Alps

I spent last week in the Swiss Alps, in the valley at Zinal.  Wow.

The highlighIMG_1740t was a walk up to the Roc de la Vache. The weather was stunning, and it was quite hot work ascending the slope.  We passed several cows, through luscious woodland to the bare-topped, still-snowy mountain.  The Roc is the lump on the left; behind is the moutain ring the other side of the valley, above a retreated glacier.

There were various other aliens on the top – people from Belgium (Zinal seems to be a resort for Brits and Belges), and a group from Australia, with a guide and his gorgeously enthusiastic dog.

We had lunch by a lake (we weren’t hard enIMG_1742ough to swim in it; paddling was rather cold), amidst pretty little gentians and saxifrages and grasses.

The descent was aided by well-placed tree root steps!  There were two amazing waterfalls, one we saw on our way up, the other the way down.  In fact, all you can hear in the valley is waterfalls and cow bells (and the occasional helicopter).  At the bottom, we came across thick snow from an avalanche, with lots of earth on top of it – presumably a post-avalanche landslide.  This made for very cold mud.

I went barefoot most of the way.  This is to be recommended – not only did it give my calf muscles a rest, but the different grounds are so interesting to tread on.  The only really painful ones are the man-made paths.

Back at the botIMG_1746tom of the valley, there’s a dairy farm with about 50 very happy cows, a mobile milking parlour and a well-stocked cave du fromage.  Milking is between 7 and 8 in the morning and 4 and 5 in the evening, and a collie helps round the cows up.  (He is a little keen – keeps nipping their heels.)

 

Thanks to Ian and Anita for such bliss.

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