Thursday, 12 August 2010

Lac d’Appy

Back in May I went on a trip to find lake Appy with the French family only to have our path blocked by a large white guard/sheep dog

(Originally from Tibet, "le patou" is not a herd dog; its role is to guard flocks of sheep. It's a vigilant and brave guardian both by day and by night. Large and magestic, with a superb white coat, it is highly prized as a companion dog around the world, especially in the United States and in Japan. However, as its popularity as a pet has increased, the traditional role as a working dog has declined in recent years and the patou has been disappearing from its native land. Fortunately, the reintroduction of bears in the Pyrenees has stimulated interest in the breed as a protector of flocks and more are now being trained for this essential task. INFO TAKEN FROM ).

A few weeks ago, we set off again to try and reach this mythical lake up in the mountains.
We set off from their house at 6.30am! and by 7.05am, we had arrived at le parking.
As we tooled up, with our walking boots etc a sporty 30 something alpha male drove up and pausing only to put on his little ruck sack, complete with drinking tube, our hero dressed in a little sports vest and little blue shorts, jogged lightly on the spot whilst he set his chronometer and departed at a brisk trot into the mist.

Yes it was very misty. You could not see further than about 20 meters, however this was part of the cunning plan. Arrive early before the suns rays turn us into desiccated husks, and of course, beat the crowds of ramblers.
The information board said that the lake was 3 hours climb away, so it was going to be a bit of a slog.

After about one an a half hours, fit, blue man (still running) passed us on his way down, with a splish, splosh, splish, splosh.
We toiled upwards with me in front as I knew that I would soon be slowing down and drop back to last place.
Despite the chill in the air, it was hard going, with no flat bits to afford a bit of relief.
About 2 hours into our walk, the sun decided to show it’s face and the mist began to clear.
30 minutes later we finally reached a flat bit, which had a small mountain refuge, which was positioned in the lee of a rocky outcrop, from which large boulders had detached themselves over the years.

After a bit more scrambling over rocky terrain, we could finally see the lake. Unfortunately we were not alone, a small tent was pitched between us and it.
We continued past the tent and down to the water’s edge. (can water have an edge?)
Mist was still rolling around in patches and this completely pissed off the auto-focus on my camera.

We spent the next two hours wandering about. The family paddled in the lake, having brought their thongs/ flip-flops. The water was a peaty colour and there were thousands of tadpoles wriggling about or resting in it. They were beginning to sprout little legs. I should imagine that it must get quite squishy underfoot, once they turn into frogs and start hopping about on land.


There were also small fish swimming about. The lake was not right at the summit of the mountain and streams bubbled their way down from the higher ground, feeding into the lake. Quite where the water was coming from, I don’t know, because although there were peaks in the distance with patches of snow, our mountain was a ice free zone.


Other people started to arrive, and took up their positions round the lake. Two boys had brought their fishing rods along and were fishing from the far bank.

Ooh! look at the lovely snow!
We picnicked before starting our descent.

The descent was really tough on the ankles and calves although it only took around 2 hours.

It was now noon and the sun was really hot. As we descended, we passed at least 50 people on their way up in the blazing heat. They did not look happy and some looked as though their head gaskets might blow at any minute.

Perhaps next time they will get up in time to make an early start...... (Yes I can be a smug bastard).

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