23-Jan-2016 -- This is the first out of two reports reaching confluence points in Southern France.
Cycling and confluencing is my favourite combination of travel. To make it to a (to me new) confluence point and back to Zurich within a weekend, I usually get into area by train and start cycling from a train station. Slow trains do take bicycles, but they are – you won’t believe it – slow. High speed trains usually don’t allow bicycles on board. But if the bicycle is packed in a so-called TranZBag, it is considered as normal luggage and can therefore be taken along.
Friday after work at 3:37 PM I took the TGV Lyria from Zurich to Paris arriving there at 20 PM. I had to change the train station from Paris-Gare de Lyon to Paris-Austerlitz to catch the night train to Montréjeau, a village located south of France, about 50 km west of this confluence point. After my arrival in Montréjeau at 5:15 AM, I began directly cycling towards this confluence point. It was still dark, but unusually warm (ca. 17° C). It took me 4 hours to cycle to the confluence point via Saint-Gaudens, Mane, and Francazal. The last tiny village before reaching the confluence is called
Salège in 500 m distance. From the village a forest track zigzags upwards and reaches the minimal distance to the confluence at 268 m. At this location, I parked my bicycle and tried to find my way to the confluence on foot. This turned out to be a painful and exhausting hike that I would not recommend at all. The soil was soaking wet, the vegetation consisted of mostly of thorny blackberry bushes and the gradient of the terrain became steeper and steeper as I approached the confluence. About 50 m to the confluence point I was ready to give up. The incline had become dangerously steep, I had to pull myself upwards from tree to tree and the surface was slippery. But when I nevertheless continued a bit, I suddenly reached an edge. Once I passed it, the slope was much less severe and the going was easy compared to the torture I had undergone before.
The confluence is located on a relatively mild slope in a less dense beech forest. The north view allows a far outlook into the lower plane of the north. When I was there, I got the feeling to be above the clouds, since a sea of fog was below me while it was sunny at the confluence.
Exceptionally I choose a different way for the return. I thought that any other route back to civilisation could not be worse compared to mine. So I hiked further upwards until I hit another forest track after a smooth hike of about 300 m.
I followed the track two zigzags down to my bike and then coasted down all the way to Saint-Girons that I reached right on time at noon for a big lunch. In the afternoon, I continued cycling over the Col de Portel (1432 m), where my wheels got stuck in deep snow.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to a road: 500 m
- Distance to a track: 268 m
- Distance of bicycle parking: 268 m
- Time to reach the CP from the track: 30 min
- Time at the CP: 10:25 AM
- Measured height: 817 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 1 m
- Position accuracy: 4 m
- Topography: mountainous
- Vegetation: mixed forest with huge beech trees and small conifer trees
- Weather: partly cloudy, 17° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Steep Thorny Climb Confluence
The story continues at 43°N 2°E.