An alternate to the GR5 – into the Vanoise National Park

In the morning i chat with the other solo hiker from England, we are both going for the Vanoise High Route, witch is a variant to the official GR5, he asks if i’m interested in hiking along with him, i’m a bit hesitant as the blister i painfull this morning and i don’t want to rush along, i also have plans to go down into Tigne to resupply and to get gas and some more Leuko-tape.

We agree to meet later at Refuge de la Leisse, it’s only like 15km, but i might want to have a short day today to recover my feet a bit, and as i’m behind on my schedule i can now go as i please, thou i have to go from hut to hut as i am now in the Vanoise Nationalpark and it’s forbidden to stealth-camp.

The refuge, going over the crest to get to Tignes

Nice trail towards Tigne

Tigne in the morning sun

The trail down to Tigne is nice but steep at places, i cross a mountainbike trail, again i would like to ride down that one! Just before i get down i see Malcolm leaving the town just 100m below, he has already been into town, damn he’s fast for a 56 year old man.
There’s hardly any people in town, i guess it’s the same as in the last town, it’s only open in the summer months of July and august, and all thru the winther. No gas in the small supermarked, but i do get a roll of tape and som food for the next days, on my way out of town i have a nice long second breakfast at a picknick table overlooking the lake, it’s nice with fresh food!

Looking toward the mountains, i came from the right top corner and going up to the left. Super nice with fresh food

Getting out of town is difficult, there’s no signs anywhere, and i have to go by general direction at first, but i manage to find the trail under the ski-lifts, it’s a long way up to Col de la Leisse, almost 1000m, i take i slow and easy in the hot sunshine, the views are getting incredible the further up i go, the next section is just as good as the one from yesterday, i’m not alone thou! But i manage to enjoy it none the less, the trail is slowly descending over a long and very nice stretch of pure heavenly singletrail.

At the top i have some bread and cheese while having a nice break out of the blowing wind.

Nice trail from Tigne

The last bit down to the refuge is just so beautiful, Malcolm i there and as it’s only 14.30 so we decide to go to Refuge du Col du Vanoise, 3½ hour, 15km and 500m further away… it’s doable! I think… I hope!

These high alpine “meadows” are just the best

More alpine meadows

The view from Refuge de la Leisse

Malcolm is having a little trouble with he’s knee, and when we arrive at the steep climb up toward the refuge, he stays behind to soak he’s knee in the cold mountain river,

Malcolm and his huge and heavy backpack


The trail is like walking on never ending stairs, it’s so hard, but i make it! and have a small break at the top, this is the beginning of yet another beautiful High alpine meadow, i get to see a small heard of Chamois grazing in the shallow water at the other side of the lake, so nice! again i’m on my own and enjoying it fully.

Huge mountains, the trail you can se is a variant, that connect’s back to the GR5, but i’m on the High Route

Again in the high alpine meadows

There’s a tiny heard of Chamois at the far end of the lake

Just as i spot the refuge, a big heard og teenagers are on the trail coming toward me… it’s awful 😉 maybe there isn’t any room at the refuge with all them teenagers?
i got the last 2 beds in the refuge, the refuge is huge and can fit all the 50ish teenagers and the 20ish hikers, again i get a big beer while i wheat for Malcom to arrive. theres teenageres everywhere! a 1/2 hour pass before Malcom show’s up, i have a beer with him!

The group of 4 english hikers are here as well, and we are again at the same table for dinner, this time we have a nice chat around the table, it’s nice. in the middle of dinner the landlady comes to our table and says to Malcom and me that they have made an error and they infect dont have beds for us! but we can sleep in the old Refuge where all the staff is living, it’s fine with us!

After dinner i have a lovely shower, it’s 2€ for 5mins of hot water, but totally worth it!

It’s light’s out at 21.00, we have the whole ground story to our self, even our own toilet

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