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.
It's 6 December 2015, and the snow's all gone already.
Les Avants, Switzerland, above Montreux -- The venerable Le Châtelard school for girls was in service in 1980 and '81 as the home-away-from-home of the American College of Switzerland, previously and subsequently of Leysin and now defunct.
We were just here in early October, up from Montreux on the MOB train, to take the nice trek down the Gorge du Chauderon to the lake, starting here in Les Avants.
Today we've got the car, but we're starting our walk along the Chemin des Narcisses (the Narcissus Trail) from the hotel Sonloup at the top of the funicular railway. (There are no narcissuses out now, but in springtime discerning flower fans come from all over Western Europe to tramp across these hillsides.)
An attractive new car and modern automatic system, or is it? -- it was first built in 1910, and the website says that, though it's recently been renovated, these are still the original cars and machinery. Hmmm.
Whether old or new, they're very clean. Bells -- jolt -- we're underway.
The Dent de Jaman out the window
At the top station -- the car goes up (as the other car goes down) every 20 minutes, no humans involved. The cost is negligible.
Starting from the hotel at Sonloup
The trail out to the Belvedere of Cubly
The panoramic view of the Dent de Jaman on the left and the massif of the Rochers de Naye on the right. Our old playground, back in the day.
Up to the Belvedere or scenic lookout
That's Phase One of our walk
A little something out of the rain. Like a bus stop without the bus.
The view over Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and the villages between Montreux and Vevey just below, the French Alps on the left
Montreux just below
It's time for Phase Two of our walk.
Half an hour (or so) back to Sonloup, and 45 minutes (or so) back to Les Avants on the Chemin des Narcisses.
Next, hang on: it's straight down.
A lot of thoughtful effort has gone into this. And a lot of well-heeled tourists have passed this way, presumably safely (maybe Hemingway, too; and Noel Coward), and recommended it to all their friends and relatives.
Our path goes zig-zaggy down from 1171m above cliffs overlooking the village of Le Cubly, to a farm called Azot at 1062m, where we turn back in the direction of Les Avants.
That's Azot, but evidently not a farm. Anyway, that's our landmark.
Looking due eastward toward the ridge of Les Verraux and, on the right, the Dent de Jaman
Map-wise, that farm is just where it's supposed to be.
The poya is a Fribourg dialect word for the late-spring ascent of the cows to the highland pastures, and for the past 200 years there has been regional tradition of placing paintings of that procession over the doors of barns, usually primitive art with a deliberate lack of perspective. The valleys of the canton of Fribourg are full of them (and so is the Musée Gruérien in Bulle), but we're in the canton of Vaud.
Our trail goes back up the hill, pastures called Fiaudire, and thence contouring off into the forest.
How civilized. And especially helpful at night or in a snowstorm.
We're still at about 1040m but starting to lose some height now. Les Avants is at 968m.
Out onto a pasture
Les Avants ahead
Marlowe's mom and I lived in that house, on the Route des Narcisses, way way up under the eaves, in 1980-81.