French Alps Trekking: Les Ecrins

19 Sep

11-14 September, 2016

I was at a loss for words to start this story.

Strange, since I’ve had four days of meditative walking in breathtaking scenery to loosen letters, rearrange them into words, and build sentences to tell you what transpired. Four days to adjust to jet lag, high altitude, an extra seven kilos on my back and 15 stitches holding my face together.

No prose came. Rien. Everything sounded too banal, ordinary, travelogue-like. I couldn’t do the experience justice.My philosopher son, one of three walking companions, rescued me. After our final steps Cameron and I sat on a sunny cafe terrace in the valley village of Le Bourg D’Oisans while Stuart did a huge load of washing. Cam is a natural writer, regularly journalling his thoughts. On this occasion he shared a page with me. I reproduce in its entirety here:“Walking is a wonderful teacher. It teaches you patience – the destination will come but not if you keep looking at it.

It teaches you to be where you are – there is nothing else to do but take in your surroundings.

It teaches you that the point of life is to fully embrace each step – not push away the discomfort but accept it because you can’t be anywhere else. The temptation is to rush up the hill to get it over with quickly, but you only end up tightening up and burning more energy than is necessary.

Walking teaches you to use only the amount of energy required for each step- are you tightening your shoulders, lifting your knees more than necessary, stamping your feet, straining your neck by looking at the ground rather than where you are? All of these things waste energy.

Life is not a journey, it is a series of steps – each one with its own magical blend of suffering and ecstacy.

If we rush to the end destination we find we’ve died without ever living.” (Cameron Elliott The Weekly Service )Thank you Cameron for being my guru. I take this lesson to heart and will use walking as a metaphor for all the challenges I face in this life.

To Darren McAulay of French Alps Trekking, merci for being an endlessly patient guide and host. Each day we walked approximately 15 kilometres through cultivated farm land, mountains and glacial wilderness with some challenging rises and more downhills than our bodies knew what to do with. I now know how different hiking with a day pack is to overnighting! It was an experience we could not have had on our own.Enough scribbling. Here is some evidence of the beauty, grandeur and cute critters we encountered in four days walking the Les Ecrins region of La Grave-La Meije in France.

Day One: Le Chazelet up to Plateau D’Emparis returning to ‘Le Chaz’ by the GR54 route. Overnight in Le Chazelet.

Day Two: Le Chazelet to Refuge De L’Alpe De Villar D’Arene. Overnight in the refuge.

Day Three: Refuge De L’Alpe De Villar D’Arene to Monetier Les Bains. Overnight in Gite le Flourou.

Day Four: Monetier Les Bains via Col du Lautaret to Villar D’Arene.


Darren’s vegan roast dinner was outstanding.Last view from Le Chaz.

8 Responses to “French Alps Trekking: Les Ecrins”

  1. trevor willis September 20, 2016 at 1:19 am #


  2. Stuart Elliott September 20, 2016 at 5:56 am #

    Great photos

    Stuart Elliott

    • Linda September 20, 2016 at 6:27 am #

      Love the knotted handkerchief Stuart!

  3. Linda September 20, 2016 at 6:26 am #

    Great words by Cameron and outstanding pics. Well done

    • Sharon Tickle September 20, 2016 at 11:37 am #

      Sometimes find it hard to believe he is our son Linda. Much more evolved than me ;-))

  4. Alyson McGrath September 20, 2016 at 11:38 pm #

    Love the words of wisdom from Cam and the stunning pics by you! Happy days. xx

    • Sharon Tickle September 26, 2016 at 3:26 pm #

      Thanks Alyson, my sons keep me humble. Sxx

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