(picture bellow the story!)
After a few weeks of cycling and camping in France which was pretty wet and cold I was looking for some warmer weather and decided to head towards Italy. Being in the western Alps I didn’t have to many route options in the middle of May for cycling to Italy. Many mountain passes were still closed and a lot of tunnels were forbidden for bicycles. After some research I made a decision and left Chambery towards the south east heading for Turino. Shortly before the Italian border I had to make my way up to 2080 meters above sea level crossing over the “Col du Mont Cenis” mountain pass.
I expected cold weather and plenty of snow on top of the pass so I decided to camp somewhere not to far away from the last ascent but also not too high. This would give me enough time on the next day to cycle up the mountain pass, to descent and to find myself a camp spot somewhere in lower altitude.
In the evening of the day before I crossed the border to Italy I found myself cycling through a beautiful mountain valley but in the same time good wild camp spots weren’t easy to find as there simply wasn’t a lot of space beside the road in the valley before the mountains started rising out of the ground. Cold rain which soon turned into snow as I progressed along my route made me look for a sheltered camp spot and there it was!
After one more turn I looked to the left where I saw a little gravel road leaving the main road, a small wooden bridge crossing a small river and at the end of the road a small hole in the mountain. Continuing my way up the road without checking this possible camp spot was no option. The weather was too bad and the idea of sleeping in a mountain cave seemed to good and I was not disappointed.
The entrance of the cave was pretty small and I didn’t expected something big. I was wrong! After pushing my bike up the last meters to the entrance I got proved wrong. The cave was way bigger than I thought and even better the ground was pretty smooth for setting up a tent. First thing I did was exploring the cave a bit more before I decided to sleep there. I took my headlamp and slowly made my way into the mountain. My headlamp is pretty bright but still had no chance to illuminate much of the cave. I estimate that I walked into the mountain for about 100 meters before I decided that to turn around. I couldn’t see the entrance anymore from where I came from and it seemed that I still wasn’t even close to the end of this hole.
After I found my way back to the entrance there was no doubt for me that this would be my place to sleep for the night. I quickly set up my tent and started preparing some food. While sitting in the cave waiting for my food to be ready I thought a little bit more about my tents location. It was standing in the middle of the cave where the cave was pretty high. I didn’t think about it too much in the beginning but after a while it seemed pretty stupid to me to leave it in this position. If a piece of the roof would get loose and fall down it would have a lot of energy to crash my tent. Even if the chance maybe would have been really small that something like this would happen I decided to minimize this chance as much as possible. After finishing my daily ration of lentil curry I moved my tent right next to a wall of the cave with not much free space above my tent. I also used some wooden planks which I found at the entrance of the cave to build a small roof above my tent which would protect me from smaller rocks falling down.
From my tent I had a good view out of the cave looking at the mountains on the other side of the valley. Whilst watching the mountains turning more and more white, I was sitting in the cave warming myself on a small fire, carving a small spoon out of a small piece of wood I had found in the cave and having some hot tee to drink, I think I never felt more like a Stone Age man.
This cave in the French Alps was with no doubt one of the more special wild camp spots I had so far and definitely one of my favorite ones.