This was our second hike (and first overnight) in the massif of Chartreuse (French pre-Alps near Grenoble). The beginning of the route passes alongside the monastery of the original order of the Chartreuse monks, which dates back to the 11th century. These same monks create the famous liquor "Chartreuse," which is made from 130 different plants!
Our original plan was to hike to the summit of the Grand Som before spending the night near the Habert de Bovinant (a simple stone hut at 5,400'), but due partly to a late start and leisurely pace, and partly to the foggy conditions (at times the visibility was less than 10 yards), we ended up skipping the loop that leads to the summit and instead hunkering down for the night a few hours early. That said, we met a wonderful French couple, built a fire with them and chatted through the evening. They shared the delicious food and beverages that apparently constitute a French mountain meal.
Comparison of our respective dinners:
Ours - Thai soup (powdered) followed by Thai chicken with rice (freezdried) and topped off with sweet and salty trail mix - ours was tasty and lightweight, but paled in comparison with the French version.
Theirs - Before building the fire they ate brioche with praliné (local speciality) and dark chocolate with sesame. This was paired with a homemade aperitif infused with a rare mountain flower, which had been plucked by hand in a secret spot high on a cliff by our new French friend. Once the fire was going they moved on to saussison sec (like a delicious French salami), two different, hard cheeses and local bread. Their actual dinner consisted of fresh mini ravioli in a rich cheese sauce (of course made by melting a real hunk of local cheese). This looked so good, I was willing to try it even after brushing my teeth and it was so tasty I recommended lenna do the same. She "tried" it more than once.
The next morning, after some intermittent rain, the fog cleared a bit and we were able to see some of our surroundings (see photos). We could have finished the summit loop after breakfast, but we had a three-hour drive to Aix-en-Provence ahead of us and the descent to the car would also take a couple of hours.
Needless to say, we plan on making it to the top of the Grand Som on another trip to the area when the weather conditions are more conducive to the steep alpine trails. Low visibility and wet/slippery limestone is not ideal for such a demanding ascent...
Enjoy the photos and come visit us in Lyon to see these landscapes and views in person!
Gabriel & Lenna