Les Fournaises Loop in Winter (Walk no. 3)

Many, many blog posts ago, I mentioned that I’d created a list of about 30 walks in the area. Indeed some of my early posts had a walk number in the title (like this one). For each of these walks, I produced a laminated A4 sheet with a map on one side and a detailed Route Description on the other. This was primarily for the use of our guests when we rented out the chalet and had B&B guests. (We stopped doing that in March last year, not because of Covid, but so that we could travel more… Well, that was the theory…)

Anyway, I’ve been wondering what to do with all this ‘knowledge’ and I have thought about producing a book, but, for now, I’m investing some time in adding details of each walk onto my website. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the addition of “Walks in the Val d’Hérens” to my Home menu page. Now, before you go rushing off… It is still work in progress, but I have created the structure and completed the first 11 of the 33 walks which I eventually plan to put on the site.

I should also mention that I’ve renumbered many of the Medium and Challenging walks, partly to include some ‘new’ ones into the middle category, but also to make it more logical on the numbered maps. I could go back and re-number the blog posts, but I’ve included a gallery of photos in each of the new pages. So all you, (or anyone), will need to do, if you fancy a virtual walk, is to dip into the Walks page , select Easy, Medium or Challenging and then pick a number… 😊

Since today I did Walk no. 3, I figured it was a good time to introduce you to the change, which I hope to finish by the end of the month. In the meantime, please enjoy the images below, where I was the first human to walk the route, but in the footsteps of several deer.

Bisses de Mont d’Orge and Lentine Walk, Valais, Switzerland

In an attempt to get away from snow-covered paths (if not sub-zero temperatures), yesterday Jude dropped me off down in Sion to do another pair of the very many bisse* walks which snake around the sides of the Rhone valley. This walk is route 212 on the Swissmobile app, though I did it in reverse, starting at the Pont de la Morge and heading up towards the village of Drône. Since I planned to catch the bus back home, I extended the walk to descend into Sion, which also took me along a very short section of the (previously posted) Bisse de Clavau.

As you will see from the gallery below, the route gives excellent views both up and down the Rhone valley as it meanders through the vineyards. I was pleasantly surprised how many birds there were flitting around. Although they are not great photos, (my camera doesn’t do zoom very well), I did manage to capture a couple of Rock Buntings and a pair of European Nuthatches (though I’ve only included a picture of one of them). Both pictures, 14 and 16, are heavily cropped, so a little blurred.

In addition, you know when you get that feeling that you are being watched? Well, I just happened to turn my head to the side during my descent from Drône and there in the field was a Roe deer. I edged forward to get a clearer view and clicked the camera straight away and I was glad I did, as it turned and ran off almost immediately. (The picture, 28, below is also cropped, otherwise you might not have seen it!)

Last but not least, I should highlight the rather rickety looking monorail, in pics 32 and 33. These are used to collect the grapes in the autumn. As you will see, some of the terracing is very steep and this saves them lugging huge quantities of grapes back to the lanes which run through the vineyards. It looks quite a precarious piece of kit and I’m not sure I’d want to be perched on that seat as it goes up and down!

*Regular readers will of course remember that ‘bisses’ are irrigation channels, built to bring water to the fields – in this case the many vineyards which blanket the south facing slopes.

Ferpècle Valley Walk, Take 2…

Following on from my slight ‘mishap’ yesterday, I returned to the same car park, at almost the same time and set off to do the same walk but, this time, with a memory card in my camera! The only real difference was that my car told me it was -13 degrees C (8.6 F) instead of -11 C (12 F). Though, rather strangely, it felt warmer.

Anyway here are the photos that you (and I) missed yesterday. And, since I mentioned taking a video, I’ve also included three videos. The second and third have 2 or 3 clips stitched together to save you opening several links. If you want to see how far I got this time, I suggest you view video 2 before 3… 😉
(There is a bit of wind noise on the last clip, but it wasn’t very windy at all).

Never let it be said that you don’t get value for money on this site!! 😊

More visitors in the night…

Firstly let me say a very Happy New Year to everyone and a big THANK YOU to all my followers and especially to those of you who have provided comments throughout 2020. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that 2021 is a much more joyful year.

At the risk of becoming boring and a bit one dimensional, (I promise to go out walking when the weather improves and the sun begins to shine), I have a few more Trail cam videos for you to enjoy…

After 2 blank nights where nothing was captured at all, last night, around 11:45pm, we had two small (Roe?) deer. Again the videos are extremely short for some reason, being only 1 to 2 seconds long instead of the 10 seconds I was expecting. I’ll check the settings and let’s hope things are OK next time.

On the 2nd video you can see one of the deer taking an interest in the bin full of bird food, but it didn’t dislodge the lid. There was a 3rd clip (not shown) showing the back end of one running away, so something must have spooked them.

About 3 hours later, at least one of the two stags seen in my previous posts made another appearance. And again, I’ve stitched together 5 very short clips to make the one below. He clearly enjoyed some of the bread and carrots that we’d left out. You will be pleased to know that the, now pieced together, bird feeder is safely out of harms way, attached to the railing of our 1st floor terrace (off camera, towards the top right of the video). 😊

Another Stag Night in Evolène, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

After a quiet night on Monday, when only a fox appeared on my Trail cam, last night it captured another case of wanton destruction of the bird feeder. Jude had deliberately removed all the bird food containers to see whether the stag(s) would still demolish the holder.

It snowed during the day yesterday, leaving about 3 inches of fresh snow covering the garden. The pictures below show the view this morning from our upstairs balcony. As you will see, there were lots of hoof prints, the main pole had been uprooted and bent, while the top part of the feeder was about 10 yards away, down in the field below.

This time I’d pointed the Trail camera towards the feeder to catch the culprit(s*) in action. Unfortunately, in the event, the first 10 second video was OK, but the remainder of the videos were only 1 to 2 seconds long. (I’m not sure if this is a fault in the camera, e.g. if there is constant movement when the ‘hybrid’ photo/video option is selected). Anyway to save me posting and you clicking through numerous 1 to 2 second videos, I’ve merged some of them together to show a) the stag’s arrival and b) the start of the demolition.

*One of the later videos captured, (not included here), shows the pole moving up and down without the stag in view touching it, so we suspect there is another one off camera pulling and/or pushing at the top of the feeder. Certainly we did catch 2 pairs of eyes on camera coming into the field the other night and someone in the village posted a picture of 2 stags during the daytime on facebook a few days ago. So we know there are 2 lurking in the vicinity.

Clearly they are simply looking for food and not vandals after all. But, to save dismantling the bird feeder every night, we are now going to move it up to the corner of our balcony, well out of the reach of those long antlers!

I’m afraid the following 2 videos are a bit jerky, but I hope you will get the idea.

Destruction in Evolène…

The day started brightly enough, though it was probably a sign of the imminent strong winds which have been forecast across central Europe.

Jude went outside and soon ran back in asking me to stop everything and come and look. Our bird feeder had been destroyed… again! (This happened last year too). Pieces were everywhere – the furthest being about 25 yards down the fields (to the left of the right hand bush in the first image).

It was at this point that I’d wished I’d left the Trail cam pointing in the same direction as yesterday to capture what happened. However, the culpritS have been identified…

Firstly the one I’m calling 3 pointer, because he has 3 prongs on the top of his antlers.

Immediately after the above, there was another video with sounds of bashing and crashing. Here’s his partner in crime – 2 pointer.

In the midst of this mayhem, a fox trotted across a few times, but this was the best video.

One of them obviously had something stuck on its antlers as it came back into view trying to get rid of whatever it was. There’s no tree or bush to the right where it’s standing.

Last, but not least 3 pointer returns to check on his handiwork…

First Time Lucky…

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day. One of the presents my lovely wife gave me was a Trail camera. It has “Dual image sensors optimized for highest quality images day and night.” So, like all boys with new toys, I was onto it straight away, inserting the batteries and setting it up. I had a choice between video and still images and one called hybrid. I wasn’t sure what the hybrid option did, as the instruction booklet didn’t seem to cover that. I was so keen to get it fixed to our tree that I didn’t have time to read ALL the instructions! (I’ve subsequently learnt, via the online instructions, that it can do both video and still photos at the same time! 😊)

So yesterday afternoon, I strapped it to the tree at the corner of our garden, between 3 and 4 feet up and crossed my fingers. (No time to do a test of course!)

There was a little more snow later yesterday evening and when I awoke this morning I noticed some tracks across the garden. Yippee, I thought, I can’t wait to see what happened. Well, upon inserting the SD card into my laptop I noticed not one, but 30 files! Six of these were taken this morning (which turned out to be me shovelling the snow away and approaching the camera to remove it). All 24 of the others were taken within about 10 minutes of each other. So I was hopeful that whatever it was, it had mooched about for a bit.

In the event, the very first file showed the video below, while all the others were just falling snow. (Maybe the creature was slightly off camera). I plan to adjust the settings and try again this evening (as there’s no snow forecast). I’ll also point it out towards our field as there seems to have been a lot more activity there. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

For the techies amongst you, the device is a Bushnell, Core DS, model no. 119977M.

Note: You’ll have to be quick at spotting what it was… (though it’s playing on a loop, so if you leave it, the animal will re-appear…) There is also a still image further below in case you missed it.

Riverside walk to Les Haudères, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

I’m an eternal optimist. So, when the forecast suggested that there might be a little sunshine today, I decided to take my camera for a walk along the River Borgne. However, as you will see from the photos below, the sky remained stubbornly grey (at least until I got back home = Sod’s Law!)

In an attempt to add some colour and maybe a bit of festive cheer into my photos, I wandered up to Les Haudères to find some Christmas decorations. I particularly liked the skiing snowman (who presumably lights up at night) together with the heart bearing teddy bear. (See pic 12).

Croix de la Chia Walk, Rhone valley, Switzerland

After being thwarted by the snow on my last walk, I discovered a route, again on the south facing side of the Rhone valley, which only went to 2,350m or 7,700ft. (This was about where the snow started last time). The objective was the Croix de la Chia, which sits at a col between two small peaks called Mont Gond and La Flava.

The map only showed a path to the col (with a route going down the other side), but I had secret hopes of trying to head towards, maybe even up to the top of, either Mont Gond or La Flava. Two dimensional maps can be deceiving of course and, if you look at pictures 26 and 27, you will see why I didn’t attempt either. There were two guys at the col when I arrived and they headed up towards La Flava, but I’m not sure if they even managed to climb over that first set of rocks.

I’ve also include a photo of the previously posted Bisse de Savièse, as seen from across the valley. (See pic 37). It highlights how much some of those bisses ‘cling’ to the rockface.

It’s not often I get the opportunity to take a photo of where I’m going to walk, but photo 1 shows where I was heading yesterday from ‘our’ side of the valley. The last photo was taken on the way back.

Finally, I was a very happy chappy throughout the walk, as the first thing that I saw as soon as I set off was the Clouded Yellow butterfly in pic 2, which was kind enough to land and have its photo taken. (Note that it could be a Pale or Berger’s Clouded Yellow, I didn’t get a good look at the upper side of the wings). Whatever, it was a joy to see so late in the year. 😊

Pointe du Tsaté Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

As you can imagine, after 10 days of isolation, (going no further than the letter box and the rubbish bin), I was itching to get out for a long walk and, I have to say, it felt great to be ‘free’ again. The forecast was for brilliant blue skies and warm sunshine, so yesterday I chose to head for the Pointe du Tsaté at 3,077m or 10,095 ft.

Jude thought I was mad, because there was still quite a lot of snow on the mountain tops. But it didn’t look that deep and the route I would be taking was on a south facing slope.

After passing the Remointse du Tsaté lake at 2,500m, or 8,200ft, there was a mixture of snow (no more than 2 inches deep) and bare ground on the path for another 3 hundred metres (1,000 feet) or so of climbing. But as I reached the ridge to the summit I was faced with a 2 to 3 foot wall of snow, where the wind from the north had built it up. (Picture 29 doesn’t really do it justice). I admit that I had second thoughts at this point, but I was so close to the summit, I decided to go for it. And I was glad that I did, as I was rewarded with magnificent panoramic views in all directions.

The beautifully stacked stones at the summit also helped me to set up my camera for the selfie in picture 35. 😊

My apologies for so many photos, but I hope you will agree that it was quite an adventure which ought to be shared! (Picture 1 btw was taken from the bus on the way to La Forclaz. (It just shows how clean the Swiss bus windows are!) However, I just missed one on the way back, so I decided to walk the 4 km/2.5 miles back home to Evolène. Luckily it was all downhill!)