Mercantour Refuge de Nice to Sospel – Day 5

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelThe trail covered with snow on the East side of the Basto.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice to Sospel. Day 5 of 5 crossing the Mercantour National Park.

Today I race with the train

Last day of this crossing of the Mercantour, I’m in rather good conditions, I shall be in Sospel tonight. There I must catch, worst case, the last train to Nice. So arriving with sunset is not an option. And another early start is well advised. Last evening I tell my room-mates:

- I will try my best to be quiet tomorrow morning
- Don’t worry we will wake up early

When I leave at 5.50AM the entire refuge is asleep.
I’m glad I also carried my breakfast all those days and could have it starting this last day.

My first steps are in the night but soon I switch off my headlight and carry on with the dawn.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelOn the way to Baisse de Basto at dawn.

The Lac Niré and upper lakes, on the way to the Baisse de Basto, have all incredible colours.

P1020739Lac Niré.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelFew minutes to sunrise the lakes are silvery.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelDark Esmeralda for the last of the four lakes.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelFew steps to the Baisse de Basto, at sunrise, the lakes get petrol blue.

A lot of snow

As I was already focusing on my arrival in the hot temperature of the afternoon, at Sospel, I forgot that I could still encounter snow along the way. Between 2400m and 2700m, before arriving to the Baisse and for about 1km I move on a layer of cold, nearly iced snow.

P1020811_crAbout 1km of hard snow to cross in the early morning.

Just below the snow section, I can see a first group of several ibex as I go down toward the lac du Basto.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelOne of several ibex I get to see from very close again.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelLac du Basto.

Lets go to the third valley of the day

I cross over the Baisse de Valmasque and I am now in the very special Vallée des Merveilles.

From the very top, I am running down the trail quite fast focussing on the various rocks and steps. In one turn I find myself face to face with a tall ibex. Before I realize it, the animal has moved behind the nearest rock and soon got close to his numerous fellow creatures.

Then I come across some peaceable chamois and keep going half way through the valley before I can see the first of many hikers going up the valley. I have to admit I did not look too much at the various wonders of the valley – I’ll come with a history guide some time later – and rushed, poles’ tips covered (to protect the carved rocks), through the valley.
Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelChamois at the top of the Vallée des Merveilles.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelVallée des Merveilles toward the South.

Last steps in the high mountain

That is it, by leaving the Vallée des Merveilles towards the Pas du Diable, I make my way out of the high and fresh mountains. At this time of the day, I don’t realise I should have refilled with water in the various lakes, even if sheep were just above.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelLac Fourca.

Baisse du Diable, Running into hell

Few hours ago, I was still running over snow, now as I go down the valleys, the temperatures are raising up to 35C in the sun and I’m terribly missing water.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelView South from the Baisse du Diable, the landscape is changing.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelAlpine pasture of the Serre de Macruera.

On the schedule side, it is rather good. The trail is now far from flat but it is rather slick; I can run very long distances and go fast between cols to baisses.

The rocky mountains have transformed into alpine pasture and soon forest is showing further down in the valleys.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelFast trail after the Baisse Cavaline, below the Cime de Raus.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelCol de Raus, Green, Green, Green.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelLes Cavalines on the way to Baisse St-Verran.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelCime de Tuor from the Baisse St-Verran.

I am still on schedule, I can take the heat quite well, but from the l’Aution I start to severely suffer from dehydration. I am miles away from any village and there is not even a lake or known stream around. When I meet hikers that offer me some water, I just can’t say no. That is another 15km that I will run in 35C with only half a liter left.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice Sospell’Authion.

Baisse de Ventarben, Baisse de la Déa… I keep running down toward Sospel. Not only the landscapes but also the sounds have changed with the many crickets in the high grass.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelThe high grass, house of thousands of crickets singing the last track of the trail crossing Mercantour.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelOn the way to Baisse de la Déa.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelSospel is at sight but still a long way to go in one of the hottest day of this summer.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelThe Mercantour National Park border on the side of Sospel.

That is it. I finished crossing the Mercantour National Park. I just need to reach Sospel, still running without water. I am on the famous mountain-bike tracks of Sospel where I use to race and it makes the impression of speed even lower ;-)

When I meet my first inhabitant of Sospel, obviously my first question is, where can I find water? And I go drinking one liter even before I pass the city gate.

Mercantour Refuge de Nice SospelArrived in Sospel, completing the Crossing of the Mercantour National Park in 5 days.

Finally in Sospel, I am completing the crossing of the Mercantour National park, from Allos to Sospel in 5 days. I am very pleased with hundreds of magic images in my mind. I learned a lot again on this trail and this gives me some confidence for the 8 marathons trails I am about to run in China.

The cleaned stats for this last day say: 44,5km, +1860m, -3740m.

Posted in Outdoor, Training
One comment on “Mercantour Refuge de Nice to Sospel – Day 5
  1. Faf says:

    Well done! Wish you the best for China!

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