Road Trip, Day 9

The summit of Puy de Sancy, 1,885 meters (6,188 feet).

It’s been several days of rain, clouds I could nearly touch, and no sign at all of the mountains I’d come to hike. All that changed when this morning dawned sunny and bright.

I drove to the Sancy téléphérique (cable car), joined around 20 masked people inside, and we all got whooshed up the mountain. Coming out, we were faced with a very long wooden stair path that climbed up and curved toward the summit, adding 110 meters (360 feet).

I made this pano the old-fashioned way: by taking three different photos and superimposing them on top of each other (no digital stitching). I’ve always liked the pre-digital look of this sort of work, and I hadn’t made one in a long time. The view from near the top seemed a good opportunity.

Puy de Sancy is the highest point in the Massif Central, at 1,885 meters, or 6,188 feet. The entire region is volcanic, with around 450 volcanoes dotting the landscape. The youngest of the volcanoes are those in the Chaîne de Puys, which encompasses 80 volcanoes in an area that is only 45 kilometers long by 5 kilometers wide. The highest point in that group is Puy de Dôme at 1,465 meters (4,806 feet).

Here’s an interesting tidbit for anyone who’s been to the Dordogne area: there are two creeks that start on the northern flank of Puy de Sancy. One is named the Dore and the other is named the Dogne. Somewhere a little further along, the two creeks join and become the Dordogne River.

The well-trod marker at the summit of Puy de Sancy.
Here’s a view from just below the summit, showing the dramatic uplift to the rock formations, high above a fertile valley below.
Above and below: more cool rock formations. The volcanic activity in this region covers a big range of time, from one million years ago to only 7,000 years ago.
After I spent some time at the top, I came back down the stairs you can see in the upper left (with little dots of people). In front of me is another path I followed to more cool rock formations.

I found a relatively comfortable rock and sat down to enjoy the moment in time. It was warmer up at the top than it was way down in the parking lot, and there was no wind. It was pretty much a perfect day in this little corner of paradise.

There were masses of swallows swooping around the rocks, and I saw a peregrine falcon suspended in mid-air as it searched for lunch. I could hear the bells of a large herd of cattle that was grazing far, far below me.

The dynamic movement of the volcanic rock was endlessly fascinating in its forms and obvious energy. Where I sat, the cracks in the rocks were filled with thick, spongy moss and flowering heather in several shades of pink.

The lovely weather today brought out a lot of smiles on the faces of people who were happy to be scampering about on steep mountains. I enjoyed conversations with several people, and nearly everyone gave me a smile and a “bonjour” as we passed each other. There were a lot of dogs, too, and I got in some good ear-scratching along with people talking.

What a wonderful day!


I’ll close with a photograph that has nothing to do with the big mountain. It comes from my dinner this evening. It’s light passing through my water glass and the pitcher of water and onto the surface of the placemat.