Time: 7.5h. Up: 1210m. Down: 1000m.
Distance: 19.5km. Difficulty: hard.

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Stage 65: Larche (1675m) to Bousiéyas (1883m)

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

Today is your last day in the high Alps! You will still have a couple of significant passes to cross, but they are either quite a bit lower than today's 2671m Pas de la Cavale, or there are good lower-level alternatives that you can hike if necessary.

So (big sigh of relief), after today you are probably out of the danger zone as far as an early start to winter is concerned. From now on the weather will improve daily, as you approach the Mediterranean faster than winter approaches you. This is a big deal, since an early winter is one of the biggest risk factors endangering a successful completion of the H2H.

It should now be around or a little after mid-September, and the earliest a heavy snowfall (sufficient to make crossing a pass difficult or impossible) is likely to occur is the beginning of October (although it can of course occur sooner). This is why mountain huts in the French Alps tend to close for the winter at the end of September.

This is also your first day in the Parc National de Mercantour, with 800,000 visitors / year the most popular in France, and an indication that, although you won't be surrounded by crowds until you get to Monaco, you are slowly but surely leaving the empty spaces of the Alps behind. A few weeks ago regret about leaving the mountains was probably unthinkable, but how about now?

Today's route is identical with the GR5. From Larche head southeast up the Ubayette valley on the side, not the main, road. After about 5km the public road comes to an end, and 1.5km further the farm-track beyond peters out and you are back on a trail. You soon start to climb, pasing the Lac du Lauzanier (2284m) and the Lac de derrière la Croix (2428m) on your way to the Pas de la Cavale (2671m). After a steep and rocky initial descent, at times over loose scree, into the valley of Salsa Moréno (2080m), the path climbs back up over a lower north/south ridge at the Col des Fourches (2261m). The final stretch down to Bousiéyas is to the east of the zig-zagging road you see below from the Col.

Alternatives: there is no cheap way to shorten the day (unless you can find someone local to take you to the end of the public road), and if the weather is bad, don't hike: the trail is too steep and the pass too high to be safe in a storm.

If the Pas de la Cavale is already blocked by snow, one option is to go over the Col du Fer (2584m), which faces east/west and is therefore somewhat more likely to be snow-free. You will then meet up with main route of the H2H in the middle of the next stage at the Col du Fer before descending to St.-Etienne-de-Tinée. An added advantage is a lower total hiking time for the two stages. An added disadvantage is that the first day is mostly road-walking.

Anyway, if you take this route, start by walking from Larche along the road up and over the Col de Larche (1991m) into Italy, then descending along the road via the hamlet of Grangie (1788m) to Bersezio (1620m). Turn right here onto a farm track that loops its way to the Rifugio Becchi Rossi in Ferriere (1880m), where you'll stay the night. From here a trail leads to the Col du Fer, where, as said, you'll rejoin the H2H main route in the middle of the next stage. Totals for the first stage to Ferriere are 6.5h, +800m, -600m, 21km. To the Col du Fer the following day is an additional 3.25h, +720m, -240m, 5.5km, and together with the descent to St.-Etienne-de-Tinée, the totals for the next stage will be 8.25h, +980m, -1950m, 19km.

Lastly, if you can get over the Pas de la Cavale but are unable to stay at Bousiéyas, you may want to go down from Salsa Moréno to the Hamlet of Le Pra (1700m -- saves 45m, +180m), where there is a restaurant (Le Pratois: +33-(0) at which you can wait while a taxi comes to fetch you to your accommodation in either St.-Dalmas-le-Selvage or St.-Etienne-de-Tinée. An added bonus: when the taxi brings you back to resume your hike the following morning, you'll already be 2.5km along the route of the next stage.

Maps: IGN-3538ET Aiguille de Chambeyron, IGN-3639OT Haute Tinée 1.

The House to House blog... stage 65.

<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. If taking the alternative route via the Col du Fer, there are a couple of restaurants where you can have lunch in Bersezio. Before you leave Larche, make sure that you have enough food with you for a picnic lunch during the following stage as well.
Dinner and overnight: there are two places to stay in Bousiéyas: the Hôtel le Relais de la Bonette (+33-(0), 12 beds in 8 rooms), and the Gîte de Bousiéyas (+33-(0) or cell +33-(0), 18-28 places (reports vary), and may be only open until Sept. 16th... call ahead to make sure!). If they are both booked or closed, there are plenty of places to stay and eat at in St.-Dalmas-le-Selvage (for a complete list, see here), and St.-Etienne-de-Tinée (for a partial list, see here), to both of which you can get by taxi (see below). If you take the alternative route via the Col du Fer, you'll be staying at the Rifugio Becchi Rossi (+39-(0)171-96715, 22 places).

Getting There and Back
Larche: not an easy place to get to. The nearest railway station in France is at Gap... 100km away... and the nearest one in Italy is at Cuneo... 70 km away. The former is probably easier and cheaper, so in Gap catch one of the infrequent buses for the 1.5h drive to Barcelonnette, and then take a taxi the 27km to Larche (contact information for taxi here, for the bus here, and for train schedule information, see the SNCF). Note that the bus company has regular (but also infrequent) service from Nice and Marseille as well.
Bousiéyas: you can take a taxi to St.-Etienne-de-Tinée, from which a twice-daily bus takes two hours to get to Nice, where there is a railway station and a major airport (contact information for taxi here, and for the bus here).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Larche, centered on St.-Etienne-de-Tinée.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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