Refuge Ayous to Cabane de Cecy. I take the ‘variante’ route to avoid the Corniche des Alhas, no idea how bad this really is… Book says it has rope handles all the way along and has an exposed vertical drop. If it is anything like the Mordor rope climb, giving it a miss works for me.

The path all good. Super fast downhill from Refuge Ayous, through Gabas and then the climb hits. I met a forest mushroom hunter, he says the path is good up ahead (pointing to a path that is ridiculously steep) and THEN it gets difficult he says.

He wasn’t wrong. The path becnes more of a vertical climb, arms staight out in front dragging myself up. It feels like a case of two steps up, one step slide down.

I catch up with Boris and Philippe and arrive at Cabane to find it occupied by a sheperd, Pierre. He directs us to another small stone hut, very basic but dry with two small rooms and a slepping platform.

Pierre – sheperd and cheese maker

This is the second day with no shower (Refuge Ayous was dry) decide to dry and blag at least a cold wash in the sheperds cabane. Turns he has a hot power shower! Bliss. I’m ready to move in and become his mountain wife, herd sheep and make cheese all day. Unfortunately his valley wife is unlikely to be keen on the idea. Pity.

Pierre has to stay up with his sheep in the summer months as wolves migrating through the area attacked his flock last season. Plus this year two breeding bears were released, one in the next valley to the west and the other a valley over to the east.

Andrew and Diana, another couple arrive and set up their tent outside. Wild donkeys visit and try to relief us of our food.

We stay up late in the night, it’s whisky and chocolate by the fire,

It is getting much colder, snow has appeared on the peaks and northern slopes. My Enlightened duvet sleeping bag is proving up to the job. Warm and cosy.