Wednesday, Sept 12th, 2007
Tuesday was a rest day, and breakfast at Le Matefaim was, as expected, minimal, although there must be a good baker in town because the bread was excellent. I told the proprietress that we wouldn't be coming for dinner and then Chris and I set off to look for alternatives. There weren't many, but we found one that looked like it would be OK, and it was. Not great, but certainly OK, and with friendly service and a dog who did a highly skilled imitation of a film-star (photos to follow).
I ordered Magret de Canard, which I like best when it is served with cooking juices (Bratensaetze), but this one came with a creamy mushroom sauce, which was nice but a bit of overkill given the fatty nature of the Magret. In addition, and much to the confusion of the waiter, I shared a Fondue Savoyarde with Christine, which was a mistake. Not because I couldn't eat my part, that wasn't a problem, but rather because it was the worst fondue we have had so far -- they had not managed to get the wine to mix fully with the cheese, and the result was... disappointing. But the Cahors wine was excellent, and everything else (especially the Salade Landaise that Russ and Sally had) was very good. And much, much better than the previous night at Le Matefaim.
In case you are wondering why I am suddenly going into such detail about the food, it is at the request of Lidia, who commented that describing a meal as "excellent" didn't really give her much opportunity for vicarious pleasure!
Today we rose fairly late, both because the hike would be short so there was no hurry, and also because we needed to get lunch from the supermarket and it didn't open until 9.
The first part of the hike was along a road up the valley to the south, then we started climbing steeply, passing a couple of idyllic lakes, before reaching the Col Girardin (2699m) around 2PM. We sat for a while soaking in the wild view across the Maljasset valley, picking out tomorrow's pass.
There were a few clouds around, and a bit of wind, and given the altitude it wasn't warm enough to stay there for very long, so after about 15 minutes we started the steep 800m descent to Maljasset. This was a good test of the various leg injuries of the group, and luckily it seemed as if everyone came down ok, with Russell's knee again being the most problematic.
Maljasset is a classic hamlet: a half-dozen houses, huddled together. Our Refuge for the night seems to be nice enough, although there is a slightly ominous message on a whiteboard: "Depuis 127 jours le bonheur n'est plus dans la vie." Seems like one of those things one shouldn't ask about.
There is no connectivity here, and probably won't be tomorrow either, so it may be a while until you read this.