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).
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.
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.
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.)
look back at the Lac de Taney, unfortunately in disadvantageous light, 25 November
Jumelles ("the Twins") overlooking Tanay.
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.
up through Tanay village, headed for the col in the center of the photo.
view back down upon Tanay from halfway up the path, with the Leysin Tours in the
to Mr Bush's Global Warming, we can spend our normal November Alpine Freeze in
shirtsleeves, 26 November 2006.
region called Montagne de l'Au (also called Montagne de Loz, pronounced the same),
with our first destination up behind that farm building.
on in a stiffening wind, with the Chalet de Montagne de l'Au in the middle of
Montagne de l'Au, with the Dent du Velan on the right horizon, on the French border.
Leysin Tours (Tour de Mayen, Tour d'Aï) glorious on the horizon.
near the Pas de Lovenex (1853m), with the slightly indecent Grande Miette peeking
over in the centre.
small pond at 1835m just near the Pas de Lovenex. Time for lunch??
It's always time for lunch. (Kristin's in this photo, too; can you tell where?)
and lunch. Schwarzwälder ham and Vacherin de Fribourg.
the label of a packet of artisanal Schwarzwälder smoked ham is worth a good read through.
Fantastic stuff (likely illegal in the US under FDA rules to prevent corner-cutting by big industrial meatpackers).
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.
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.
on Lac Léman, November 2006.
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?
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.
studying animal tracks in the snow. Bouquetin! Capra
ibex, the famous mountain goat.
We're off in pursuit.
first bouquetin. In fact, we're in the middle of a nature reserve, so he's not
particularly alarmed by our presence.
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.
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.)
Op finished and cash in hand, Dad marshals his guys and leads them off up the
mountain . . .
. . and they follow at a trot.
few more stand sentinel above us.
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.
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).
the moms, getting ready for evening-fall.
herd, or pack, or pride, or gang, head over into the cliffs to our right.
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.)
is a cute-wildlife freak and can't be got away from watching them. And the weather
is closing in over the mountain.
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.
with the Cornettes de Bise on the horizon.
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.
freak, pleased with all the bouquetins.
a little farm at 1911m.
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.
view from the pond at La Combe up Mont Gardy (2198m). The Pas de Lovenex is on
the far side of that big boy.
spotting additional bouquetins.
Peck in a rare contemplative mood, with the Cornettes de Bise in the background.
alpha male in his classic rutting snooty pose.
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
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.
nearby mountain Alamon upside-down in the lake.
last look at Tanay village as we pass over the Col de Tanay.
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
again for the magret de canard and some more hiking