Taking advantage of cheap flights to Geneva I decided to head off on my travels again for a short trip. I had booked to come back on Thursday so all going well I would have four full days on the mountains. My first dilemma was where to go. I was in contact with Andy Griffiths and he was tentatively up for a few days hiking but would have to work on the fourth day. I was thinking of doing a section of the Tour de Mont Blanc but I have been to that area quite often by now and I was keen to visit somewhere new so I decided to give the Chamonix area a miss. I looked at the possibility of exploring the mountains around Aigle but one of my biggest headaches was trying to get gas when I arrived so I could travel and wildcamp and be self sufficient for the duration. Camping is always my preferred option and I didn't have much choice anyway as everything would be closed at this time of year. I had sussed out where to get gas in Geneva before I headed to Aigle but at the last minute I checked out the southern side of the lake and the Chablais Alps area and another plan fell into place. I could get to a town called Thonon les Bains fairly quickly and there was a Decathlon store about a kilometer from the hotel I booked into which was open until eight pm so I should be able to get the gas there as I was arriving in Geneva at 15.20 and all going well I could be in Thonon by 17.30.
A leisurely start and the benefit of wifi and free train travel meant I at least could pass the day on the trains and after a good breakfast and checking in for another night I went back to the centre of Thonon and caught several trains that saw me strolling around the city of Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva. I had hoped to stumble across an outdoor store there but the same applied to this town and all seemed to be closed up for the day. I went down to the lake shore and enjoyed the busy buzz of the place and soaked in the warm sunshine. I couldn't help but look longingly across the water to the mountains beyond and feel that it was a day wasted, especially in such glorious weather. The views were wonderful and I was looking forward all the more to starting my trip properly tomorrow.
|Down by the lake in Lausanne|
Since the shop wouldn't be open until 9am I had a leisurely start before going and getting my precious canister of gas. I then got a taxi to the village of Vinzier which was about 6 miles away (which was quite expensive) and finally at 9.40 I was setting off on my route. Even at this stage I didn't have a definite plan for the three days now left available to me but for today I was going to go as far as the CAF refuge on Dent d'Oche 2222mtrs. I had spotted this peak online and it looked like a worthy place to spend my first night. I had my Alpkit Delta tent with me and food for the duration of the journey so the bag way fairly heavy but I was delighted to finally be leaving urban sprawl behind and setting off into the beautiful landscape. The weather was once again wonderful and it was quite warm sunny. It was hard to believe that it was November and the mainly leafless trees were the only indication that winter was almost upon us. After passing the sleepy hamlet of Le Cret I finally left tarred roads and started up a forest track that gained me a lovely upland alpine pasture that led to the first top of the day Mont Baron 1566 mtrs. Even here the views were great and almost the whole expanse of Lake Geneva was laid out below. That of course wasn't the only attraction. Everywhere all about the mountains swept away. In the south the giants of Chamonix could be seen and the wall continued east to the Valais. Nearer to hand the pleasant peak of Dent d'Oche and its near neighbour Chateau d'Oche were spectacular and only became more so as I got nearer.
|Visnier from Le Cret|
|My target for today,, Dent d'Oche on the left and Chateau d'Oche on the right|
|Les Cornettes des Bise|
|The Dents du Midi... a constant pleasure to the eye.|
|The Grand Combin looking stunning|
|From the summit of Chateau towards Dent d'Oche|
|Sunset in the misty cloud as I neared the refuge|
|Thonon and Evian nearest with Geneva on the left|
Tuesday November 10th;
I rose just after first light and watched the beautiful red sky fade over Mont Blanc. Yet again the weather promised to be great. I was certainly feeling the effects of the 2000 mtrs plus of climbing from yesterday but I only had 100 mtrs to go to reach the summit of Dent d'Oche. I was entertained by a couple of Ibex near the top and once I reached the I delighted in the stunning views. It is seldom that I have found myself on any top anywhere when there has not been a puff of breeze but today was such a day. As you can imagine the vistas were wide ranging but I guess the view down to Lake Geneva and then across to the Mont Blanc massif were the stars of the show. It was nice to sit and relax so soon after starting off but I had a fair ways to go and traversed over the mountain and down to Col de Pianchamp and drop back down to near the lake and then rejoin the Gr5. My destination for today was Lac de Taney in Switzerland, from where I had several options to finish my trip on Wednesday and I would also have the opportunity to climb the Cornettes de Bise if I so chose. Down into the shade I went and the chill was noticeable but later I was again in the sun as I headed down towards the picturesque Chalets de Neuteu. The trail drops down to around 1300 mtrs before then crossing into Switzerland and climbing steeply up to Col de la Croix 1757mtrs from where I had further options.
|Dawn light and Mont Blanc|
|On the summit looking down at the refuge and beyond|
|The Grand Combin-Dents du Midi and the Mont Blanc massif|
My legs were shot today. Climbing with the big bag was tough and it was clear that I still hadn't recovered from yesterday. From the col I could take the difficult trail on the northern side of Lac de Lovenax or the normal route that followed Route 6 of the Swiss national trails. I opted for Route 6 and followed the trail easily (almost entirely downhill) to the beautifully situated Lac de Taney 1408mtrs. There was a public camping area here but the facilities were closed but I pitched my tent anyway and settled in for the evening. The area was a real frost pocket and I guess this time of year it didn't receive any sun at all during the day. Several spots on the way down to the lake were still coated in frost and this came as something of a surprise as up at the refuge it had been really quite mild but I guess at this height when there isn't any sun the temperatures would seldom be above freezing during the night. It was just 14.30 when I arrived at the lake and it didn't feel too warm then either. I set about doing the usual camping stuff-like feeding myself etc and settled in to the tent soon after it got dark. I had dinner early and just after my headlight decided to pack in but thankfully I had brought a battery charging pack and this saved the day. I settled in for the night early and slept very well.
|First view of Lac de taney|
|Camping heaven :)|
Wednesday November 11th;
|Chillier in the morning.|
I knew it had been colder last night than the night before so it wasn't really any great surprise to emerge to a frosted campsite this morning. I had left one water bottle outside and one inside the tent and the one outside was frozen solid. The one in the tent was fine but it was a surprise to find that it froze in the time I was cooking breakfast, so it must have been a bit chillier than I had thought. Anyway I had decided to go as far as the town of Bouverey today which was down by the shores of Lake Geneva and had public transport links that would see me able to reach Geneva the following morning for my flight. A lovely walk along the northern side of Lac de Taney through the woods quickly gave way to a wonderful hillocky pastureland and I was once again basking in the morning sun. Down then easily until you reach a forest road and here the trail divides. I wanted to gain a viewpoint one more time and I turned left and headed for Croix de la Le at 1873 mtrs which promised to give great views down to Lake Geneva and beyond. I followed the trail until point 1669 mtrs and here I diverged and headed straight up to the col directly above at 1913 mtrs. Here I dropped my bad and walked easily to the nearby summit at 1993 mtrs. Wow what a wonderful place to be. The views were so much better than I had anticipated. Everything from the Mont Blanc massif to the Valais and the Bernese Oberland could be seen on the horizon and of course the ranges that bounded the huge lake below were wonderful to behold as well. Warm sun and no wind meant that a layer of pollution could be seen hovering above the Rhone valley far below. I relaxed a while and it was some reluctance that I turned and set off for the long descent all the way to the valley floor over 1600 mtrs lower. Once I got back as far as the forest road I was from there to the bottom walking in the shade and in the woods which had a charm all of its own.
|The Rhone valley with a layer of pollution clearly seen|
|The end of Lake Geneva with Bouverey on the bottom and Villeneuve on top|
|The Tashhorn and the Dom|
|Where the Rhone enters the lake|
|Journeys end looking at Montreux|