Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Lac de Tanay and thereabouts

Walker's Paradise - find it if you can!

TheLac de Tanay (or variously on the maps and trailsigns: "Taney") hides out at about a mile high over the Lake of Geneva (or variously on the maps and local languages: "Lac Léman" or "Genfersee"), and very likely you've never heard of it.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Kristin's visiting, November 2006, and we're just back from a week hobbling around in her old "stomping grounds" in Rome, Italy, so we thought we'd just have a brief look-in at the Lac de Tanay. And Kristin's uncanny sixth-sense on the Web found us the P'tite Auberge, the only one of the three inns at Lac de Tanay that ventures to see you right through the off-peak period.

We've pissed off from work a little early and got to the trailhead at Le Flon (1050m), high above the end-of-the-lake town of Vouvry, just at 4 p.m. on a Friday, and THIS is the view upward. Never mind, we're on our way, an hour's walk up to the Col de Tanay some 400 metres up the hill. Our host from the P'tite Auberge drove his 4x4 down and picked up our backpacks, so we fairly danced like the lithesome lass of Kent the rest of the way up to the Tanay lake, and arrived precisely at Happy Hour.

Happy Hour at the P'tite Auberge in the off-season. Our host and hostess are as friendly and hospitable as any host and hostess you've ever met in your entire lifetime. Here's their Web site: http://www.lactanay.ch. The rustic private rooms are, by normal Swiss hotel standards, free (35 SFr ppn).

Kristin reveling in, nearly rolling about in, the International Herald Tribune, and getting ready to order the magret de canard at bargain basement prices, two giant ducks served on ardoises (or heated slates), with rösti, baked apples, salades with herbs in, a murderously luxurious gastronomic experience entirely unexpected at 1415m altitude in the Préalpes. So we immediately booked in for another night.

Next morning, still stuffed full of magret de canard from last night, not to mention the breakfast of homemade braided bread, mountain jams, ham, and local cheese, we're heading somewhat stumbly off for a hike up into the nearby mountains. Note the carved wooden marmotte at the head of the driveway. The marmottes are still out, we heard them siffling throughout our hike -- in late November. That's Mr Bush's Global Warming for you. They ought to have been snoozing happily in their little burrows by now.

The village chapel. The local folks probably say mass there once a week, two celebrants at a time, with a long line outside the door. (Except that this is a Protestant canton, and saying mass might well be actionable in the courts.)

A look back at the Lac de Taney, unfortunately in disadvantageous light, 25 November 2006.

Les Jumelles ("the Twins") overlooking Tanay.

Kristin considering her hiking options, which are many and varied. The local hiking mountain is Le Grammont (2172m), with stunning views out over Lake Geneva, but we're headed up to Lovenex instead.

Marching up through Tanay village, headed for the col in the center of the photo.

A view back down upon Tanay from halfway up the path, with the Leysin Tours in the distance.

Thanks to Mr Bush's Global Warming, we can spend our normal November Alpine Freeze in shirtsleeves, 26 November 2006.

The region called Montagne de l'Au (also called Montagne de Loz, pronounced the same), with our first destination up behind that farm building.

Layers on in a stiffening wind, with the Chalet de Montagne de l'Au in the middle of the bowl.

The Montagne de l'Au, with the Dent du Velan on the right horizon, on the French border.

The Leysin Tours (Tour de Mayen, Tour d'Aï) glorious on the horizon.

Kristin near the Pas de Lovenex (1853m), with the slightly indecent Grande Miette peeking over in the centre.

A small pond at 1835m just near the Pas de Lovenex. Time for lunch??

Hey. It's always time for lunch. (Kristin's in this photo, too; can you tell where?)

Kristin and lunch. Schwarzwälder ham and Vacherin de Fribourg.

Just the label of a packet of Schwarzwälder smoked ham is worth a good read through. Fantastic stuff (probably illegal in the US under FDA rules, which are written to protect against the corner-cutting practices of big industrial meatpackers, and end up banning the artisans at the same time).

At the Pas de Lovenex, 1853m. There had been 10cm of snow two days earlier but southern California temperatures since then, so it's very mixed walking.

From the col (1853m), looking due-north down at the Lac de Lovenex (1632m), the Lake of Geneva (ca.390m), and the small city of Vevey on the far side.

Vevey on Lac Léman, November 2006.

The thrusting elegance of Grande Miette and the Col de la Croix (1755m). The Croix, or cross, is on that next hill in the background.

Where to now?

Another look at the Leysin Tours. There cannot be too many photographs of the Leysin Tours. The turning restaurant Kuklos is visible on the Berneuse, but you won't find it unless you know exactly where to look.

Kristin studying animal tracks in the snow. Bouquetin! Capra ibex, the famous mountain goat.
We're off in pursuit.

Our first bouquetin. In fact, we're in the middle of a nature reserve, so he's not particularly alarmed by our presence.

Now he's crossing our path, heading up the lapiéz (or carved-out limestone rocks), towards the hidden bowl and little lake called La Combe. He's got two little guys with him at this point.

For casual nature photographers like ourselves, the bouquetins will hold a photographic pose like this for as long as you like for 2 US dollars each. (No credit cards.)

Photo Op finished and cash in hand, Dad marshals his guys and leads them off up the mountain . . .

. . . and they follow at a trot.

A few more stand sentinel above us.

We're headed up into the dead-end of La Combe, strangely drawn upwards, looking for more ibex, as the day darkens and the weather comes in a bit. We can't stop.

Another sentinel.

And the rest of his family, or entourage, or sub-clan, or whatever the bouquetin call it. The Big Chief, all his wives, all his kids, and a couple of submissive younger male hangers-on, by the looks of things. The excess full-grown males seem to wander all about in little packs on their own, without females. Some disrupted human societies seem to fall into the same pattern (but with AK-47s).

All the moms, getting ready for evening-fall.

The herd, or pack, or pride, or gang, head over into the cliffs to our right.

Even the little kids are amazingly sure-footed. (Camping over near the Orny glacier many years ago, I got to watch a mom and dad painstakingly training a youngster for over an hour in how to leap from crag to crag.)

Kristin is a cute-wildlife freak and can't be got away from watching them. And the weather is closing in over the mountain.

Two females fighting. It's the rutting season now. But they don't seem to be fighting over the snooty male who's watching them from the lower right. It's probably a non-rutting private matter known only to themselves.

Kristin with the Cornettes de Bise on the horizon.

The Cornettes de Bise in the centre. The French-Swiss border runs right over the top. Once upon a time, the narrator had an annual running route from Le Flon (1049m) up the next valley to the Col de Verne and over to the top of the Cornettes de Bise (2432m) in an hour and a half, and then down through this lovely countryside past the Montagne de l'Au and the Lac de Taney back to Le Flon in about an hour-twenty. It was excellent albeit knee-jarring exercise, but it's painful now to think of the wonderful views like this that there was never time to contemplate at leisure.

Nature freak, pleased with all the bouquetins.

Passing a little farm at 1911m.

An orator at the lake at La Combe, about 1920m. It was only a pose. He wasn't orating anything at all. And never has. It's just a pose.

The view from the pond at La Combe up Mont Gardy (2198m). The Pas de Lovenex is on the far side of that big boy.

Kristin spotting additional bouquetins.

Mr Peck in a rare contemplative mood, with the Cornettes de Bise in the background.

The alpha male in his classic rutting snooty pose.

Like this, the classic rutting pose. Sniffing for something. Let's leave him to his unpleasant traditions and go get another superb dinner-montagnard down at the P'tite Auberge.

A last view of the P'tite Auberge as we head out on Sunday morning, with appointments to keep later in the day unfortunately. If you can find a way to come to this astonishing rustic inn for a day or two, kill anyone who tries to get in your way, including your boss, if necessary.

The nearby mountain Alamon upside-down in the lake.

A last look at Tanay village as we pass over the Col de Tanay.

Kristin dashing back down the path to Le Flon, whilst aging knees slow the rest of the party down somewhat. She's exceedingly anxious to check out the news on The Guardian on-line.

Back again for the magret de canard and some more hiking


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 3 December 2006, revised 11 April 2013.


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