Sunday, May 18, 2014

You belong among the wildflowers.

We certainly had a whirlwind of a Saturday, following the awesome news that we were picked to be sling diarists for the upcoming Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume V: All the Love. Needless to say that after the news on Friday night I wasn't able to sleep much, what with too much anticipation and excitement for the next 6 months floating around in my head. 

{The view from Tiocan, looking out towards Geneva, Switzerland, Lac Leman and the Alps}

We had originally planned to do one of two things on Saturday: either day trip to Gstaad, Switzerland, or go for a hike in the Jura mountains, which are the mountains that we live on in the eastern part of France.

We decided that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to hit the Jura, since this was the first really nice weekend we've had over the past few weeks. We were a bit nervous though as we planned to hike to the top of the mountain, and being Oswin's first big hike, well, that's enough to make anyone nervous. 

One of biggest fears about taking a 7 1/2 month old babe on such a big hike was that she'd do really well on the ascent, we'd get to the top, sit down to enjoy a picnic lunch, and then she'd completely lose it, making the descent of an hour plus total hell. 

We began our hike from Tiocan, a trailhead that is about a 45 minute hike or 10 minute drive from our house. Since this was our first of hopefully many Jura hikes with little miss, we decided to play it safe this time and drive to Tiocan, rather than hiking. 

From Tiocan we continued on towards Reculet, which until recently was known as the highest point in the Jura. However, being that Reculet is classified by most hiking guides as a very difficult hike, we decided in the end to take a less steep route up to the top. This was also my first "real" hike since before becoming pregnant with Oswin, so this was a bit of a test hike for me to see how much rust needed to be cleared away. 

We took a long path along the mountain, and even though the scenery didn't change as much as the route to Reculet, it was incredibly peaceful. In the 2 hours that we took to get to the top, we saw all of 4 people. Being alone in nature is always a bit surreal to me. It's like being an outsider in your own world. Nature goes on without us, and to hear the world around us on this low traffic hiking path a buzz with birds, wild flowers, tall evergreens, and the like, well, it was just incredible. It doesn't matter how often we hike, I will always be astounded and humbled by nature. 

I had never taken this path before, nor had I ever been to this peak in the Jura, so I was surprised once we got to the top because it was just other worldly. First of all, you come to the top in a rather quiet matter. It just sort of happened. With a lot of other hiking paths you can tell when you're getting close, but here we found ourselves coming around a corner and in this massive field full of wild flowers, (my favorite being the wild daffodils), surrounded by several peaks. 

And we were the only ones around. 

Except for a fox. And a Chamoix. It was so quiet that I felt as if we were trespassing into some fairy world, like something straight out of "The Lord of the Rings."

We continued to walk up a peak to try to find a good look out point, as well as a place where we could sit and enjoy our small picnic lunch. To our surprise, we came across what looked like an empty chalet. To our even greater surprise, there were two people inside. The gentleman and his wife owned the chalet, which was built in 1830, and explained to us that it was the only one in the region which still maintained it's original structure. He had been working on restoring it for the last 35 years, and would we like a look inside? 

Bien sur we did. 

And it did not disappoint. 

{The Saleve Mountain and the Rhone River}

No electricity. A big fireplace. All stone and wood. Books. Candles. A long wooden table and chairs. A vase full of wild daffodils. Firewood galore. It was like stepping into a dreamy history book written by someone with really amazing taste. 

The couple were incredibly nice, and offered to let us eat our lunch inside their home, because it would be warmer for the baby. They also offered to heat up any baby food that we needed warmed up for Oswin, on their wood stove. We politely declined as we really wanted to sit outside and enjoy the views, but would they mind if we ate by their outside fire pit?  

Afternoon was fast becoming late afternoon, with the air chilling and blowing, so after about an hour we decided to head down. Oswin was still in good spirits, but we didn't want to push our luck. We thanked the couple for their hospitality, and walked away in absolute awe of the chalet, it's dreaminess, and plans to return to this unreal spot. 

Having not done a serious hike in some time, my knees tightened up a bit on the way down, so it took about an hour and a half to get back to the car at Tiocan. I didn't mind too much though, as it gave me the opportunity to pick a few wild mountain flowers to press in memory of this awesome day. 

And as for Oswin, well, it's becoming clear to us that this little girl is a nature baby. Five hours of hiking and she was a total rock star. She was wide eyed, chit chatting, and laughing the entire time, except of course, for the two times she dozed off. Was it being so close to Papa in the sling, the bouncy-ness of the hike or the wind in her face that made her so happy? I have a feeling it was all of the above. Oswin is to hiking as a five year old is to Disney World, apparently. We're hoping to continue to work in at least one big hike a month, both on our mountain and in the surrounding Alps, so we hope little girl is ready!

As for now, this Mama is going to spend today recuperating, gardening in our new-to-us french garden (more on that later), and a little cuddling with our babe. 

Bonne dimanche tout le monde!

A la prochaine friends...


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