Thirdeyemom

The ultimate hike: Day 4 in Vanoise National Park

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.

After a fabulous night’s sleep in our very own Chalet de grade (guards hut) I was ready to start day four of our week-long trek in Vanoise National Park. The Chalet proved charming, basic and serendipitously quiet for a peaceful night’s sleep of five.In the middle of the night, I had to use the loo and was awestruck by nature’s light show of dazzling stars shining brightly above my head. I knew tomorrow would be another perfect, cloudless day. And that it was.

Setting off in the morning on a long, six hour hike.


We rose easily feeling a bit sore and stiff after three full days of ups and downs in the Alps. We had a gorgeous day of walking ahead and a real treat for the evening: A stay at perhaps the finest refuge in Vanoise National Park. Refuge Peclet-Poiset is known as a true luxury refuge with rumored the best french mountain cuisine around. That alone was enough to make me have a spring in my step for the food over the last three days had been extremely mediocre. The only thing good was the wine and the cheese. But what else would you expect in France?

We set off for our longest hike of the trek, passing some lovely traditional stone dwellings in the lush valleys below. I wondered what it would be like to live here in the summers as a shepherd. Would it be utterly peaceful or lonely as hell?

Our hike would be the hardest one of the tour with a morning push up to one of the highest points of the park. If we were lucky, we’d have a spectacular view of the snow-covered Alps with Mount Blanc rising above the clouds. I kept my fingers crossed.

As always, the time didn’t bother me and I got lost in the moment. I took plenty of photos and enjoyed the company of our hiking friends. I was feeling stronger and more fit, a good sign that encouraged me to press ahead at a decent pace. There were plenty of beautiful things to take photos of. I continually found a new kind of flower or an unusual view along the way that I hadn’t captured before.

Pretty mountain flowers.

One thing I truly loved about Vanoise National Park is how well the trails are marked. There are signs everywhere along the way making it effortless to find your way. It is very possible to do the trek without a guide however we find that the guide brings a lot of added value to the trip that you would never get on your own. For instance, a good guide knows the perfect spots for a picnic lunch or the best place to find wildlife. He or she has keen eyes to spotting a Chamois miles away or for finding the best refuge to spend the night.

But best of all, a true guide is a teacher about life, nature, wilderness and culture itself. If you are a good listener and conversationalist, you are bound to learn a lot.

Trail map indicating the direction and distance to each refuge.

Looking back and saying goodbye to Dent Parachee. You can see the ski lifts in the background as this is a ski resort in the winter.

We caught up to our crazy German friend, the guy we had met the night before drinking genipies with the best of them and walking solo from Geneva to Nice. He gave us a fitting pose of his personality. I wonder if he made it. I guess I’ll never know.

Heading up…..

Rare flower growing out of the rocks.

The views continued to get better and better as we neared the upwards hike to the Col. It was simply breathtaking. I enjoyed taking a few short stops along the way to rest and snap more photos. What I’ll do with all 800 of them, I have no idea.

As we reached our final upward push to the top of the Col de Chaviere the terrain became exceedingly more difficult. It was rocky, steep and slippery. Thankfully the altitude wasn’t much. Nothing like the Himalayas in Nepal. Yet it was still quite an effort to climb up to the top.

Some sheep along the way.

Mama and baby.

Almost there! Look how blue the sky was! We would get to see Mont Blanc!

The last remnants of snow. In June, this was covered and not passable.

Getting closer….more clouds rolling in…

I was amazed to see the perseverance of these flowers! Growing out of rock and at such high altitude.

Finally, the top of the Col is in sight. I can hardly wait to reach the top and get my view….

Stay tuned…you are in for a treat with some delightful views of the peaks of the Alps.

20 comments

  1. I think that you are starting to share my obsession with blue skies! Great post – the photos of the sheep are precious. Another source of life in a place that you may feel very alone. I’ve never had much desire to go hiking, but you are awakening another side of me.

    • Oh I bet you would LOVE hiking. It sounds hard or maybe uninteresting but truly it is wonderful. It doesn’t have to be a hard hike, even just walks are wonderful! 🙂 I just love being outside so much. It makes me feel so alive.

  2. Gorgeous photos! I went hiking over the weekend on the rocky steep side of Bear Mountain… It was grueling and even a tad scary but once we reached the top… i felt a great sense of accomplishment 😉

  3. This is beautiful! I especially liked the little shepherd’s hut – it is exactly what I imagined the Alpine huts in Heidi (my favorite book!) looked like.

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