Sunday, 11 December 2011
Mont Blanc, I believe, wearing a curved cap of cloud. View from the Jura.
My first order of business was to change hotels. Expecting that I might not be able to get a room early in the morning, I loaded my small pack with day trip things for a hike, and stuffed everything else in the large pack. And so it happened.
Took the 14 streetcar to the end of the line, which turned out not to be CERN. I guess there may be two routes for the 14 line, or something. Anyway… after half an hour of walking, I got to CERN, where there were #14 streetcars ready to take me back into Geneva, not where I want to go right now.
CERN is right at the border with France. Through malice and forethought, I had brought along my passport, just in case, but the border crossing was unattended. Pretty much open country here, with nice views of the haute-Jura, where I hope to go hiking today. I have no real information about trails up there, but if I can’t get into the mountains… well, die Reise ist das Ziel. Nice day for a walk, and all that.
If you’re the type who believes the glass is half empty, you could point out that, no matter whether you read this in a mirror or directly, it’s half bass-ackward.
First town is Saint-Genis-Pouilly, followed by Sergy and Haut-Sergy. By this point, we are getting into the hills, and the roads sometimes dead-end. I just keep making my way uphill, toward the mountains. I have it in mind to go up to the snow line, if I can find a trail.
I did find a route that appears to go along the base of the mountain, Vie de L’Etraz, from Thoiry to Crozet and very likely beyond. Branching off from it, I found a trail going steeply uphill. That’s how I like it: hard work, get the heart going.
On a day of views both grand and grander, it’s good to notice the small things as well.
The trail just went up and up and up. Eventually crossed a paved road, believe it or not, which was more or less level. If it is the one I see on the map, it also runs along the contours for a long way before dropping back into the valley. Probably not the right choice to go downhill, when the time comes.
The trail got even steeper, if that were possible, and I started running out of steam. Even more, the trail was invisible in the open forest, and it was a matter of looking for blazes. There were very few blazes below, fairly frequent up here. No sign of snow; there is so much forest that I can hardly see the trees, much less the mountain. I eventually decided to declare victory and abandon the field.
No option to take a gentler downgrade; very tricky on a trail of fallen leaves and rocks the size of baseballs. And my impression turned out to be correct: the trail below the road was, with a few exceptions, not nearly as steep as the trail above the road. My guess, based on subsequent examination of Google maps, is that I climbed around 500 meters. Nice workout.
Mont Blanc is now hidden in the clouds, but the surrounding Alps make a nice backdrop to Geneva (the jet d’eau is the spike just left of center).
Just before I popped out into the lowlands trails, I met a woman going up, first person I had met on the entire hike. Friendly exchange of bonjours, and I went on. At the junction was a pair of markers; I wanted to go to Sergy and the arrow seemed to be in the wrong direction. While I stood there puzzling, the woman came back down, having apparently reached the limit of her intended excursion.
She offered me advice about Sergy, but it was clear that my French wasn’t keeping up with the advice. I understood enough French to answer her question about me speaking Anglais. I suggested Deutsch, which she said she didn’t speak very well. Hers was considerably better than mine, however, and we were able to converse as we hiked together Richtung Sergy.
She lives in Geneva, but has a country retreat here in the Jura. We walked along the Sergy-Crozet trail until she reached the turnoff to her country home. She said she had two friends showing up for picnicking and invited me to join them. Very nice of her, but I begged off and continued the walk back to Switzerland.
That’s where we were, somewhere up there. Yet another great day!