Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins
We rose after a glorious, wine and french-food induced sleep to the brilliant sunshine blanketing Pralognan-la-Vanoise’s lush alpine valley. After a long, tiring journey, it felt like heaven to finally sleep. Our “rucksacks” (as the Brits call them) were packed and ready to go. My body and soul were ready, eager and anxious to begin. I could hardly wait to begin the journey.
Since I would be carrying my pack for the entire week and I have a chronically bad neck and shoulders, I packed extremely light. I wore my daily hiking attire consisting of lightweight hiking shorts, wool hiking socks with liners, dri-fit shirt, sunhat and shades. My backpack included:
- One pair of convertible hiking shorts.
- Two pairs of underwear.
- Two dri-fit short-sleeve tops.
- One pair of wool hiking socks and liners.
- One long-sleeve dry-fit pullover.
- One lightweight waterproof jacket and pants.
- One minuscule quick-drying towel.
- One sleeping bag liner for the huts.
- Minimal toiletries packed as lightly as possible (shampoo in ziplock bags, mini size lotion, tooth brush, sunscreen, etc).
- And as I would learn, most important of all, earplugs.
My pack securely fit one large bottle for drinking water on one outside compartment and my newly-purchased larger camera on the other side, for easy access. It weighed about 15 pounds. I would do wash daily but at least my back would hopefully hold out.
We ate a leisurely french breakfast of warm, buttery croissants with homemade jellies, cheese, meats, fruit, freshly-squeezed orange juice and strong cafe au lait. I cherished every last bite of my flaky, perfect croissant knowing very well that food in the mountain huts would never taste this good.
By half past nine we were out the door, packs on our backs and ready to start our journey of La Tour de La Vanoise. Today would be our shortest, easiest day. I had no complaints about starting this way as I knew the hike would get harder and more tiring as the week went on. Our tour would be a loop circling around the park, meandering up the peaks and down the valleys of this magnificent gem.
We left town feeling excited and energized about our day. The weather was postcard perfect with a brilliant blue sky, gorgeous warm sun and a gentle breeze. We knew that this trip was going to be one we’d never forget and that it was.
Here are some pictures from along the way of day to the start of Vanoise National Park. I took too many great photos to include in this post so I am breaking it down into morning and afternoon.
As we entered the park, I felt jubilant and finally at peace. For there is nothing I love more than hiking in the great big outdoors. What I had seen over the last few hours was only a glimpse into the utter spectacular beauty of what was to come. I could hardly wait to continue on….
Stay tuned…A picnic lunch in the middle of the Alps and our arrival at our first day’s destination, Col de la Vanoise, coming up next!
For more information on Le Parc national de la Vanoise, check out the park’s official website here in french and english.
Stunning. The peace comes through the page – love the pictures and can’t wait to taste the baguettes and croissants next week! 😉
Thanks!!! Wish I could have them sent via computer directly to my house….
If you figure out how to do that, please don’t forget to tell me how!! 😉
Whew! I’m pooped…that was a great hike! What a beautiful place.
Ha Ha….you are making me laugh! It was exhausting yet so exhilarating as well! 🙂
I think there might be a new stop on our bucket list of things to do in France. =) Great photos!
You would love it! My place had a pool too! You could always do day hikes from there and base yourself at the hotel and then stop in Annecy. It was gorgeous too with a huge lake!
Journey to Mysterious mountains !
You really do see the most magical sights, Nicole. Thanks for sharing your photos. 🙂
You’re welcome! Thank you as well for sharing your lovely blog which I truly enjoy! 🙂
Nicole, I really never thought a post about hiking could make me so hungry! But wow, what a perfect place for a French picnic. That photo of the baguette tucked into the backpack is so cute.
And I love the opening quote: “The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it.” That is the personal challenge of traveling (whether by foot or by plane) that I love most: reconciling our expectations and prejudices with reality.
Just you wait…the post will make you hungrier when I show you the picture of a trove of french cheese! And the endless bottles of Vin de Savoie. I sure love France! 🙂
Just amazing beyond words. Every image is just as spectacular as the next!
Thanks so much!
Let me just say that your blog is incredible. The photos and stories really make me feel like I’m traveling with you even when I’m trapped behind my desk. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures and please accept this award for all of your hard work: http://jweberle.com/2012/08/30/its-a-major-award/
You are so kind! I truly appreciate it! Comments like yours are what keep me writing. Thank you so much! 🙂
what a wonderful journey! you take wonderful photos!!!
Thank you so much! Really glad you enjoyed!
Nicole: I just started this adventure with you, but it is beautiful and the flowers remind me of the hikes Rose and I took last year in British Columbia. thanks! TA
Thank TA for checking it out! I am slow to get this whole adventure written as other posts have gotten in the way. But I’ll eventually get there. It was absolutely beautiful and I would LOVE to go to BC someday!!!! Nicole