Despite never wanting to leave Savine le Lac, good things apparently have to come to an end. And we had a ferry ticket booked. Aaaaaand... We had to go to Fontainebleau! We also had awesome plans for a leisurely drive back, stopping in the Parc du Morvan and going for a final swim. Unfortunately half way through the second can of unspecified energy drink someone (hint - it was Sam) miscalculated our remaining time. This led to a caffeine-fuelled, NRJ radio-narrated, long-ass drive all the way to the forest, through a moody, thunderous landscape highlighted occasionally by lightning. As with so many of our endeavours, this turned out to be another oversight; we left behind the sun and wild swimming that had so characterised our trip for the last month.
Although we got in at 3.30am, and the forest was a bit wet and dejected, and we had chronic fuzzy tongue, it was all very exciting to be back. We celebrated by going to sleep. The next day everything felt rather strange, there was the lovely familiarity clouded with a certain melancholy. This was probably because being back in Font marked the beginning of the end, or perhaps in part because of the actual clouds; grey, monotonous strata that lurked overhead and stole our sun. Like any good British climbers we headed out anyway, and despite constant, looming suggestions of rain it never did and we had a fun day at Roche getting spat off things that we thought we could climb.
The next day dawned dull and cloudy, but armed with a reasonable twelve hour's sleep we were on fighting form. We went to Bois Rond and set off determinedly, back in our element. Twenty minutes later it became obvious that we were well past the four minutes stated for the walk in, and lost. We took the scenic route through head-high bracken bridged by spider webs (hilariously, for the person behind, only affecting the person in front) and emerged at the climbing area by total accident. A win for the subconscious internal compass. We quickly made an interesting discovery regarding the previous months spent only climbing long sport routes: we weren't so good at bouldering. That being said, we could climb worse for longer...
After a few beautiful days and nights in the forest it was awesome to head to the Grez-sur-Loing campsite, in particular to shower - despite an ingenious idea involving a water bottle tied to a tree and a quick strip-and-splash, only occasionally interrupted by other forest visitors. To ensure that we had a proper rest, we made spirited progress into a 5l, 6€ plastic tank of the finest rose and consequently couldn't accomplish anything the next day other than playing piggy-in-the-middle with next door's French bulldog, Lily. It was one form of recovery...
From sunny Savines-le-Lac we had carefully planned a schedule to maximise both sunbathing and climbing time; as it turned out we needn't have bothered, Font was colder, wetter and windier in July than it was in April. This actually meant that the climbing conditions were pretty good when the rock dried off. We explored the higgledy-piggledy chaos of Apremont during a dry spell and, as per usual, finished off with a last burn at Bas Cuvier on the way out. Although we may not have been up to the same standard as we were at the beginning of the trip, there were still a couple of highlights that we were proud to have ascended*. Even more noteworthy were the boulders that we didn't finish; establishing new projects for the future and laying down lots of groundwork without the glory of the top. It was fulfilling nonetheless and often resulted in a much harder climbing session. We await the day we can hatch our 'nest-eggs'.
Sam working the moves on Sur-Prises (7b+/7c). One of the routes that got away...
We drove north in a mostly relaxed fashion (aside from the odd 'deviation') until we reached Calais. There were refugees running across the motorway and camped out in surrounding fields. It was rather grounding. These people have travelled as we have, except out of necessity not for fun, with no luxury and with the possibility of no home to return to. It was a bizarre feeling of just happening to have been born and raised on the 'right side' of the (razor wired and heavily fortified) fence.
So lost were we in their plight that we missed the Calais port turn off, and didn't notice until we saw a car ferry sign, but for Dunkerque. As we'd paid an extra 4€ for Calais to save on fuel, the absentminded drive to Dunkerque and back (only 25km each way...) was pretty dumb. Luckily we were actually on time. We blew across the channel by moonlight and reached Dover in the early hours. On the drive, we had possibly the strangest encounter of the whole trip; the M20 was lined with lorries on the opposite side for about thirty miles or so. Having not watched the news, we were unaware of Cameron's fantastically named 'Operation Stack' and were bemused by the set up. Better informed, we remain bemused...
So here we are, back on our island, sat on our arses, typing this waffle, and completely unable to think of a suitable way to round this off.
*The sHitlist Highlights 2.0
Cascade (7a), Bois Rond
Side Show Bob (6b), Franchard Isatis
Undertow flash (7a), Franchard Cuisinière
Bouddah assis flash (6b), Franchard Isatis
Témoin Gévéor (7a+), Buthiers Piscine
Magic Bus (7b+), Buthiers Piscine
Concept (7a), Apremont Ouest
Jiu-Jitsu (6b), Apremont
La Quille (6b+/6c), Bois Rond
F1 flash (6b/6b+), Bois Rond
Pas Glop! (6a), Franchard Cuisinière
Ouzo (5c), Franchard Cuisinière
Chair de Poule (6a), Franchard Cuisinière
Bouddha assis (6b), Franchard Isatis
La Voie Lactée (6a), Buthiers Piscine
Low Rider (6b+/6c), Buthiers Piscine
La Crabe (5c+), Apremont
Le Chien flash (6a), Apremont