Over the Vercors Plateau, 2009

Day 1, 2 October

The walls echoed the sound of bouncing little rocks. I was on my way to a more horizontal area a few hundreds of meters above me, just beneath a large vertical wall that formed the top of the mountain Roc d’ Ambane. But the path upward was nowhere to be seen and my feet could just hold onto the steep granite, rocks and bush vegetation that somehow could resist gravity. I had my doubts if I could find a place for my tent before dark and to make things worse: the map had fallen off from an elastic cord on my bag. An hour later I retraced the map in the bush vegetation. Just before dark, with burning legs, I found a level surface to stay for the night in the open air.

Shadow hills

Day 2, 3 October

I woke up from a light drizzle that continued half the day. A path led me over the Vercors Plateau for ten kilometers to a water source. Water on the plateau is scarce because there are almost no rivers and every drop of rain immediately goes down into the chalk. I met a couple that showed me on the map the places where to find water. The problem gets worse heading north. Pitched the tent near a small river near Pas de Chabrinel.

Day 3, 4 October

The path went through pine forests. Notice boards warn for water scarcity. At the source of Jasse de la Chau I decided to go to the east edge of the plateau. At Pas de la Ville the track went down for several hundreds of meters to reach a path with the name Sentier du Balcon Est. It took an hour to find a place for my tent. Meanwhile it started to rain heavily.

Day 4, 5 October

A nice upward track to the mountain pass of Quinquambaye. From there the table shaped Mont Aquille could be seen clearly. Down again through a pretty forest of beech and larch, where it started to rain again. Lost my woolen cap, retrieved it. The rain drops became little bags of water. Then something strange happened. Down the river a dog was barking continuously. It seemed to be on the move and suddenly the white animal came running towards me up the mountain. My hart jumped. It was likely that the animal suffered from rabies. Because of the rain clothes I could not find my knife, but the dog ran just straight passed me at two meters distance and then further up the hill.

Leaves, rock, water

It was a hard climb to the Pas de la Aiguille. My spirit was low and the wet Gore-Tex trousers restricted the free movement of my legs. After I reached the pass it took a two hour speed-walk to reach the other side of the plateau. Gale force winds from the east forced me to find a sheltered place over the western edge, which I managed to find in the forest.

Day 5, 6 October

The forest was filled with a cool sunshine. I went further down the path to reach a track that goes all along the west edge of the plateau. Because water was not likely to be found for a considerable stretch, I went to the nearest source behind a little ridge called the Serre Reynier, but I could not find the right track and found water more down the valley where the road begins. I took a while to reach the upper path again. What a great view of the lower valley filled with clouds.

Vanes of a hill


Autumn colours

More mist..

Late in the afternoon I reached the Dent de Die (the tooth of Die) where the track had been vanished by a landslide. It meant the end of a beautiful walk. I had to go down towards the valley to reach the town of Die late in the evening.

Route of the hike. Click to enlarge.