Written June 18, 2013.
When the trail description warns of potential icy patches it’s probably not the best trail to attempt in mid-June in a year with below average spring temperatures and late May snows. None-the-less, lured by an unseasonably warm day, this intriguing 15K trail that climbs to a 2640 meter pass along the French/Italy border in the northern Provençal Alps enticed us all the same. And although we were underequipped, i.e., no trekking poles or crampons, and weren’t able to complete the loop, the views in the upper valley and the sound of the rushing waters of the spring run-off were well worth the trudge through soft snow and glacial creeks. Our shoes were soaking wet and our feet numb but we loved it.
The trail in better weather should be relatively easy to follow. In June, many sections of the upper trail (between #2 and #3) were under snow. However, as the trail generally follows the creek up through the valley to the pass, we could find the Mary pass (#3) using the map. Once at the pass the trail climbs steeply to the right. As it was completely covered in snow, we abandoned the loop trail and headed back the way we came.
From Les Alpes-de-Haute-Provence…à pied, #30 Mary – Marinet. Starting point: Maljasset on D25, 38 kilometers northeast of Barcelonnette. In the off season you can park at the trailhead near the church, about 500 meters past the town. There is also a parking lot above D25 just before Maljasset. The trail starts below the church. Follow the road that crosses the river and continue up through the trees. You should begin to see yellow and red blazes a short ways into the forest.