Time: 5.25h. Up: 730m. Down: 740m.
Distance: 15.5km. Difficulty: easy.

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Stage 54: Val Claret (2127m) to the Refuge d'Entre-Deux-Eaux (2120m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

Ashort day for a (welcome?) change... other than the descent from Sonchaux into Montreux, you haven't had such a short hike since the first couple of days in Switzerland. After an initial climb under a chairlift to a high pass, the rest of the day is spent above 2000m slowly descending along a high valley between two glaciated ridges.

Or at least on the map they still have glaciers; whether they still exist in reality remains to be seen. Bush/Cheney and their buddies at Exxon can pontificate all they like about how global warming is unproven... but its effects are already very visible in the Alps, where almost all glaciers have receded rapidly in the last half century -- in some cases by hundreds of vertical meters -- and many have already disappeared.

This has had various negative side-effects: from the increased numbers of landslides and rockfalls, to the extinction of alpine flora and fauna, to greater variability of river flow. And, last but not least, the Alps with glaciers are more beautiful than those without. In spite of their retreat, you will still see plenty of glaciers on the H2H... but will your children?

Today's route is identical with the Via Alpina, and also almost identical with the GR55 (note NOT the GR5) except right at the end where you go south from the Pont-de-Croé-Vie to get to the Refuge. From Val Claret walk south-east up to and over the Col de la Leisse (2755m). The few kilometers before and after the pass are across a boulder-scattered landscape where the trail is poorly marked and you'll need to watch carefully for cairns. The trail continues around the north side of the Lac des Nettes (2559m) and past the Refuge de la Leisse (2487m) down the valley until it forks at the Pont-de-Croé-Vie (2099m). Take the trail to the south here for another kilometer to the Refuge d'Entre-Deux-Eaux.

Alternatives: none. If the weather is bad, take a rest day, because the trail over the Col de la Leisse, although not exposed, is difficult to follow when visibility is poor.
Map: IGN-3633ET Tignes.

The House to House blog... stage 54.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: picnic, or you could have a late lunch at the Refuge de la Laisse (after 4h).
Dinner and overnight: the only good choice is the Refuge d'Entre-Deux-Eaux (+33-(0), 60 places). If you can't stay here, then you could stop earlier at the Refuge de la Laisse (+33-(0), 40 places), although this would add about 1.25h and 5km onto the next, already overlong, stage. Another option is to pass by the Refuge d'Entre-Deux-Eaux and climb to the Refuge du Plan du Lac (2384m -- +33-(0), 42 places in bunkrooms with 4-8 beds each)... but this adds 1.25h, +330m, -70m, 3km to this stage, as well as 0.75h, -260m, 2km to the next.

Getting There and Back
Val Claret: from Bourg-Saint-Maurice, where there is a railway station, you can either take a taxi or one of the infrequent buses 30km to Val Claret (for taxi information see here, for bus schedule information see here, and for train schedule information, see the SNCF).
Refuge d'Entre-Deux-Eaux: this is one of the few places on the H2H that is just plain difficult to get to other than by hiking for several hours. Probably the quickest way down from here is to return to Val Claret via the Col de la Leisse... which will take you about the same length of time as it took you in this direction.
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Val Claret.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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