“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away”. – Anonymous
We rose feeling well rested and well loved after our wonderful night’s stay in such a heavenly place. My stomach ached from eater and drinker’s remorse but I knew it was deserved after such an enormous, gourmet french meal. In a few hours after hiking, I’d be fine and hungry once again, as the calories I consumed magically burned off.
We set off into the fog, our first day that wasn’t perfect. Despite the lack of a decent view, the fog was a welcome surprise as it kept us cool as we climbed back up into the Alps.
I was really looking forward to today’s hike, our fifth and longest hike of the trek in Vanoise. After four full days of hiking, we would reach the highest point of the trek, the fantastic Col de Chaviere, and if it cleared up we would have a sensational view of Mount Blanc soaring above the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. It would be amazing.
We passed through a lovely mountain village with charming traditional stone dwellings. It was most likely a summer retreat for a lucky few who could afford an additional home in the Alps. We didn’t see a soul around but then again, the weather wasn’t the best.
The misty fog made the whole atmosphere seem dreamlike. It was so beautiful even if we didn’t have the views. I liked it and found lots of beautiful things along the way to photograph. The group by now understood my insanity with pictures. I was nearing 600 by this point and they just chuckled and passed me by as I snapped away.
I bet they are jealous now!
The fog hung low, blanketing the velvety-green mountainside. Although it kept things cool, I was finally starting to hope it would burn away. I knew that the views would be better in the brilliant sun, especially this one below of the majestic waterfalls draining down from the melting glaciers above.
About twenty minutes later, my prayers had been miraculously answered and the fog began to rise and did our chance of seeing Mont Blanc at the top. If we hurried, we would see her lovely white snow-capped peak majestically bursting out of the clouds.
We passed this funny freshwater drinking spout and I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of the name! No, it wasn’t wine but still the thought of it made me laugh and become rather thirsty…
As we climb higher, our guide Mark asks us to be aware and on the look out for the infamous Patou, or mountain sheep dogs. The Patous are raised since birth with their flock of sheep and they will protect them until their death. Thus it was extremely important to give them space and not look them in the eyes if you approach them.
We spotted our first dog in the rising fog but it was not a patou and just a farmer’s dog out on a stroll.
Yet warning signs lurked…
And finally on day 5 we saw our first Patou. It was gorgeous and looked like a Grand Pyrénées. I am a huge dog lover but after all the warnings I felt a bit apprehensive. Thankfully the patou was behind a fence. We kept our distance and moved as fast and inoffensively as we could away from his reach. My heart skipped a beat thinking how easy it would be for the patou to jump the fence despite how harmless he looked, his teeth could kill.
A little further on, we also spotted an adorable pair of marmots who looked rather well fed and cuddly.
It wouldn’t be much longer now until we would arrive at our stopping point for lunch. Mark told us that this spot was special and perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the park for a picnic lunch. It was located just above the hill and we were in for a surprise.
As we reached the top of the hill and looked down, we were filled with a breathless sense of awe at the beauty of what we saw. The most idyllic setting at the foot of an aquamarine lake for lunch.
At first sight, it took my breath away.
This post is a continuation of my series on my hiking trip, Tour de la Vanoise. To read more of these posts, click here.