Author’s note: This is a continuation on my series of trekking La Vanoise National Park in the high Alps of France. To see all posts in this series, click here.
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.