You must have been thinking: is the Moose still alive?
Yep he certainly is and he has done some great hikes in France in June/July which he would like to show off to you. So here we go. This first hike is done in the Chartreuse, which is just north of Grenoble.
Good to know:
Distance: 6 kms
Rate: moderate (part I, 5 km), difficult (part II)
Map (incl. elevation information): Le Cirque de Saint-Meme
GPS-track available for download: yes (partly)
As always photo's can be enlarged by clicking on them.
This track goes to a beautiful waterfall called the Grand Cascade (part I: doable for all hikers among us) and for those who are more adventurous, part II is a small but not easy detour by climbing up alongside one of the waterfalls, crawl into an opening in the rocks and then finally enter into an enormous cave. Our GPS got confused between the rockformations, so therefore only part I is available for the GPS.
Part II we will try to explain by text and our pictures; especially where to start this Part II is a bit tricky. It tooks us quiet a while to figure it out.
Park at the parking lot of Cirque de Saint-meme. We must warn you that it can be very crowded here in high season; as soon as you see the parkinglot you will understand how crowded it can be. Therefore the last few kilometers by car are subject to toll (only in peakseason)
Walk towards the Auberge and pass the so-called panneau (information sign). On the first picture, if you enlarge it, you can spot the waterfalls.
After a few hunderd meters turn left into the woods and follow the sign "Grande Cascade". The track goes uphill as you can see in picture two.
Finally you will arrive at a crossing with a signpost directing you to the right, towards the Grand Cascade. Mind this spot, cause you will have to return here to do Part II of this track. Walk for a few minutes and you will see and hear the Grand Cascade. You can walk downwards a few meters to have an even better view. If you continue this track you will end up at a bridge crossing the water. That path will eventually take you back to the parkinglot. That completes Part I of this track.
If you are up to some excitement, then return to the signpost (at 1050m) and then turn right (if you turn left, you return the way you came). After about 50 meters, and this is important
, you will come to a small crossing with a trail going to the right and a trail just going straight forward. Take the foothpath to the right. This will bring you to a huge pile of stones, which you will have to climb. The Cascades des Sources is now at your righthand side and you have a great view from here towards the valley. Even Elgar made it to this spot...........
Now what....you will surely think. Walk towards the rock face and there you will see an iron cable going up. Follow that cable, no special equipment necessary, just a pair of good hands and.....no fear of heights ofcourse. This so-called Pas Ruat will bring you on top of the waterfall. And then what?
You see this big opening where the water for the waterfall is flowing from? That is where you have to go. There is again a cable to help you get to this "Tunnel de Pas Ruat". It is a natural tunnel and here you will need your hands to climb over the huge rocks here and there. We even had to cross a deep hole which was full with very very very cold water (and had to take off our walkingboots)
When leaving this natural tunnel keep to the right and do not try to get to the Grotte de Guiers Vif by going up the slippery rocks, but instead make use of the iron handles in the rock on your righthand side. Finally you arrive at a 'normal' track again and by turning left here you can go to the cave. It tooks us quite some time to figure out how to get back as we were unable to find a path..........
Return to point with the iron handles. Either go straight up the rock in front of you (by iron handles again) or take the small path a little bit to the left. Follow this track all the way and in the end you will get back to the signpost for the Grand Cascade again. There it is up to you: either take the same path back to the Auberge or go once more to the Grand Cascade and keep following the track downhill. It will lead to a wooden bridge crossing the water and then through the woods back to the Auberge.
Well....wasn't that spectacular.......