Lac Goleon - Parc National des Ecrins

I decided to take a walk last Saturday to do an overnight, but with no forward planning... I had to find somewhere not too far without too great a height to climb, so looking to my lakes map - I identified Lac Goleon in the Ecrins national park as one I'd not visited before.

Turned out to be a reasonable walk (750m up, 6km) as I had to park at the lower car-park, not wanting to risk the dirt road.

Looking back down the valley as I climbed I wondered if I'd make it in time for sunset, so just paused briefly to capture the first pano. As I was shooting into the sun I found I needed to stack 2 ND grad filters; and to pay attention to keeping it level as I panned from one side to the other.

I made it with around 20 minutes to spare before the sun descended below the ridge and the mountains to the right lost the light. It took 10 minutes or so to get the camera into the best position close to the water on the tripod to let me capture the rock in the foreground and the reflections in the lake. I took 5 shots bracketed, and processed in Oloneo.

As I was setting up my trailstar for the night, I noticed the clouds clearing, and realizing that the moon wouldn't be out for a few hours, so I waited for darkness & went to see if I could spot the Milky Way before going to bed. 

Would you believe it!  It was sitting right above the La Meije range. 

So of course I tried a few combinations of lens, shutter speed, and ISO, and ended up with a pretty good first attempt.  30 seconds wide open with my Samyang 7.5mm fish eye at 3200 ISO on my OM-D E-M5 gave me the best results.  Next time I think I'll try to limit at 1600 ISO, and my 12mm f/2.0.

It was so cold overnight (at around 2,500m in Oct - and I was surprised?), that I almost didn't make it out for sunrise.  Just as I woke I saw the light through the tent changing colour, grabbed the camera and a pair of trousers, and made it up to grab this pano.

Yes - the light really was almost that purple!

Trail map below...

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