Thursday, May 19, 2011

Route of the Counts

Alright, I'm done complaining for now. I'll just save a lot, and somehow marry all this text with the photos at some later date.


So, yesterday's run was labeled as "Route of the Counts". I found it, and a .gpx of the route (which I had major technical difficulties with, natch, but I managed to sort of get it on my phone, though not on the Garmin) on a Swiss tourism site. I also, happily, printed out the halfway decent topo map provided. It's good to have some backup, as we will see. I'm not sure why it's called Route of the Counts -- parts of the trail were well marked with lots of info, paragraphs! of info, but it was all in French and, well, you know. There were lots of little chapels and I guess the Counts had something to do with them. Alls I could think of was "ONE kilometer! Ah! Ah! Ah!" like, 15 times. I'm a simple, simple girl.

Random bus or train photo. You can't go wrong here.

So, I took a bus, then another bus, then a train -- omg I love the trains, why don't we have them everywhere? -- to the end of the line, Montbovon (ok, add a "ó" and maybe a "ć" and perhaps a ' or two, drop the "t" and the last syllable and fake a French accent, very good!). If you've never seen a "village" "nestled" in the "mountains" then by all means visit Montbovon, because really?

. . . you can't make this shit up. I know in the US -- Tahoe, anyone? -- we sometimes try to replicate this look, but it ain't nothing like the real thing. Just, amazingly lovely. So I got off the train, sat and just looked at things for a while, headed into the woods and promptly got lost. Not lost lost because, despite the fact that I can't seem to ride a bus in a foreign county without making a spectacle of myself -- never mind what I said a few posts ago, I've screwed it all up since (twice!) -- I can read a map, and I for sure was not where I was supposed to be, and couldn't figure out how to get there. THERE was on one side of the river, and I was on the other, and I couldn't really care less about it because I was seeing things like this 17th century bridge

and this, too

And I've never seen anything like that outside of New England. There were just wonderful sights everywhere, proper Route be damned. So I just kept on trotting along, finding myself in the village of Lessoc (Pronunciation? Lé Sóck, in my head) around mile 3 (Ah! Ah! Ah!).

Right in the center of this picturesque village there was this freshwater fountain. Seemingly in every Swiss village, town, city, everywhere, there's a fountain or a trough or some kind of potable water flowing, I don't know what for. There's even a stone trough just down the road from the hotel (not rural), and last night I saw them in the capital city of Bern, too. Maybe they're for these guys

who are also everywhere, mooing away, with big Swiss cowbells clonking and everything! I was right, there's a shitton of cows in this place! There are also a shitton of these in the fields

Yeah, turnstiles, which never failed to make me laugh in this odd setting. I kept on looking for somewhere to put a quarter.

In the next village after Lessoc I managed to cross the river and find the "proper" trail, some 4.5 miles (Ah! Ah! Ah! . . . ok, I'll stop now) in. Back into the woods! The whole run was fantastic, paved roads (true one-laners, like driveways), dirt roads, single track, fields and cowshit, the whole gamut. A not-so-rickety bridge over a deeep gorge

and, man, the scenery was simply off the hook.

Basically, I ran alongside a big ol valley, maybe 500 feet up, along the edge of the fringing mountains. They call them "hills" around here, actually the "pre-Alps" because compared to the ALPS, well. They're still mountains to me, Tahoe girl. I don't know what my elevation gain/loss was, that'll have to wait till I get home. I'm guessing maybe 1500 feet for the whole run, perhaps less.

This is maybe halfway through the run. My new haircut, which is shorter than I've worn it in years, isn't exactly suitable to the running outfit. I look like I have some kind nimbus around my head in the shadow I cast.

It occurred to me perhaps the trail would be better named Route of the Cords because the last maybe 4 miles (Ah! Ah! . . . oh, forget it) were lined with enough cordwood to make a wood-burning (and -gathering and -cutting and -stacking . . . and re-stacking) girl like myself fairly swoon. If you are a fellow wood-burner, you understand.

I've never seen anything like it. These loooong sections of 20" cordwood, beautifully and precisely stacked, maybe 8' high with corrugated tins roofs, going on for hundreds of feet. This is something I've since seen time anytime again here, everyone must have wood stoves. Ad they're always precisely, evenly stacked, like by a machine. Or a Swiss.

(((please imagine a nice pic of a horse in a field of wildflowers. Technical difficulties))

I stopped here for about two minutes (I stop a lot when I run, so what?) and all I could hear was the horses going "snuffle-tffddd-tffddd" or whatever that contented sound is that they make, the wind swishing through the flowers, and the ubiquitous clanking of cowbells in the distance. Quintessential Swiss scene right here.

And I ran a bit more, then I got tired. I don't know how far I had really gone at this point, because throughout the run, Gary kept losing satellite reception (for the first time ever) but he was telling me 9.5. I think it was more like 11. I was supposed to go another 3, but down in the distance I saw a village, and a village means a train, and a train meant I could rest my tired ass. The fact that it was down to the village really spoke to me, and I answered and headed on down. I took this random picture just to show what the average Swiss country house (chalet?) looks like:

and to point out that decorating with tacky plastic animals seems like a universal affliction. That's a plastic swan on the front step. My goodness.

So I missed the train by all of three minutes (punctuality, people, punctuality) but I didn't mind a bit, as I just sat at this tiny little station for an hour looking at the pretty scenery. It just doesn't get old, or boring.

Train, bus bus. I include this last photo only because these two teenaged girls:

each had pet rats, which crawled all over them for the entire ride. I think the girl in grey's rat is crawling up her sleeve, and the girl in black is either looking at her rat nesting in her décolletage, where it spent an inordinate amount of time nestled between her breasts with its little head peeking out. Either that, or she's wiping rat shit off her chest. There was a lot of that going on, too.

(((eh, the first draft was much better, of course)))

ps. OMG, not only is Tom's company providing the wireless that is making this post possible, they are also letting us use their in-office washing machine. Awesome! And, it's true, nowhere in this urban area is there anything approaching a laundry mat. Maybe everyone just buys new clothes . . .

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