GR58 Tour de Queyras - Hiking l'Echalp to Col Vieux in the Queyras Regional Park

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Tuesday 11 August 2015

GR58 Tour de Queyras - Hiking l'Echalp to Col Vieux in the Queyras Regional Park

This amazing hike from the head of the Guil valley, rising up from 1700m at l'Echalp to 2806m at Col Vieux, was definitely a physical challenge after almost 2 weeks since our last big hike, however, with such perfect alpine scenery and two stunning lakes on the route the time just flew by so fast we barely noticed. The picture postcard scene at l'Echalp is an ideal base to start a walk and as we joined the GR58 in the direction of Lac Egorgeou we soon entered the forest on the lower, craggy slopes. The path ascended quickly as we passed several families assisted by donkeys carrying their gear and soon emerged onto a more open plateau where we were very lucky to spot a deer dashing across the plain. Onwards and upwards we climbed, invigorated by the warm sun and high mountains on the horizon and what seemed like no time at all emerged at the calm and pristine Lac Egorgeou (2394m).

How we'd ascended 700m without barely noticing the effort says a lot about how in the moment we felt. Pausing only briefly for photos we continued on, climbing another 200m to the even higher Lac Foreant (2618m). Set in a rocky bowl with the sight of the imposing summit of Le Pain de Sucre (3208m) towering overhead this was a wonderful setting to reach. Stopping for a snack of fresh melon (our first meal of the day), we decided to go a little higher still, almost jogging up the rocky track to Col Vieux (2806m) from where we could gaze down on the Col d'Agnel and surrounding ridges of bare rock. It was a wonderful place.

Our descent felt equally swift, however, having not been on the trail for so long we really felt a deep connection to the nature around us and made a point of stopping to appreciate the view, particularly when we found ourselves at the foot of a beautiful waterfall just above Lac Egorgeou. Overall the hike took around 7 hours, although that did include quite a bit of staring on the way down. It was the perfect hike for us to remember what our hiking boots felt like after all.

Hike done on: 11th August 2015

Wildlife on display - this little fellow was singing loudly

Arriving at Lac Egorgeou....

Continuing Upwards - Arriving at and enjoying lunch by Lac Foreant

Reaching the top - Enjoying the view from Col Vieux - 2806m

The journey home begins, part of which even had a donkey for company. It's quite unsettling to be hiking at the blunt end of a donkey!

Resting our aching feet in the icy river Guil

Setting off early, a fellow hike offers to take a photo of us both

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