Walks and hikes in Europe and California, posted sporadically as they happen… or as I reflect on them…

Monday, August 18, 2008

4 Chalets de Bise to la Chapelle d’Abondance

Day 4 & 5, June 23, 24—

Up at 5:30 to watch the dawn and the cows coming in to be milked, P1020121.jpg

one milker helped by three dogs, one of whom was apparently being trained by the other two. P1020122.jpg

First sun on mountaintops to the west. A fine morning, not a trace of the predicted rainstorm.

A fairly easy climb for an hour or so from Bise to the Pas de la Bosse, gaining 300 meters, P1020128.jpg

the valley beautiful behind us; ahead,


the stone walls of the mountain changing as we neared. Then a fine Col, and an easy descent to the Chalet-laiterie, closed unfortunately (as all seem to be). But then, after passing a ruined transhumance refuge,


we lost our way somehow and had to "bushwhack" through rough brushy vegetation hiding marmot-holes. Ultimately we regain the track, but it's a steep, stony, challenging one through forest.

Then, at the bottom, another kind of disappointment: civilization. Big tracts are being "developed," apparently for more timeshare leisure residences. We hurry past and find a "discovery route," a nice footpath leading past explanatory panels describing the flora, fauna, and history of the area.

This leads to the town of la Chapelle d’Abondance, where, tired, we simply fell into the first hotel we saw — too grand a hotel for me, with an indoor swimming pool and a theme-park decor, but pleasant enough for our first recuperation.

photo: Mac Marshall (other photos: cs)

And we could select our meals from menus! Lunch was trout, tomato, fennel, and potatos; dinner was pintadeau — guinea fowl, a favorite of mine — with the Canadians, who'd booked a nearby gite.

We decided to stay here an extra day. Chef drove us to a supermarket a couple of miles away, where we replaced our lost straw hats and water-bottles; then, to stay in shape, we walked back. That night we enjoyed a “traditional” dinner: mountain salad with lettuces, lardons, and hardcooked eggs; and sliced dry ham; and boiled potatoes to dip into your fondue; and best of all pickled sour cherries with tiny mushrooms, served in a downstairs dining room done up in traditional chalet style.

Distance walked, day 4: ca. 10 kilometers. • Time: ca. 4 hours • elevation change: ca. 1100 meters
Day 5: rest day