Sunday 20th August: Day 1, Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise, Pralognan to Refuge du Roc de la Peche

When the alarm went off at 7.15, we jumped out of bed ready to start our trek. By 8.30 we were ready and locked the van and left.

Straight away, the path climbed steeply from the campsite, backwards and forwards in a series of zigzags, into the forest, with intermittent views over the campsite, the village of Pralognan and the surrounding mountains.

We passed a viewpoint with a bench, and another over some waterfalls. The edge of the footpath dropped away steeply at times, and there were chains to hold on to and wooden bridges across gullies.

Eventually we emerged from the forest but it was still shady and cool so the ascent didn’t seem too bad. We had to scramble and use our hands at times. The rock was very slippery in places and, at one point, I fell and banged my shin. Ouch! Our new poles are great and have really helped.

Finally, we started the ascent to Col Valette and the views changed, looking over glaciers, Lac de la Vallette and the Refuge de la Vallette. We chatted to an English girl who is working in a local hotel for a while.

We had a drink at the refuge, then continued on our way. It was downhill for a while now, with views in yet another direction.

We crossed lots of streams then the path contoured the hillside, undulating up and down fairly gently. We could see Refuge du Roc de la Peche where we’re staying tonight.

Then we passed a small lake… a beautiful spot… where a few people were enjoying a picnic. Once again, we saw very few people while we were hiking.

The path then descended through meadows with cows and old buildings, before steeply dropping down and crossing a bridge over a river. Now it wasn’t far to the refuge.

At the refuge we were shown to our room. We have it all to ourselves, and we have our own shower! We showered and John did the washing, and now we’re sitting with a beer enjoying the sunshine and the awesome views while we wait for dinner. A perfect end to a perfect day.

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