Day 12: Briancon

Day 12 - At Col Had my breakfast at the gite d’etape.  Got another confirmation that French drink coffee or tea from the large bowls (not in Paris though).  There were no cups or mugs available and fellow hikers drank their coffee or tea with milk from the large bowls.  Bread, butter and jams were also available. I was out on the trail at 7:07 and took the high variant GR5C.  Almost a pleasant Day 12 - Along Ridge climb up to the first col was mostly in the forest. 

At the col met a couple and asked to take pictures.  No English but still nice attempts to communicate.  After the col I met a group of hikers.  And here is an example of the conversation.

- Bonjour!
The group:
- Bonjour!
Then one man speaks to me in French.  My SOP:
- I am sorry, I don’t speak French.
The man, obviously French, in English with the British accent:
- You don’t speak French?  Where are you from?
- I am from the US.
- What are you doing here?
- Enjoying the French Alps. Where are you from?
- Oh, I am from here.  Where in the US are you from?
- From Minnesota.
- That is far away. Have a nice walk.
- You too.
- Au revoir!
- Au revoir!

Day 12 - View From Ridge I have not met a single American yet.  It looks like this part of France is way off the popular international (and the US in particular) tourist destinations.

I also met today two French mountain bike riders in their sixties who started in Monaco and already rode over 300 km in the mountains.

Day 12 - Briancon The large part of today's stage went through the very edge of a huge mountain ridge (altitude 2645m).  Similar to the one where I had an encounter with the shepherd dog.  But this was more technically difficult and took 2h 30m.  The weather was perfect and the 360 degree views were stunning.  Could see the glaciers I passed by 3 days back, Monte Viso in Italy, and the town of Briancon way down in the valley. 

Day 12 - Wrong Way When I reached the end of the ridge marked by the cross there was a man with two dogs sitting on the rock and taking pictures with the huge camera.  It seemed like there were cliffs on the left, right and up front.  So I thought maybe I missed when the path started to go down.  The conversation:
- Bonjour!
- Bonjour!
- Do you know how to get to Briancon?
- Oui.
- So which way do I have to go?
(He waives me to keep on going.)

Day 12 - Drinking Water That was a memorable descent...

Eventually I made it to Briancon - a touristy town surrounded by ancient forts on the surrounding mountains.  Checked into a hotel around 15:45.  Walked through the town and couldn't find an internet cafe which would be open.  Eventually the receptionist Day 12 - Hotel allowed me to use her business computer.  Could not check my Charter email though.  It just never could open up the page with the messages.  Probably will have to stop using Charter for emails.