Once more, my father brought me to a walk in the mountains. My only demand? Being back home on time to see the final mountain stage of the Tour de France, with the climb to l’Alpe d’Huez. We decided to visit Lac de Crop (“Crop Lake”), a small mountain lake lost in a rocky desert, surrounded by steep summits.
A huge thunderstorm had struck Grenoble the evening before, and the atmosphere had seriously cooled down compared to previous days. As a consequence, the weather promised to be a bit cloudy, but we still hoped to see the light of sun. The clouds were not far above us when we started the steep ascent, but some blue patches were visible there and then. Anyway, we enjoyed the coolness.
The first part of the walk was in the forest, but we soon reached a pasture field. The last part was also in a forest, but the trees were much lower than downhill. The clouds were pushing us upwards, hidding the valley of Grésivaudan from sight. During the ascent, a few birds sung around us, including Common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) and Coal tit (Periparus ater), but they were shy and did not greet us.
Suddenly, the path turned flat. We tried to see the lake, but it was hidden behind a foggy veil. The wind was blowing, carrying layers of clouds to and from the valley. Sometimes we could see the peaks above us, a moment after nothing was left but the shore of the lake, five meters from us.
In this desolate scenery, a bird song caught my attention. In a massive scree, a Black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) was hunting. Changing my lens, I sat on a boulder. I spotted at least three or four redstarts, male and female, but they were a bit far for a good picture, especially since the clouds were having a lot of fun shrouding the whole area, including me and my target.
After a moment, the birds disappeared, and without the excitement, I started to suffer from the cold. By any means, it was time to go back and witness a fantastic ascent of l’Alpe d’Huez… from my sofa. In the descent, the fog created a mysterious atmosphere around cairns and fallen trees.