Reviewing the weather forecast and seeing rain in our future (again) we decided on an early start. It was lovely in the town as we left on our ride to, as it turned out, the elusive Chute de la Druise.
If you know me well, you will be away that I plan, research and plan again. There is always a plan! Todays plan was to explore the “Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors”, and ride the spectacular balcony roads that are abundant in the area. I had a route that would take us through several of these roads and end up at a short waterfall hike to reach the “Chute de la Driuse”, reported to be one of the best in the area. I shared this plan with our GPS…and it all went a bit downhill from there!
It went all wonky right from the start when the GPS indicated that we should take a left turn into what was little more than a goat track. We could see on the map that there was a perfectly good tarmac road that would take us to the same area but Iain was already committed and so goat track it was! Hurrah for having changed to the “knobbly” tires rather than the street ones before we left!
The track negotiated we carried on up and up and up. Wonderful twisting, turning and winding roads led us high up in to the mountains. The only problem was, having set out early, the cloud had yet to be burned off and the higher we went, the mistier it got, until we literally couldn’t see a hand in front of our faces! On the plus side however, as we carried on climbing, we eventually came out above the cloud and it was a beautiful bright clear day!
We rode on, faithfully following the GPS instructions. We enjoyed the scenery. Stopped for pics. Shot some videos and waved gleefully at other happy bikers out enjoying the roads. It was really enjoyable just being out there, up in the sky and breathing in the fresh air. Other traffic was few and far between aside from other bikers and those crazy folks on pedal bikes – I mean seriously, a pedal bike up those hill climbs?!?
About two hours into what was a planned two & a half hour ride to our destination, we stopped in a small village for a cup of coffee. I strolled to the handy dandy map that was displayed on the wall and immediately the alarm bells rang! I don’t know what we’d been doing for the past hours but we were nowhere near where I thought we should be. NO WHERE NEAR! I mean, I know we had stopped a few times which would have added to the time but not this bad. It appears that we had enjoyed the winding roads too much and wound ourselves round in circles!
A quick team talk was held. We decided, for the better part of valor, that the waterfall was unattainable today. At the rate we were going it would be nightfall before we got there! Knowing that the forecast rain was getting ever closer, we decided to work our way back to the billet and try again the next day.
The ride back was just as much fun. Some of the roads we had done but got to see from the opposite prospective and others were new, including the best balcony road of the day. Sometimes going “wrong” can turn out to be just right.
We got back and settled in just before the rain hit. Well timed!
The next day, we got up and tried again. This time we decided it would be more sensible to take the direct route to the falls and then wind our way back. At least then we would actually get a chance of seeing them! The weather wasn’t on our side today though. Just an hour in and the waterproofs had to be pulled out and struggled in to. Undeterred, onwards we rode. Despite being the direct route, it still took us up into the hills and along some great riding roads.
Eventually we got to the closest mapped town to the falls and made the turn. It looked more and more like we’d find them today! Very randomly, just 1Km away from the falls, is a small café/bar/restaurant.
We stopped off for a coffee and asked the waiter for info on the hike. “Oh it’s lovely,” he told us. Its an easy ten minutes down to the river and then about 100m to the falls. It’ll take about 25 minutes to get back up “take your time, it’s not a competition” he told us (imagine that in a cute French accent!)
Off we toddled and, on cue, just as we parked up at the trail head, the heavens opened! Sheltering under a tree we decided that the rain would not beat us and we would see the falls today! Because of the weather, we did not change into our hiking boots and, not wanting our jeans to get wet, making for an uncomfortable ride home, we kept on our bike pants. This was supposed to be an “easy” hike after all!
Well…let’s see. Steep, rocky, muddy, narrow, twisting are not adjectives I usually use when describing an “easy” hike. Likewise, ten minutes doesn’t usually mean twenty five! Now, granted, we weren’t wearing optimal hiking gear and I am still not fully recovered from the foot surgery, but this was nuts! I almost quit at one point. I thought we were on a wild goose (or waterfall) chase but the sound of the cascading waters taunted us and we were adamant to get there. They’d better be bloody good is all I could think!
Finally, finally we reached the bottom and started to walk along the river with the powerful sound of the water getting louder. We turned a corner, and then there was this…
Yes, worth it. Well worth it!
I’m not even going to tell you about the climb back up. Suffice to say, it wasn’t pretty and when the two Germans, who were much older than us, skipped up on past with a happy wave and still with a spring in their step, I just wanted to stick out my foot and trip them up! Back up the top and recovered we made our way back down to the restaurant and enjoyed the biggest sandwich ever, while chuckling away at ourselves and our silliness!
Unfortunately now the rain had really set in and it made for a miserable ride home. There would have been some great pics as we went through more stunning scenery but the weather just wasn’t going to co-operate. Never mind, I’d gotten my waterfall fix so I was a happy bunny 🙂
So, that was the first stop of our adventure and a thoroughly enjoyable one it was too, despite the rain!
We’re packing up and moving on; next stop, Chamonix
Follow our posts as we prepare for our 13 week tour of Europe that starts in May 2018!