Day 8 Tuesday 23 August Arolla to Le Sage

Today I will be walking through a very different landscape compared through the desolate, high altitude glacier wrought boulder fields of the last day and a half. The route descends alongside the wooded valley of la Borgne d’Arolla to the village of Les Hauderes before climbing a little way up the mountainside to La Sage. The narrow valley is dominated by the Pigne d’Arolla at top

The village itself was small, mainly set on one road. I left the village by a path that climbed up the hill next to the dortoir. This passed between chalets to cross a field and enter a wood. Like all the forests on this walk the trees were mainly larch and spread apart so there was undergrowth between them. They are much more pleasant to walk through than the Forestry Commission plantations in the UK

I came to a path junction inviting me to take the chemin difficile to Lac Bleu (as recommended by Kev Reynolds) or a more easy route. As this was meant to be a leisurely day I chose the latter which had the advantage of no scrambling across steep slopes but the disadvantage that it remained in the forest so views were limited. The path descended through the wood. There were alternating shafts of sunshine separated by the shadows of the tree trunks which made for relaxing walking. Every so often there were good views across the valley. The path continued to drop until it met a track just above the valley road. It then climbed again through woodland, becoming steep to climb up alongside a waterfall until it met the high path.. After a further gentle climb I arrived at the idyllic Lac Bleu

I had plenty of time today so I spent and hour and a half relaxing by the lake This was a popular spot for a day walk so, as the morning wore on, more people came up to enjoy this beautiful setting.

Eventually it was time to move on so I reluctantly set off downhill back into the woodland and came to the hamlet of La Gouille

Just below the hamlet I rejoined the road, where there was a car park for day walkers. I followed the road for a couple of hundred metres before turning off on to a track. This re-entered woodland and then descended, not particulaly interestingly, to the village of Les Hauderes. At one point there was a clearing and I could see the village with La Sage and La Forclaz on the hillside in the distance.

Looking down on Les Hauderes with La Forclaz (on the right) and La Sage (on the left) on the hillside behind

By the time I got to Les Hauderes I was hot and thirsty and I had drunk all my water. As is common in most western European countries, it was siesta time and the village shop and bar were shut. Fortunately, most of the villages and hamlets have a water trough for animals fed by a spout taking water from a local stream. These are often present in small hamlets as well, even when there is only a small collection of chalets.

There was a notice informing me the water is safe to drink

I quenched my thirst and refilled my water bottles. The water was cold and delicious. I have never been ill drinking from fast flowing high mountain streams or these spouts but I suppose I should add that you can get ill (sometimes from the high mineral content) so one should consider purification tablets or portable filters, you never know what is lying in the river out of sight upstream!

I joined the path to La Sage but there was a sign informing me the path was closed. I think it was only closed at night (my French is not very good) but I did not want to climb the best part of 300m only to have to turn round. I therefore took the path across fields to La Forclaz. It was haymaking time. While a truck was picking up the cut grass it was being cut with a hand held mower and other men and women were raking up the cuttings by hand with large wooden rakes into piles to be picked up by the truck

Hay making below the huts of La Forclaz

I walked between the chalets to a metalled road in the village and now I had a gentle 1 km walk down the road into La Sage and the Gite Ecureil. I had one of my nicest suppers here; it included freshwater fish ceviche which I was not expecting in the middle of the alps. I also had my own room but I missed the camaraderie of the huts.

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