Lac Merlat via Cascade de l’Oursière

The UT4M encircled Grenoble this weekend, so Russell and I decided to trek up to Lac Merlat to overnight & capture some photographs of the runners for team organizing the race.

The hike up to Lac Merlat from the closest parking location passes a number of small waterfalls, then the mighty Cascade de l’Oursière, before passing a col up to a plateau home to 3 lakes - Lac Bernard, Lac Longet and Lac Claret.  

Lac Longet in the mist

Lac Longet in the mist

A little further up the valley, Refuge de la Pra looks out across the meandering river plane, and sits at a junction of several great routes in the area. 

Refuge de la Pra

Refuge de la Pra

Refuge de la Pra as the mist descends

Refuge de la Pra as the mist descends

We continued onto Lac Merlat to camp, hoping for a great sunrise to light up Grand Colon and Lac Merlat, however were disappointed as the cloud formed around the summit and lake overnight.  We caught a glimpse of the lake just as we were leaving.

Lac Merlat

Lac Merlat

The trek up was 10.5km, with 1,400m of elevation gain according to my GPS. On the way back, we took a slightly longer route to follow the UT4M trail back and catch the runners - taking 13.8km.  Both routes were pretty straightforward - with a few spots that required care & attention, but nothing particularly difficult.

Plateau d'Emparis - Lac Noir & Lac Lerie

You can do this hike in a day, but I chose to camp so that I could catch the sunset and sunrise without having to get up at silly o'clock. I parked at Le Chazelet to the east of the lakes as that provides the easiest access up to the Plateau.

I camped at Lérié and watched the sunset from this spot. The light was directly on the Meije at sunset so rather flat, so I waited around for the light to hit after sunrise the next day before moving on to Lac Noir, and returning home.

Out of the two lakes, Lac Noir is the larger and more popular, but Lérié has a low rock wall that lets you see the mountain range beyond - and with good weather the reflections are superb!

Checkout a similar route on Visorando, or the route I took on Social Hiking below

Stats: 17km / Gain 1,100m / Max 2,460m

Anti-virus, Anti-Malware recommendations

Like many experienced computer users I've long  since grown tired of the excessive system load imposed on my PC from full-suite security software such as Norton & McAfee, so when Windows 7 came out with the free Microsoft Security Essentials, I gave it a try.  I found MSE to be fast and effective, hardly slowing down my PC at all.

So for the last few years, my standing recommendation has been to install Microsoft Security Essentials, keep Windows & key apps like Acrobat and Flash updated, and to pay careful attention to what you click on (don't click on attachments sent to you that don't look kosher, and be careful when clicking through installers to not catch unwanted tool-bars and other crap-ware while installing a program you do want). 

However it seems that Microsoft hasn't been keeping up with the hackers and criminals.  As reported by HowToGeek last year, whilst MSE topped the performance tables in 2009, since then it has slid down the tables.

So what do I now recommend?

A recent article on Lifehacker pretty much nails it.. 

avast! Free Antivirus

First - you need a basic free always on virus scanner - and you won't go far wrong with Avast Free. Whilst it isn't the top performer in security, it it one of the best at not slowing your system down.  It does come with a plethora of annoying popups and sounds, but Lifehacker tells us how we can configure Avast to mitigate them.

Other options can be found on Lifehackers's best AV application for windows article.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Second - I'd recommend an on-demand scanning tool that can take an occasional deeper look at what's on your PC (especially if it starts behaving strangely) - and one of the best on the market at the moment seems to be Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.  They have a free version that's fine for on-demand scanning (which is fine as long as you remember to run it every so often) or the Pro version is only $24.95 for a lifetime license (no annual update fees!)