more posts like this one.