S: The Alps 2012
FC: The Alps 2 0 1 2 Steve and April
1: We left Atlanta September 9th and arrived in Geneva September 10th. From the plane, we can see the Atlanta skyline (above), Lake Geneva (below left), and Mont Blanc (below right).
2: Hotel Alpina, Les Gets, France | September 10th
5: The base of Mont Chery, the next day's climb, is on the right | View from Room
6: From left to right... * We checked out the grocery store - even the grocery stores look like chalets & have flower boxes * Walking lanes are marked by chalk outlines that look like a crime scene * Chalets aren't cheap, but they come with a cave! * Real working shutters, often red, are common. So are woodpiles * We're happy to be in France!
7: La Nativite de Marie, Les Gets (notice "Presbytere" sign)
8: The stain glass windows are Joan of Arc & St. Michel. At far left, a 3-foot tall wood carving of an unhappy looking monk we found tucked unceremoniously under the stairs. The tapestry is the backdrop for the pulpit.
10: View from room in Les Gets
11: KRABI, SOUTH END | November 9
12: Dinner in Les Gets | Hotel Alpina
13: Hiking from Les Gets to Mont Chery| September 11 | Today's hike begins with a steady climb from 1200m to 1826m to the summit of Mont Chery where there are stunning views of the region. After reaching the peak, we descended a steep 400m within 2km to the Col l'Encrenaz where we bought drinks for the picnic lunch. Then we cheated and called a taxi which took us to Montriond cutting out 10km of the day's hike - but hiking the final 2km into Lac de Montriond by a beautiful stream.
15: Climbing Mount Chery * We saw a herd of goats below us * As we were hiking, out of the corner of our eye, we noticed some figures carved into tree stumps: A lady elf and a creature of some sort *
17: Mount Chery Summit (1826m) * The top is the view towards Les Gets, the Southeast, where we have hiked from * The bottom is the view of Montriond towards the North where we are hiking to *
18: Hiking down from the Mont Chery summit is very very steep. We see people harvesting something on the hills. Later we hear it is mushrooms. | By the time we descended Mont Chery and reached the bar in Col l'Encrenaz (lower right of center pic), we realized we had started too late and were too slow to do the remaining 14km. So we called a taxi which took us to Montriond
19: Montriond to Lac de Montriond | A "Mairie" is the French word for town hall. Every hamlet had one. Here in Montriond is where we resumed our hike (another 2km into Lac de Montriond) after our cab ride.
20: This is a sampling of the architecture in Montriond which is more French than Swiss. In the lower right hand corner is a river called Dranse de Montriond that we followed in the woods for the last part of the day's walk.
21: Lac de Montriond, France | September 12
22: Hotel les Sapins, Montriond
24: While at Lac de Montriond, it rained in the low lands and snowed in the highlands. We awoke to beautiful clouds, fog, and snow-peaked mountains. Locals claim that there are two hamlets under the waters and that on a night of a full moon, you can hear a church bell ringing from under the surface.
26: The vivid turquoise color of the lake is due to microscopic moss particles in suspension in the water. The colors in Steve's hat are a mystery!
27: This ridge is where we will hike when we leave Lac de Montriond and head toward Mont de Grange.
28: Short Hike in the rain from Lac de Montriond to Ardent Waterfall | September 12
32: Les Lindarets to Col de Bassachaux to Mont de Grange on way to Chatel | September 13th
33: This was our longest day of walking from 9am to 7:30pm. It started out on level ground high above Lac de Montriond. The snow was beautiful.
35: Behind April to the left (northwest) are the Pointe de Nantaux and the Pointe d'Entre Deux Pertuis
36: More views from Les Lindarets including a great view of Lac de Montriond and our hotel. The city of Montriond is shown behind the lake. the mountains in the background are Roc d'Enfer.
38: Stopped for a drink at Le Haute Bise at Col de Bassachaux
39: A chicken greeted us at the restaurant. Then after we were served our drinks, it appeared in the window staring at us. Afterwards we entered the bog (lower left) which was wet with black mud. April promptly fell. Yuck! Picture to right is typical of the meadows we crossed that day.
41: Our half way point for the day is Mont de Grange which is seen in the distance. But first we have a bog to cross!
43: Having passed the Mont de Grange summit (un-hikeable due to snow) we are only 1/2 way to Chatel. It is a very long day! Mont de Grange is a protected wildlife area. We will see an Ibex (pictured in the sign) later in the day. Picture on right is the pasture where we had our picnic lunch (cheese, bread, with pearl onions and gherkins).
49: Day's destination still ahead. This is the village of Chatel where we can see our hotel .
51: The sound of cow bells are everywhere! The air is fresh and dry. This may be the most beautiful place on earth.
52: As we near the village of Chatel we run into some farmers who are starting the process of gathering their cows for the trip down from the highlands to the valley where they will winter.
54: Ibex | The final descent into Chatel was on a very steep path through the woods over pine tree roots and rocks. It was fairly dark. Frustrated and tired, Steve noticed that an Ibex came out to greet us. He stayed his distance, but stared at us for a time.
55: Chatel - Hotel Le Renard | September 14
56: Our favorite hotel was Le Renard, an English Pub with 5 hotel rooms. The food was great and the ambiance was remarkable.
57: Hummingbird Moth Hawk
58: We attempted a hike into Switzerland to the lake at Morgins , but we got lost in France. From the mountains we were on, we could see the path through the mountains we had climbed yesterday where the cows were being driven. The tree roots were the path we climbed up and typical of many lowland descents.
60: Hike from Chatel to Chappel d'Abondance (we took the lowland route) | September 15
61: Farmers (left upper) are driving their cattle through town coming out of the hills of Chatel. They will drive them all the way to a farm in Chapelle d'Abondance (we follow them part of the way listening to their bells). These cows make the mild Abondance Cheese. The prominent mountain in the pictures below is Les Cornettes de Bise which we will climb tomorrow.
62: Le Chapelle d'Abondance Views around the village plus (lower right) a musical band of teenage girls carrying their guitar and amp down a hill. We hope they get famous. They were cute as can be!
63: Les Dents du Midi (The Teeth of the Midday)
65: Short hike to the "quite nice" falls as describe by our English hotelier. Formal name: Cascades on Les Ruisseau des Mattes
66: Hike to Les Cornettes de Bise (highest peak in Chablais) via Lac d'Arvouin| September 16
68: Lac d'Arvouin
71: * Mont Chauffe (left) * Views into Switzerland (top right) * Highest farm in Chablais (right of this square) with Les Cornettes de Bise peak in background * Swiss sheep (lower right)
72: Franco-Swiss Border *Granite stone marks the border * Steve at border marking behind him is Switzerland * April is standing at highest farm in France (2065m) * Below is a panorama with France and cows on the left and Switzerland and sheep on the right *
75: Looking South just before the summit of Les Cornettes de Bise (Les Dents du Midi and Mount de Grange)
76: Views from the farm at Les Cornettes de Bise | Reindeer
77: Mont Blanc in the distance
79: April at the farm at Les Cornettes de Bise. See the Teeth of the Midday (Les Dents du Midi), Mont Blanc (snow capped mountain second mountain left of her head), and Mont de Grange (immediately left of her head without snow).
80: Hike from La Chapelle to Abondance starting with a cab ride up to Ubine | September 17
85: Ubine was a beautiful, yet sort of creepy (see the crow on top of the wooden cross?) settlement nestled behind the Chauffe Range. The church was built in 1611. A hundred years ago there were 40 or so chalets here supporting the cattle farmers in the summer. Today there is one chalet, one solar powered barn, and a bar.
86: The stain glass windows in the church are modern. A rock fell on the church in the 1800s. April rang the church bell (above) | The following pages show the hike from Ubine to Abondance
87: We found the sign above the church door, "God Sees," almost as creepy as the crow on the cross. There were no lights in the church and it was very dark. | Lake Geneva can be seen from the ridges | We built a prayer tower when we stopped for lunch
89: The Church at Le Mont
90: More sights on the way into Abondance. Notice the cheese, plums, apples, flowers, and bees. Apparently in Abondance, only men and their daughters can cross the street
91: Abondance | September 18
92: Abondance | A cafe, Steve eating Abondance cheese, the town square, and grocery store where we bought bread.
94: Abondance | Le Mairie (top left), Le Mont Jorat where we ate lunch with a bunch of French biker dudes (above right), our Hotel de l'Abbaye (right) our room on the 3rd floor corner with a window and a balcony, and a side street view (lower left).
98: Abbaye de l'Assomption in Abondance: The reason there is a rooster on top of every steeple cross is to remind us that if Peter denied Jesus so might we.
102: Connected to the Abbey are the ruins of an ancient monastery which houses a remarkable group of wall paintings depicting the life of Christ.
104: More scenes from the monastery which followed the Rule of Saint Augustine. It started out as helping the poor, but became a place of profit and lost its way.
105: Abondance to St Jean d'Alups | September 19
108: This is the view of Abondance from Pointe des Follys. We have hiked in the rain all morning and it was delightful! We were told by our Scottish hiking mates that the rainy weather is called "dreich."
111: We were greeted at the top of Pointe des Follys by a herd of hungry lunette (named for the "eye glass" brown spots around their eyes) cattle. Notice the ornate cow bell (upper left hand) with a cross on it. All the bells seem to be different and many ornate.
115: The Abbaye Sainte-Marie des Alpes 12C ruins
116: Scenes from the ruins of the Abbaye. They kept bees and had herb and vegetable gardens. They followed the Rule of Benedict. They too became corrupt from their initial days of poverty. The reasons the church is in ruins is that French villagers in the 1800s blew it up to use the stones for their new church and homes.
119: Lessons Learned * A journey in the Alps is either up or down – there is no flat ground * Fear sucks up a lot of energy needed for better things * Moving just a little distance in the Alps can completely change your perspective * If you pee on yourself, it will dry * Every ounce of baggage you carry adds up * Sometimes even cows travel faster than we do * Packing for every possibility can weigh you down * The rooster sits on top of the cross to remind us that Jesus died for us even though we let him down * Good fitting shoes, tied correctly, make a big difference * Even Toto can climb the highest Alp * Doing a few trial runs before the real thing is a good idea * Showers are much better than bath tubs, because no one wants to sit in a tepid pool of their own filth * Looking over a steep edge can be paralyzing, but keeping eyes on the path ahead and knowing the only thing that will most likely happen is falling on your butt takes away the fear * God still hears you if you cry in the woods or under a tree * It's hard to follow a bunch of cows through the mud * Sometimes rainy days are great for hiking * A smile beats speaking the same language every time * | Scenes from St-Jean-d'Aulps: Quiche at a cafe in town. Doggie who walked with us from the Abbey into town. And a cute little chalet for chickens.