Day 36:Fort d’Olive and then some
Composition can be an aggravating process. I’m at the point where I’m hovering over the page, working up to writing some stuff down, listening over and again to the workshop recording, asking opinions from supervisors, getting despondent. It is usual at this point for me to get really depressed. The composer David Lumsdaine once described this point as being like a physical thing, preventing him from doing anything up until and sometimes after the point at which you put pencil to paper.
I had got particularly frustrated today so I decided to take a walk, with the workshop recording on my iPhone and my notebook and a bit of manuscript in my pack.
I had walked to the Fort d’Olive, one of the many forts around the french-italian border in the alps, a few years ago and remembered vaguely the fort itself, a meadow on the way up with a broken wall in it and an archway you had to pass through on the way up.
I had totally forgotten just how long and steep a climb it was. The route lead off from where I had come across the junction to the Bois de Noir the other day. It was fairly unclear where the path was as it had got covered in pine-needles but it was a little spindly path that lead up a really steep scree-covered hill, directly up the side of a peak.
It seemed to take forever to get up and after a good while I started to wonder why I hadn’t seen the meadow or the arch and whether I’d taken the right track. The track I was on joined up with another similar track from Plampinet and continued up a good way. At this point I was sweating buckets, although still not as out of breath as I had been a month ago, thankfully.
I finally came out onto the meadow I remembered and was relieved to see it. I still had some way to climb though, including a hair-raising traverse over an ex-avalanche site, a long steep scree pitch. Another couple of hundred metres up I came across the archway, attached to an old guard outpost, and all was good. From there there was a long track up to the fort.
The fort itself is a bit-tumble down and sure to disappear soon. There were some beautiful views out over the valley from there and the buildings were pretty interesting. I decided not to go inside though as I was on my own, and there are dangerous animals (wolves etc.) in the alps that were likely to have been sheltering there.
While I had been climbing up to the Fort d’Olive I had a call from Bike Fairy, who suggested I continue walking past the Fort along the col de Granon (GR 57) and that she would pick me up in the car-park on the other side. I thought “pourquoi pas?” so at this point I went to get my map out to secure the route. At which point I realised I’d left it at home!
After a few more directions I found the route: a long, pretty straight land-rover track that lead away over the high plateau, round three peaks and past another fort.
The track and the views were beautiful, and it felt like walking on top of the world. I also felt like the only human in existence up there. There was not a sign of a single soul. I passed the turning to the Fort Lenanon but decided to press on because the sun was starting to go down.
On the journey I came across a small pasture with a tiny shed. It struck me as an idyllic but lonely farming life, but with very nice views.
When I finally crossed the col de Granon to the car-park, the sun was starting to disappear behind the mountains. However the views were absolutely staggering and I cracked a huge smile and took hundreds of pictures. There was a viewing platform from which you could look out over the whole panorama of the alps.
BF picked me up in Roo and that was an end of it. 17.2km and 1028m ascent. The longest and highest walk I’ve done yet and the easy equivalent of a Scottish Munro. (In fact there was a skip in the GPS information and I think I travelled more like 18.5km). My legs and back were killing me by the end of that but it was a good walk.
I may not have got much work done, but I was feeling better about the composition by the time I got to the car park.
And testament to how knackered I was at the end of that is that this post is a day late! Sorry folks. Hope you enjoyed!
p.s I took waaayyy more pictures than I could include in the post – this slideshow has some more beautiful scenes: