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.

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” -
John Burroughs

Morning clouds over the Col de la Vanoise.

After a rough night’s sleep, I gathered my wits and set off with our group a little past nine o’clock to the rising sun. The fresh air seemed to help immensely and draw me in. Soon, my three-hour night’s sleep was all but a distant dream and I was in my element. Embracing life and breathing it all in with each and every step.

Before we departed, we gathered up all our belongings and shoved our picnic lunch for the day into our full packs. I was happy to leave the Col de la Vanoise hut and looked forward to our next refuge at l’Arpont, about a five hours hike away.

Water fill-up for the day’s hike at the Col de la Vanoise refuge. Fresh, icy cold.

It was another spectacular cloudless day. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sun sparkled, the mountains loomed and the air was as fresh and pure as can be. I felt more alive than I had in months, for I was in a spectacular setting, working my body and I was free.

Setting off…

Morning clouds

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” -
Helen Keller

As we rose over the crest of the hill, we saw a sparkling blue lake below. I had finally found serenity, for what could be more spectacular than the glorious views.

Climbing over the hill

To the beautiful brilliant blue lake below.


Christine and our guide Mark.

Another lake comes into view off in the distance. Lac de la Vanoise awaits. Some brave souls have stripped off their hiking clothes and are eagerly taking an icy cold swim. Not me. Instead I just embrace the view.

Goodbye beautiful view…there will be many more to come.

“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” -
Henry David Thoreau

I easily forgot my fatigue and continued along with my eyes wide open, stopping often to take yet another picture. As the day went on, I lost track of how many photos I took. One hundred. Two hundred. More? I could hardly resist as everything was a work of art, the sensational beauty that makes nature such a priceless gift.

As we hiked further into the depths of the mountains, people became less frequent and the terrain changed. The dirt path had vanished as a steeper, rockier trail appeared.  I could no longer watch the panoramic horizon and unfortunately had to keep my face down, watching each and every step along the way.

Where we were headed…

My dad and I….hiking partners!

The terrain steepens.

Once we reach a higher altitude, we coast up and down the winding trails.

We took a brief break for a snack and rest.  The view continued to get more fantastic each step of the way. I understand why Vanoise became the first national park in France. It is a treasure worth celebrating.

A couple taking a break and enjoying the panoramic view.

Stay tuned….the journey continues and more lovely pictures along the way.


  1. Your narration and the photos are excellent and I envy your trip. Have you ever done any solo backpacking? If so do you remember the emotion you felt as you realized, for the very first time, that you were totally alone in the wilderness, without another human within 50 miles. I’m curious about your feelings at that point in time because what I felt at that moment was a take your breath away feeling of elation, with a generous side order of claustrophobia. Yep claustrophobia. Didn’t last but a few seconds but there it was. Great story and it looks like you and your dad had a wonderful experience together.

    1. Thank you! I have never hiked alone. My dad does all the time but I think I wouldn’t last as I am a very social person and don’t like to be alone much. Interesting experience. Did you write about it?

      1. I never have but maybe I should. I’m not a writer even though I have a “blog” at
        It’s not really a blog, more a collection of vignettes from my life. I’m more of a reader I suppose. I’m a mountain freak and I really enjoyed the pictures in this post. I’ve been to the mountains and I’ll return, I’ve been to the beach and I won’t.

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