In the month and a half of living in Chemenet, we had the opportunity to explore some of the best local hikes. The weather was surprisingly cooperative for February. There was a bit of snow on the highest peaks, which added to the excitement of some of the walks!
Perhaps our most memorable adventure in Auvergne was the hike to Puy Gros. We spent the morning cleaning up a cat accident, then arguing about whether we should take the snow shoes. Finally we decided to take them - thank you Anna for being so insistent! We were off to a late start: the normal road was blocked by a tractor and we lost an entire hour to get to our destination. By the time we arrived, I was worried that the hike is too ambitious for what time we had left before the end of the day.
The hike starts behind a village, where after some walking in the fields you arrive to a beautiful view of the Massif de Sancy, with the Super-Besse ski station in the distance. In February, the mountains look a lot more adventurous thanks to the snow cover.
After meeting some ponies, we arrived to the first patch of snow. This is where I again felt like the snowshoes were taken in vain - it was super easy to just walk around the thin snow cover.
Once the path entered the forest, the snow, while still patchy, has become much deeper. At this point we decided to put on the snowshoes - just to try it, we might not get another chance today, we thought.
However, the snow was only getting deeper and covered more and more of the path. By the time we arrived at the foot of the mountains, it was obvious that the snowshoes are very much necessary to continue the walk.
After a half-hour climb, we already feel like can see to the end of Auvergne. The prominence of the Sancy peaks is really remarkable - at under 2000m, they tower above their surroundings, and on a relatively clear day like this you can see the glistening lakes afar.
Here we meet the first people of the day - the locals have gathered to walk, ride sleigh down the nearby slope, and even ski with a paraglider. The ski lifts are closed due to the pandemic, and there's no road nearby, so only the most adventurous venture here.
Here the hike continues back down to a nearby road, but before we followed it, we tried to actually climb Puy Gros. It proved to be impossible with our primitive snowshoes: the incline was too high, and there wasn't enough traction. Clearly we needed some sort of spikes. On the bright side, we had no problem going back down - and had quite a bit of fun!
Near the road, we met a bunch of kids who came to ride the roadside little hill. A long line of cars was parked there, and some folk were having picnics.
From here, it is mostly flat and slightly down the hill. The path wasn't always super clear, but eventually we figured it out. Very soon the snow wasn't covering the ground again, exposing the beautiful yellow grass, kind of like a spotted cow.
The walk continues in a small forest where there's a snowshoe track, and shortly comes back to the village where we parked, completing the loop.
With 6.5 hours of hike behind us, we were happy to be back in our car - especially knowing that the curfew would start in 30 minutes. Did we make it home on time? Nope. But it was well worth the risk 😅