we came to do some raquettes around lou’s birthday so we felt obliged to have a go despite the n’orrible weather! a chap in the hotel garage told us it was quiet up at la stele and there was less rain than in la bourboule, so we set off. the car park was pretty quiet as we arrived which i was thankful for as i’d left my walking stuff in the car the day before in case we got lucky with the weather. i struggled into longjohns, trousers and over trousers, thick socks and my walking boots, so many layers!
at the guichet i discovered there was only one raquette piste open although we could walk alongside two of the ski de fond runds. we don’t enjoy that. you plod along while skiers glide past, usually small children, seemingly making no effort at all! not good for the morale.
oddly, the new raquette piste plan showed the walk we were going to do as being shorter than on the plan i had saved from last year. it still crossed rather a lot of contour lines, i noted. as we set off the rain began to come down more heavily and there was a moment when we looked at each other and nearly bailed. but we didn’t!
it was wet and misty but better under the trees where the colours of the mosses, lichens and last summer’s beech leaves positively glowed in the damp conditions.
as expected there was a lot of trudging upwards but it was quiet and we didn’t meet anyone except when we crossed a ski de fond track. normally this would be bliss, we just needed some sunshine! happily, all that climbing meant the last part was downhill, through thick powdery snow rather than the slushy ice we’d been trudging on. the thought of the cafe/bar with its wonderful soup and cheese spurred us on. sadly the lack of customers, bad weather or change of management meant the cafe had changed and the soup and cheese was not advertised. with a bit of wheedling i managed to order two bowls of soup and some hot coffee. we did ask very nicely!
as we left to go back to the comfort of the hotel a group of children on a school outing swished by…..oh, to be young and talented!