French version

The Nivalp 2004 from the perspective of a copilot.


After leaving the Durance valley, we rode north until we got into the vicinity of Briançon, then down towards the south again by another route as far as Italy, north of Vintimille. We passed some splendid landscapes. On certain days, the road led us through difficult terrain, up a very steep slope and through many gullies, and the drivers were proud that they had overcome these obstacles.
The participants all had the same kind of car: Lada Niva. This is significant because the Lada is a car riddled with all sorts of defects, which the owners are the first to joke about, a sort of all-terrain 2CV. Among many different kinds of cars, we have found the most rugged of all, which we believe can contend with the most serious of them and come out ahead. In our group, however, some of the vehicles were old, and there was no lack of engine trouble, which resulted in a remarkable show of solidarity. Evenings we halted, often pitching camp on peaks or ridges; we were very busy: the guys made repairs, sometimes very large jobs which took until nightfall to finish, and then, covered with dirt and oil, they left to take showers with three liters of water, then returned to sit around the fire and eat the sausages which we had cooked. Those who did not have dirty oil on their hands oil helped set up the tents, served tea or aperitifs to everyone, including the mechanics (so it happened one night, we measured the tracking with the help of the "pastis-string" method).
Or they played with the two little girls in the group, refreshed their linguistic knowledge with the Spanish couple who did not speak French, and explored the surrounding countryside before nightfall. I also spoke with a couple of bee-keepers from Sospel. They had come seeking a change of location for their hives, because the flowering season in the mountains was nearing its end. They were going to move lower, further down the mountain under the fir trees.
–Isn’t it a little late for fir trees to be flowering? I asked. - The honey of fir tree is not made from the flowers, but with the nectar produced by the parasites on the fir tree, they answered me. Isn’t that surprising?
In order to make a fire, upon the final few kilometers of the rise, we had to collect dead wood. We loaded it where we could, on the roof, between the legs of the copilot, and even dragged it behind us on the road for several kilometers. Of course, the cord wears out rather quickly, it breaks and we had to stop to reattach it (photo)… These few days passed too quickly, but what an intense experience…!
Translation, Joel S. Carr (Scott) (usa)