Scaling the Puy de Dôme

On Sunday we got a somewhat early start and made our way to the Puy de Dôme, a 1,465 meter (or 4,806 ft) tall dormant volcano topped by an ancient Roman temple to Mercury. It took us around 40 minutes to drive to the trail head, and seeing the several feet of snow on the ground when we arrived made me so happy – it’s been years since I’ve seen that much snow!

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It was supposed to be about a 45 minute trip to the summit, so not a particularly extreme hike, but after only a few minutes I was already breathing heavily and removing layers of sweater, despite the freezing temperatures. Luckily I had to stop every so often to take pictures, so I got more chances to rest than Sofia and Valentin, who are in much better shape than me!

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As we climbed higher the trail got steeper and the winds picked up. By the time we reached the heavily-restored temple of Mercury near the summit, we found ourselves in the midst of a snow storm, with winds so strong that tiny shards of ice were pelting us in the face like needles. After squinting through this torrent of ice-glass to see the temple, we decided to run down the hill as fast as possible.

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The Temple of Mercury, handling the snow storm just fine

Below you can watch an actual video I took of our failed attempt to reach the summit:

Since the Mines of Moria were a little ways off, we took shelter instead in the tiny snack shop which stood a few yards away from the temple, where we gulped down some hot chocolate and met a friendly American from South Carolina (I would say it’s a small world, but honestly Americans are pretty much everywhere haha, you can’t escape us!)

Once we got up the courage to venture back out into the snow, the winds began to work in our favor and we were quickly propelled down the mountain and back to our car. It was an awesome hike and I definitely plan on returning (maybe in the summer) so I finish our quest to reach the top!

When we got back to Sofia’s we ate a mountain climber-worthy lunch of hot open-faced sandwiches and soup. Not long after, we miraculously found the energy to undertake yet another hike, this time from Sofia’s house to the hilltop town where she first lived when she moved to France. This hike took us up to a beautiful ridge overlooking the valley, before winding along a muddy, ancient Roman road, past the remains of an old cherry orchard, and through the town of Chadrat, where we had some well-deserved tea with some of Sofia’s old neighbors.

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The hike hadn’t really begun at this point and I was already tired!
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Some cool kids I met on the lookout
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An epic mud puddle
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Sitting on my throne in the remains of an old cherry orchard

 

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The town of Chadrat

For dinner that night Sofia’s mom made a feast of sun dried tomato and mascarpone quiche,  baked potatoes, and rabbit legs with fennel seeds, plus some whisky kumquats with vanilla ice cream for dessert! It was amazing! Afterwards we stayed up late playing cards and talking about our first few days in our master’s program (which was more than a year and a half ago now!), as well as Sofia and Valentin’s upcoming internships in Peru and the Philippines. It was a great way to end a perfect weekend, and I was truly sad to leave for Paris the next morning, which is not something I say often!

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Mmmm that rabbit was good!

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