The Garmin GPSMap 64s

Garmin GPSMap 64s
For 10 years I used the Garmin GPSmap60CSX. I used it with Garmin maps that had no altitude model and then migrated to the new altitude based maps. In south-central France, these maps were pretty accurate. The device was sturdy too, but I finally gave up on it when the clip holding the map chip in place broke and it was no longer easy to keep the chip in place under the batteries. A small piece of cardboard folded into an accordeon shape usually worked, but every time I changed the batteries, the chip came loose. It came loose if bumped while hiking too. This became a non starter after a while.

So I switched to a newer version – the 64s. What’s new with this one ? A new menu system that took time to get used to. A new desktop software package – Basecamp – that also took some time after giving up on Mapsource. The maps no longer transfer to the desktop, unless the device is tethered. There is a new compass that needs less calibration. The device seems to be more accurate and gets a faster fix on position possibly due to the use of both GPS and Glonass satellite clusters. There are new maps with a different rendering style in Basecamp – not better – just different.
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Bell gables

bell gable, Pas de Bres, Ardèche
bell gable, Pas de Bres, Ardèche
A common feature of Romanesque churches in south-central France is the bell gable. These constructions may have stacked rows of “eyes” in other regions, but in south central France, I have never seen any. All the ones pictured here are single level. While these gables may have 4 or more eyes on a single row, the eyes are not all necessarily equipped with bells. Continue reading “Bell gables”

Chabrolières

ruined Cistercian barn at Chabrolières
ruined Cistercian barn at Chabrolières
Chabrolieres : at the low end of a valley near the Vivarais Corniche, and just before the river flows into a ravine. With a little footwork and some navigation, you can end up staring up at an imposing but ruined Cistercian barn. No signposts, no information panels, no real road to get here and no roof on the barn. The building has lasted for centuries, but probably not much longer. The walls are too tall to stay standing with no roof to prevent water seepage. Continue reading “Chabrolières”

On the Puecheral

Hiking distance : 15 km ; Hiking time : 05:00

Issenges manor house
Issenges manor house
Near Florac in the Cévennes Causse region on the southwest flanc of Mount Lozère, one peak – the Puecheral – stands out from the others. On this day, the hike starts from Bedouès. In thick fog we set out for the summit at a modest 1000 m altitude. Fifteen kilometres in the fog can be very demotivating, but we hope for the best.

Ninety minutes out, the fog lifts, or rather the fog ceiling drops and we are suddenly in brilliant sunlight. Emerging from the gloom, we witness a spectacle of nature experienced only by those who take time to hike in the mountains. Valley floors of the Tarn, the Tarnon and tributaries covered in white fog, but peaks and plateaus in such intense light the eyes almost hurt. This is wintertime, so the low angle midday sun provides sidelit contrasts that are only visible a few months of the year. Continue reading “On the Puecheral”