One of the things that both Judith and I miss about living in the mountains is Lac Léman or Lake Geneva. Our old apartment used to look out over the eastern end of the lake and so for old time’s sake, yesterday, we took the Postbus down to Sion and then the train to Vevey.
After a short walk along the lakeside and a fabulous lunch at Le Rubis restaurant, now run by our good friends Cathy and Lauren, we hopped on one of the fantastic paddle steamer boats which operate all along the lake. There are 10 boats in total and all look slightly different. (See pic 3). As the circular tour of the upper end of the lake unfolds, you can see how the Alps begin to form, as the rolling hills turn into mountains. (See pic 27). Most of the individual peaks you see below, both Judith and I have climbed over the years. It was probably where I cut my teeth and developed an endearing love of the Alps.
If you ever get the opportunity to visit this part of the world, or indeed any of the lakes in Switzerland, I can highly recommend one of these boat trips as a fabulous way to see the country.
One of the difficulties at this time of year is finding a route which is free of snow. For the past week or two the temperatures have been significantly warmer, so I expected the paths up to Villa and down from La Sage to be OK. And for the most part, they were. There was just one section, which needed some care to cross, where the snow had obviously avalanched during the winter. (See pic 25). A bigger issue was the huge amount of fallen branches littering the path. I must have spent 30 minutes or more moving some of the biggest ones to the side.
The two villages lie on the south facing slopes between 1750m and 1650m (5,740ft and 5,400ft) so, looking at the snowline (see pic 10), it will be some time before I go above 2000m (6,560ft).
Spring I think (and hope) has finally arrived in the Val d’Hérens. The temperatures have gone up significantly in the past few days and the snow is melting fast. Walking season is therefore upon us – though only at lower levels, like under 2,000 metres or 6,500 ft and then, only on the south facing slopes.
For my first walk, I thought I’d play it safe and head down the valley, where I know the snow has all gone. After taking the Postbus to the small village of La Luette, I set off down the east side of the valley, before dropping down and crossing the Pont de Riva and then continuing on the west side of the River Borgne to Bramois, near Sion in the Rhone valley. Over the winter, several stones and trees have fallen, including one massive boulder on what was already a detour of the path to avoid such things. (See pic 5 below). It was nice to see at least 5 different butterflies on the wing, though I only have a very poor picture of one, and to capture some of the numerous Spring flowers – including two I’d never noticed before, which I think are both Corydalis (see pics 16 & 17).
I’ve added some maps at the end so that you can zoom in, or out, on where this walk is in the world. Enjoy! 🙂