A Jog Up to The Italian Border - L'Echalp to Col Lacroix (2299m) - GR 58 Variant and Tour du Pain de Sucre

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Thursday 13 August 2015

A Jog Up to The Italian Border - L'Echalp to Col Lacroix (2299m) - GR 58 Variant and Tour du Pain de Sucre

With 2 long days of hiking in our legs after our visits to Col Vieux and Refuge Viso we decided today that another day long hike wasn't on the cards for our slightly aching legs and feet. However, waking up in such a pristine setting as l'Echalp right at the head of the Guil valley in the heart of the Queyras is also a great motivator to get outside and get active and despite not wanting to commit to a huge walk we found ourselves setting off in the early morning sunshine for a much quicker, shorter adventure.

Travelling light with just a small water bladder and pair of emergency bananas between us and wearing hiking shoes/trainers instead of boots our target was the Col Lacroix at 2299mm, around 600m above our heads and straddling the French/Italian border. Hiking quickly away from the motorhome and using a combination of fast walking and jogging uphill while pushing forward with our trekking poles the metres soon began to fall away below us and we even passed several large hiking groups who gave us a rousing cheer! Emerging from the forest at around 2150m it wasn't long before the Col Lacroix itself came into view, a green v-shaped notched in the surrounding ridges and we arrived soon afterwards. It was a strange feeling to stand next to the dilapidated customs station looking out on mountains on both sides, yet one side was French and the other Italian!

A few quick snaps later and our quick descent began, pausing only a handful of times for some quick photos before arriving back at road level a little over an hour after setting off! It had been a challenging but exhilarating start to the day and led on into a peaceful afternoon of quiet reading and writing beneath the gathering clouds. It was good to have made the most of the sunny morning!

Jog done on 13th August 2015

Preparing to set off by Homer in the morning sun.

We take our first quick photo stop just a short way into the climb.

But after that keep going all the way to the Col Lacroix through forests and across exposed mountainside.

Still on French soil, but only just. That's Italy just past the crumbling border station.

And then the descent begins, looking back into the Queyras Regional Park

And some wonderful views of the mountains we'd been hiking alongside over the previous few days. 

Making quick progress downhill.

The floor of the Guil Valley is soon in sight.

And a well earned foot spa in the cold, cold waters of the Guil to cool off!

Followed by a nutritious post-run melon breakfast. Yum-yum!

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