July 29—Day 42: Col de Crusette to St. Sauveur de Tinée
Less than a week left now. Hard to believe.
I stopped for a long breakfast at the top of Col du Crusette. Had a coffee and watched the sunrise over the mountains, layered blue in the distance. I was looking out toward the sea, and the sky did look more blue even if I couldn’t see the water.
This day was one very long, very hot walk. Maybe the trail would be nice at a different time of day, but because of my long breakfast I walked mostly through the afternoon and it was terrible. The path down from the col was barren and rocky, crossing a large round col that had no vegetation at all. It descended steeply into a valley where the landscape became more desert like. I was getting closer to the sea, that was clear. Dry and dusty brown rocks, long boring fields, low foothills of mountains. I marched on, intending to stop for lunch at the Refuge du Longon some hours ahead. When I arrived, I found that they didn’t serve lunch! So I just bought a beer and had my usual bread and cheese and sausage.
In the middle of another long descent past a few small towns, there was a cherry tree beside the road. You bet I ate some.
Walked on a purple slate road into Roure, a charming little town that unfortunately had nothing in it. It would’ve been a beautiful place to stop for dinner, with a view of the forested valley below. Instead I kept on walking down, at one point making a time-consuming mistake down the wrong trail. Left an “X” mark so the next person would know not to turn there as I had. (“X” is the GR symbol for “not this way!”).
When I finally reached St. Saveur in the bottom of the valley, I was dripping in sweat. I went straight to the fountain, dropped my pack, and dunked my head under the water. It really feels so great after hours in the sun.
I sat by the Marie for a little while, cooling down and resting in the shade from the long day. Another hiker walked in and sat on the bench across from me and I recognized him from earlier in the day. Yves and I ended up having a beer and then a good dinner in town. He was hiking the GR5 and soon would change to the 52A, a shorter version of the variant I was planning. We both agreed that it was getting harder to want to carry much on these last days; nicer to just pay a bit for a meal someplace.
We camped late on a grass field just in town by the river. The church bells kept ringing on the hour all through the night, twelve loud chimes at midnight. At this low elevation (<500m) it was still hot and humid well after dark. No rain at least, so I could sleep with the tent uncovered.