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.
addicted to snuggling off to the Petite Auberge at the Lac de Taney, hiking and
dining fine and photographing the ibex, and here we are again, mid-October 2009.
The P'tite Auberge on 17 October 2009. Our host has come down the mountain to fetch us at the trailhead at Le Flon (Miex), 1050m asl, above Vouvry near Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) -- we want to get a sprinting start on today's hike without walking an hour up to Tanay first.
It's time now, noonish, to set up a loping pace up the hill to find out where the ibex are today -- our host informs us that, when the first snow comes, they're instantly unpredictable.
Daughter Alison making sure that her ibex-seeking digital super-camera is loaded with film, or numbers, or something.
Camera's ready; Alison's ready; I'm ready, too, so we're off, following our guide up into ibex country.
The Lac de Tanay with its first snow of the year
The village of Tanay, at 1415m asl, pretty much shuts down for the winter (except for our P'tite Auberge), and the mid-October snow may have caught the other two hotels by surprise.
Our guide today, Kristin, crosses the creek out of town and leads on for the heights.
A look back down at the village and lake after a good start. No ibex so far.
Kristin and a little waterfall -- time for a lunch break
A lunch break. Our guide's feet, like the hotels of Tanay, have been caught by surprise by the snow. Sneakers are better than "hiking sandals" here, but not much better.
Taking chilly-feet counsel
Cold feet and a rethink. No ibex yet. Nor "bouquetins", the French-speaking ibex.
Kristin and her sneakers are headed back to the cheery auberge; though deserted by our guide, we're determined to find the damn goats wherever they may be hiding.
The Cornettes de Bise are up there somewhere, but you'd never know it today.
One of the most reliable ibex haunts round here is the little lake at La Combe, so we're compelled to have a look.
We're peering all about through the foggy sort of weather -- nada -- two years ago at about this time of the year, they were all over these hillsides, performing for us, making weird noises and snooting their noses rudely in the air sometimes, welcoming us almost.
Alison, always a trooper, carries on upward without commenting about quixotic, perhaps obsessional, quests for ibex photos.
The shed of La Combe, 1911m asl, on the dead-end path leading to . . .
. . . the little lake down over the col at 1914m, well on its way towards freezing over for the year.
There is not an ibex in sight today. It's time to just admit that.
Chilly snowy wind, time to put the earflaps down.
No ibex photos, but lots of atmospheric landscapes
Wait, is that a mountain goat? Up there. No. It's a bird.
In a pinch, bird photos will have to do.
We're rattling back down the hill to the Lac de Tanay to get Kristin's recommendations on tonight's menu.
Whilst scurrying down the hill at dusk, I've been admiring Alison's very smart mountain coat, and thinking about trading in my 30-year-old sweatshirts and rainshell for something like it.
A convenient tunnel on the mountainside
We're back at the P'tite Auberge, for Kristin's dinner recommendations. Everything -- everything! -- is good here.
This is Alison's first visit to this warm and convivial place -- I've been looking forward to her joining us here for some years.
Our usual table's reserved, put together with another one for a large end-of-the-summer party of fairly uproarious folks who've put orders in for everything on the menu. Our boots, filled with newspapers, are going up against the fireplace for a while.
We're back in the host family's corner tonight, Alison and Kristin and a nice glass of beer for the Old Guy.
Alison, a massive-telescope-builder by trade, has graced us again from her home in Chile.
The guestbook room upstairs. Night night.
Next morning, Les Jumelles ("the twins") in sunlight but us not, we're off down the hill after a brisk walk around Lac de Tanay.
The chapel -- rather empty for a Sunday morning, when you think about it. Like many far larger religious establishments these days. They do still dress up a photograph, though.
Kristin leading round the lake
A few last photos with the super-Sony.
Lac de Tanay as the sun finally peeks in
Lac de Tanay
Kristin checking out the Nature Reserve signs and warnings
The Jumelles on the far side of the lake
A last look before we trundle back up over the Col de Tanay and down to the trailhead
Kristin leading back down to the car, with her favorite pillow tied onto the backpack
(Some photos by Alison Peck)