Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Great Hiking Day to Sonloup and Les Avants

There are 100's of hiking trails within a 30 minute train ride from Vevey.  On a recent Sunday, we decided to take the hike from Blonay to Souloup-Les Avants.  Blonay is another village just a 15 minute train ride, northeast of Vevey.

Other than being hazy, it was perfect hiking weather.  There were a few clouds and the temperature was in the low 70's.

The hike from Blonay to Sonloup is about 6 km.  We started our hike at about 2,040 feet elevation. By the end of the hike we will have gained over 1,100 feet in elevation.  As with most of the hiking trails in Switzerland, the trail is well marked with yellow signs pointing us in the right direction.

View from the train. In the background is the Castle de Blonay.

Around 1150 the de Blonay family left to fight in the Crusades.  When they returned, they found the Savoy family occupying their castle.  The de Blonay’s decided to build another castle, the one pictured above, in 1228.  The previous castle has since been destroyed.

The descends of the original de Blonay family still own the castle.  

One of the many streams we encountered.

Hiking friends: Jim, John, Cindee, Patty

One of the hike highlights is this out cropping of rock, entitled "The Weeping Rock".

The shiny part of the rock is were water is "weeping" from the rock.

Somehow, this tree is growing on edge of the weeping rock out cropping where it appears a strong wind would blow it down.

During the month of May, at higher elevations, there are fields of narcissus and other wild flowers.  It is an incredible sight.  

One of the many spectacular views from the hiking trail.

We finally reached the highest elevation on our hike, 3,805 feet.  This is the Sonloup Hotel and Restaurant.  Other than a couple of other restaurants, that is all there is to it.

View from Sonloup.

On the left hand side is Dent de Jarman peak.  It is about 6,150 feet high.  There is a good hike on the backside that we plan to take later this year. Don't tell Paula. 

We are now on the trail from Souloup to Les Avants.  If you are too tired to hike down, there is a funicular at the top of Sonloup that you can ride down.  We elected to walk down.

OUR FIRST SWISS COW BELLS. As we started hiking down, Paula stopped and told us to listen. In the distance we could hear cow bells. We reached a spot on the trail were we could see the cows.  This is the first time that we have experienced this in Switzerland-the sound, sites and feeling is surreal for sure. 

The Sonloup-Les Avants funicular, which was opened on December 14, 1912, is 1,745 feet long.  It climbs at a 54% gradient to a height of 603 feet above Les Avants.

More views from the trail to Les Avants.

We have finally reached our destination, Les Avants.

The legend of Sonloup:

In the year 411 AD, before leaving Brittany with his troops, the legionnaire Andellus adopted an ailing female wolf and named her Romella.

He treated and cared for the wolf, fed her leftovers and grew very fond of her, despite the teasing of the other legionnaires, who called him Son of a Wolf.

Andellus rebuked them saying "Quiet now! It's because a she-wolf fed your ancestors that the Romans are a strong and vigorous race of men." 

One day, while the troops were resting on the shores of Lake Leman (aka Lake Geneva), the Captain, a gruff old soldier named Linus, declared that it would be necessary to get rid of all excess baggage before leaving for Lombardy.

This order included the wolf Romella, as well.

Andellus, broken-hearted, said his farewells to Romella and she understood that she would have to leave him, to go off to die in the mountains. Sadly, she started to climb the snowy slopes of Sonloup and all the men could hear her mournful cries.

In the early morning, as they left, the troops heard the final howls of Romella. And then it snowed for 7 days and 7 nights! When the sun finally reappeared, the mountain was covered in white flowers, in honor of the she-wolf Romella.
These are the narcisses.

It is said that on nights of strong wind, one can still hear the despairing wails of Romella, calling to her companions.

Les Avants, at an elevation of 3,300 feet, is a charming swiss village with a population of a little over 200, with a girls school, train station and some nice places for wining and dining.  

The village was one of the first ski resorts in Switzerland.  In 1910 it hosted the first European Ice Hockey Championship.

In 1922, Ernest Hemingway lived in this village for several months.  At that time he was writing "A Farewell to Arms" and included some of his experiences, in Les Avants, in the book.

Prior to eating lunch, we wandered through Les Avants, taking in some of the sights.

Le Chatelard.

This is a finishing school where South American girls are educated.

This tasty dish is called Croute en Fromage...aka Heart Attack on a plate. It is basically a wine soaked, open faced, ham and cheese with a fired egg on top. Every bit as good as it looks. This is what the Suisse eat after they have spent 2000 calories hiking.

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