After our exploits on the bike, tackling 3 of the biggest mountain passes accessible from the Ubaye Valley in 3 days, we decided to give our wheels a rest on Wednesday and slip our hiking boots back on instead. Our plan for the day was to try what we hoped would be a relatively gentle hike to the Lac des Sagnes, a beautiful alpine lake some 12km or so from our base at Jausiers and around 700m higher at 1900m . Most of the promotional material we'd seen for the town of Jausiers featured shots from around the lake so we were looking forward to seeing it for ourselves.
As the trail started a couple of kilometres out of town we cycled in bright sunshine up the opening part of the climb to the Col de Bonnette (the one we'd cycled up the day before) to around 1450m where the trail began by the roadside. We had been told we could cycle to the lake if we wanted to on a track, but we were keen to hike today so locked up the bikes to a handy tree and set off up the gentle slope following the dusty track into the trees. Climbing gradually, but steadily through a pine forest we were soon looking back over Jausiers and the high peaks beyond.
The route to the lake winds its way up the steep sided Sagnes Valley, tracking the river which flows down to the Ubaye behind us. As we ambled along, listening to the roar of the water below we had plenty of time to take in the stunning views on the opposite side of the river with jagged 3000m peaks towering over us. At around the halfway point we stopped for a rest and just stared up at the swirling layers in the sheer rock face and the saw-tooth tops of the mountains.
Moving on again through the forest, steadily climbing all the way, until after around 3 hours of plodding the valley suddenly opened out into a wide, flattened bowl cradling the Lac des Sagnes, with 2 further valleys splitting off on either side beyond the water. It was an idyllic scene and well worth the hike. We sat on a nearby rock and ate our oats, seeds and berries mix, taking in the waterfalls cascading down the valley sides and staring up the 2 diverging valleys to the higher peaks in the distance, including the col de Bonnette that we had stood on top of just 24 hours earlier.
The lake seemed a popular but peaceful spot with fisherman, some cyclists coming and going and a dozen or so families picnicking on the waters edge. After lunch we took a short stroll around the shore and, if we'd had the energy, could have continued on the trail much higher up the one of the 2 valleys and climbed towards the distant peaks. Our legs, however, said otherwise so we decided to retrace our steps and head for home.
The going was a little easier downhill but we took regular stops just to try and take in the scale of the valley we were trekking through, before reaching our bikes and heading back for dinner. Although it was a beautiful day we did agree, however, that after 4 days on the go it was time to take a little rest from our outdoor pursuits. Which brings us to today (Thursday) and we're taking it easy in Jausiers after some time relaxing in the motorhome this morning gathering our strength to take on one more hiking trail and maybe one more ride before we head north once more from the Ubaye Valley deeper into the French Alps.