GR54, From Bourg D’Oisans to Alleau

With our friends Chty and Aurélie, we have decided at the last minute to go for a trekking from June the 9th to the 12th, 2012. I have been thinking about the GR54 arround the Écrins mountaines for a long time. This trek is inside the Écrins National Parc between the departement of Isère and the one of Hautes Alpes. I remember to have bought the guide for this tour back in 2001!

It is impossible to perform the whole path in only one week, at least 10 days are needed for trained trekkers. Our little team is hardly trained enough for this trek, called GR 54, for “Grande Randonnée” (Big Trek). which is known to be quite difficult. The valleys in the Écrins mountains are deep and green, full for flowers, especially in June, this is a real marvel to walk in such a beautiful landscape. Moreover, my parents are living nearby, and that could be helpful, anything happening to us.

It took me quite a long time to make up my mind on the way, it is very important for a trek to be fit with the participants. The group must stays close and consolidated, everyone must be prepared for several days of adventure, ready to give and take, and must have enough interest in the path, landscape, solitude, physical effort, solidarity…

GR54 is difficult for casual sports, and even if the way is paved with a lot of refuges, shelters, guesthouses or cottages, it is not that obvious to have small steps, often a day will need more than 1000 meters (3000 feet) of climbing. Bivouacking could be a solution to have customized steps, but then for 4 people it adds 2 to 3 kg of weight. Moreover sleeping under a tent is not always as resting as in a real bed, and nights are still cold in June. And last but not least a good meal in a guesthouse is usually very comforting!

My final decision was to start at Bourg D’Oisans and go South. This start offers two light days as appetizers, about 4 hours of walk, for everybody to warm up. Then days start to become harder, but getting closer from Gap, my parents could pick somebody up ifanyone desire.

We got a bit washed out with our wedding last year and our trip to South American beginning of this year (see our article about our budget for 3 months in South America), so the budget was tight. I was thinking about combining some half board and autonomy. Most of the refuge or cottage offer various prices for the night, the meal, and most include a small kitchen available to the trekkers. Without the come and go from Paris, I planed on 30 to 40 euros per day, everything included, about 250 euros for the week.

Our first day, we leaved Paris for Grenoble at 7:37am on Saturday, June, 9th, 2012. From Grenoble we took the bus to Bourg D’Oisans, then we walked to the “Camping de la Cascade” in l’Alleau.

Itinerary GR54, Bourg d’Oisans – l’Alleau
Distance 13.5km
Vertical gain +300m
Vertical drop -160m
Altitude min 750m
Altitude max 934m
Length 6h

We was at 10:40am in Grenoble, no problem during the trip except an heavy snorer who prevent us to have a good sleep, but hey… We have one hour to wait before the bus departure so we buy some food for our next days, chips, pasta, semolina, fruits. We have a lot of cereal bars, chocolate and other biscuits.

The bus quits Grenoble around noon and we have our lunch in Bourg D’Oisans from 1:30pm to 2pm, then we start for good our trek with an easy and nearly flat way to l’Alleau. A bit more than 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) with 200 meters (600 foot) of climbing. The path is simple and nice, we walk slowly, stopping often, and arrive 5 hours later. It is very important, on the first days, to absolutely reduce the speed to get used to long walking time, most of us nearly never walk for 5 hours straight, and the body needs to adapt or therisk of injuries is very important.

The “Camping de la Cascade” is very nice, we are renting a “tentabois”, a mix between a cabin and a tent, with a double bed, two single beds, a small fridge, a table and a little gas cooker. Water has to be carried from the sanitary, where are the showers and the toilets. 64 euros for the four of us, this is correct.

We enjoy our pastas with hamburgers and tomatoes, and everybody go to bed around 10pm, tomorrow, real adventure begins!

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