Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 4: Chapelle d'Abondance

Chapelle d'Abondance, June 24--

Let's see: where was I? Oh yes: up early yesterday to watch the cows brought in for milking. One man and three dogs invited them down from the flowery pastures to the milk-barn. All three dogs looked the same to me, black and white, border collies or whatever.

One was the one who always snapped at the water when you washed your handss or filled your bottle at the trough; very annoying. Another, apparently younger, was on a long rope held by the gardien; maybe he was in training.

The cows looked at me curiously, then turned back to their own path to the barn. They're red and white, short-horned, of the Abondance breed, established during the 19th century: there's a plaque telliing me all this here in town, with a nice statue in open ironwork of a cow.

Anyhow after breakfast we ascended the pasture without much trouble, stopping to rest now and then, and then came to Pas de la Bosse at 1816 meters. From there a fine view back over last night's chalet to the pass from which we'd descended yesterday -- I'm sorry I can't post photos from this folding computer! -- and a pleasant view forward: for there, in the distance, lay Chapelle d'Abondance and, I assumed, a hot bath.

But first the long descent, and just now those hurt far more than the climbs. At first it was easy enoough, on switchbacks on dirt cowpaths. Halfway down we made some kind of mistake and lost the path.

We had to bushwhack through vegetation reaching almost our knees, thick lush growth hiding stones and marmot-holes. This is hard on the ankles, but ultimately we rejoined the rutted switchback path, not that much better.

The vegetation! Dozens of varieties of wildflower: gentians, orchids, buttercups, trollius, wild rose, violets... and dozens more we don't identify. The fragrance is wonderful: it's like walking past a gigantic open honeyjar.

At the bottom of the steep descent we entered a forest of evergreens, leading to a place apparently being "developed" into summer chalet country; and then we walked down through a sort of educational nature reserve with panels describing tle local flora and fauna, finally coming to town.

We were hot, tired, footsore, and hungry, and stopped at th firs hotel: La Gentianette, I think. We showered and changed an went to the next hotel for lunch -- omelette fines herbes and a green salad for me -- and then relaxed. We have a swimming pool, a sauna, a Turkish bath, and a room with a nice balcony and A BATHTUB!

The town's a bit depressing to me; I see it as four or five fine old stone buildings surrounded by new stuff built in the last forty years, the transition from locally sustainable agricultural economy to globally dependent leisure industry. Judging by the number of cars in the lots, and the number of closed sporting-goods shops, the previous economy may return.

We're here for a rest day; tomorrow we resume the march. I've seen a number of GR5 walkers today, on our own stroll back from the supermarket a couple of miles down the road. There'll be company.


jchalik said...

The bathtub and omelette are inadequate compensation for the exhaustion following my reading of days 1 - 4. Cables? Chimneys? Shall I FedEx you a hat? Can't wait to see the photos. Stay safe and don't hesitate to take another rest day.

Charles Shere said...

thanks zeĆ¹re okay i got a hat