This year Fenneke and I didn't go the USA our Canada but decided to stay closer to home. We planned a road trip through Europe visiting various nice hiking locations in both France and the Italian alps and ending in the beautiful country side of Tuscany. Bellow you'll find our route:
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Day 1 - Saturday 16-06-2012
We left home at around 10:00 for an easy and relatively short drive down to Les Vosges in France. This would be our first stop during our trip through Europe this year. We planned to do a geocache near Han-Sur-Lesse in Belgium on the way, but when we got there it was raining heavily so we decided to drive on. After approximately six and a half hours we reached our destination, a nice chalet in Les Vosges. After receiving the keys we did some grocery shopping and ended the day with a nice BBQ.
Day 2 - Sunday 17-06-2012
On our first day in Les Vosges we started hiking around 10:45. Although the mountains in Les Vosges are not very high (1.000 - 1.500 meters) the hikes can still be demanding depending on where you go. Our hike started near Xoulces with an ascend of a couple of hundred meters. It was almost a year ago that we hiked in the mountains, so we had to get used to it again. We climbed various cols and ended up hiking 18,5 kilometers and ascended 1.000 meters.
Bellow you'll find a GPS track log and some pictures of this day:
View 2012-06-17 - Hiking @ Xoulces, Les Vosges in a larger map
Day 3 - Monday 18-06-2012
On our second day in Les Vosges we did another hike. This time we started near Wildestein from where we ascended towards col Pourri Fang where we had lunch in a beautiful forest. From there we headed to Col de Bramont which is a small ascended further up the mountain. After that we continued on to Rainkopf following a trail which obviously wasn't used much. On some places it was difficult to follow, but it was the best part of the entire hike. From Rainkopf we planned to climb two other cols, but the weather started to look grim so after enjoying the views from Rainkopf we started our descend back down to Wildestein which took us two hours. On the way down it started to rain with a small thunderstorm, so we were happy we decided to go back down. During the descend we saw three chamois (which is a type of goat-antelope) and an eurasian jay.
Bellow you'll find some pictures and a GPS track log of this hike:
View 2012-06-18 - Hiking @ Wildestein, Les Vosges in a larger map
Day 4 - Tuesday 19-06-2012
Today we decided to give our legs and feet a little rest so we took the car and drove to a nice town called Colmar. On the way there we got a good look on a few beautiful parts of Les Vosges. We stopped in Munster to have a look at all the white stork which are there in the center of town. It was a very cool sight to see them on the old cathedral and the surrounding houses. When we reached Colmar we parked the car and explored the old city center. There were lots of great looking houses, a beautiful cathedral and a church which we both visited. After enjoying a nice gaufre we started the drive back. We chose a different route and crossed Le Grand Ballon which is the highest mountain of Les Vosges. We had a great couple of days enjoying all that Les Vosges has to offer. We will certainly return here in the future.
Day 5 - Wednesday 20-06-2012
On Wednesday we drove from Les Vosges to the Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps which is just a four to five hour drive through Switzerland. We decided to leave the highway near Lake Geneva and drove through various towns on its shore including Montreux. We stopped to have lunch at a castle on the lake geneva shoreline (sounds familiar anyone?).
After lunch we drove to the Saint-Bernard pass. We didn't take the tunnel but decided to go over the pass. There was still a lot of snow there which we enjoyed a lot. There were also plenty of good views so it was a lot better than going through the tunnel. We ended the day with some wine and beer on the terrace of our studio apartment which we rented for the week. From there we had an amazing view of the snowy peaks and glaciers of the Gran Paradiso National Park.
Day 6 - Thursday 21-06-2012
On our first day in the Alps we decided to go for a lengthy hike of about 7,5 hours on the Gran Paradiso side of the Aosta valley. We started at 10:00 in Valnontey an ascended to rifugio Vittorio Sella at about 2.600 meters, on the way up we crossed a nice waterfall. From there we headed on to the two small ponds just 30 minutes passed the rifugio where we had lunch and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. From there we wanted to make a loop, but after crossing a couple of snow fields the trail traversed a very steep mountain side and became very narrow. I'm afraid of heights and I didn't dare to move on so we decided to turn around and head back. When we came back at the ponds we saw a group of Alpine ibex walking around and drinking from the lakes which was a very cool sight to see. We stopped there for a while to observe these animals in their natural and secluded habitat.
After a while we headed back down and we and ended the day on the terrace of our studio. We had a great first day in the Alps hiking 16,4 km and enjoyed our first Alpine hike in year a lot.
Bellow you'll find pictuers and a GPS track log:
View 2012-06-21 - Hiking @ Valnontey, Aosta #1 in a larger map
Day 7 - Friday 22-06-2012
On our second day in the Aosta Valley we drove to the Mont Blanc massif, more specifically to Val Ferret where we hiked up to rifugio Elena. From there we ascended the Grand Col Ferret pass at about 2.530 meters near the Swiss / Italian border. On the way there we crossed a couple of small snowfields. We wanted to continue on to bivacco Fiorio and from there make a loop back down. When we crossed the small pass after Grand Col Ferret we immediately spotted a large snowfield on the trail of the steep flanks of the mountain. When we reached the snowfield there where no footprints or markings indicating somebody recently crossed it. We thought it looked to unstable to cross, so we decided to head back the same way we came. While we descended back to rifugio Elena we spotted a large male Alpine Ibex above our trail. It's large horns where a great sight to see. After enjoying him for a while we descended further down to our car and drove back to our studio appartement where we ended the day in the small garden enjoying some wine and beer.
Bellow you'll find some pictures and a GPS track log:
View 2012-06-22 - Hiking @ Val Ferret, Aosta #2 in a larger map
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