Foraging in autumn : my little loot of apples and pears …

Nuts are not the only freebies to be had in autumn. If one is lucky enough to accidentally stumble upon them or know exactly where to find them … then, autumn is also the season for some free apples or pears. Certainly they can be had for free where I am living in Lausanne.

Unfortunately, unlike the nuts … this year has not been a good year for apples as far as I am concerned. The apple trees close to home had either been cut just a few months ago so as to make way for the construction of new residential buildings … or … they bore very few apples (and were too high to pick easily).

Apple trees

Not giving up … while on a cycling excursion to look for mushrooms at Forêt du Jorat two weeks ago … I managed to persuade the hubby to make a brief stop at this place which I know has lots of apple trees to check out for apples to pick.

Apples

Unfortunately, although there were still plenty of apples for free picking … the look of the apples left much to be desired.

Apple

We did not find a single tree with decent-looking apples to pick. I do not mind some blotches … but these apples had looked very sick. So no free apples for me to get excited about … what a bummer! :(

But that was not to say that I did not get to pick any free apples lah! Only that it was not enough for me to become excited about as I could count with both hands the number of free apples that I got to collect.

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For instance, there were these apple trees that I came across with lots of beautiful looking apples begging to be picked. However, despite them growing in an open area just next to the main road … I chose not to pluck any as I was not sure whether they belonged to a building located about 20 – 30 metres away.

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Instead, after having snapped some photos, I decided to pick only a few decent looking ones which had fallen to the ground next to the walking path to bring home … as it is legally permissible to do so.

Apples

And I also picked a few that had fallen to the ground near the walking paths when we went to the village of Romainmôtier. There were many apple trees in that village … with a number of them growing next to public walking paths. It was either leaving them to rot on the ground … or picking a few to eat. So I chose to pick one from different varieties that I saw on the ground … as souvenirs from Romainmôtier ... and they were delicious! :)

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But the unexpected surprise this year was being able to pick these pears.

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I had noticed this very tall tree during one of our earlier cycling excursions to Chalet à Gobet … and I had always thought that it was an apple tree. It was only when I got to pick the fruit this year that I realised that it was, in fact, a pear tree! :)

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And just like the walnut tree near home which bore copious number of walnuts this year (there were hardly any walnuts on that tree last year) …  this pear tree appears to be enjoying the same bountiful supply of pears, too.

SAM_9677.AEvery single branches seemed to be covered with pears so that it was really incredible to see.

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If the pears had been red in colour like the apples, I believe that this tree would have look very red, indeed!

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As I walked  and cycled along the path next to the tall pear tree, it was difficult not to notice the many pears that had fallen from the tree, some of which had rolled down the slope to accumulate beside the walking path as well as on the road. They might not be very big and some might appear a little blotchy (as no pesticide has touched them) … but they were also lying there for free picking as long as one cares to spent time to select the good ones.

SAM_1005.ASo although we failed to come home with any apples during our cycling excursion to Forêt du Jorat two weeks ago  … we did come home with a basket full of pears. And this was in addition to the ones that I had picked from the same spot just two weeks earlier.

It would seem that my forage jaunts for nuts and fruits this autumn have been quite productive. However, my foraging is not over yet. There are still the mushrooms to forage for … and that is still an ongoing endeavour as long as weather permits!  :)

Foraging in autumn : going nutty on foraging …

After having realised the abundance of nature’s treasures that surrounds me … I was determined to go out and do a lot of foraging this year. So this year, I have decided that I shall spend less time tending to my balcony garden so that I can use some of that free time to go and forage for free food from nature.

Whereas in summer I had the pleasure of foraging for berries and plums … autumn is all about nuts!

Oh yes … this year, I went a little nutty … collecting all the different nuts that I could lay my hands on that are on offer by nature. And although I have now actively stopped looking for them … as I have shifted my focus onto foraging for mushrooms … I still pick them whenever I happen to chance upon any edible nuts during my little excursions to the woods.

And these are some of the nuts that I have had the pleasure of collecting (and then eating, of course!) this autumn.

DSCN2688.AHigh on my list of nuts to pick this autumn are hazelnuts. As I was a little too late to pick any last year … I started checking them out early this year so as to make sure that I would not miss them again. And this year, between the hubby and I, we managed to collect more than 1 kilogram worth in weight of wild and free hazelnuts.

Chestnuts

Second on my list, although equally important as they are our favourite, are chestnuts. While out walking and foraging for berries in summer (and having learnt to recognise the tree a little better), I realised that there are, in fact, a lot of chestnut trees in the nearby woods … as well as one that I could see from our balcony!  What a lovely surprise … :)

So this year, I went foraging for them from the nearby woods instead of having to take a train to our favourite haunt in Bouveret to collect some chestnuts. Unfortunately, being close to the city (with high resident population), I am not the only one collecting these little brown treasures. But despite the stiff competition, I was happy to have been able to collect more than 2 kilograms worth of chestnuts from the nearby woods. Okay lah … :)

Walnuts

Next on my list are walnuts. I am not exactly a fan of walnuts, but as I had seen earlier in summer that there were plenty of these nuts on the walnut tree below our balcony this year, I decided that I would go and pick some when they would start to fall. There were plenty more from a much bigger tree several hundred metres away from home … but as it grows in an area surrounded by tall grasses (which would make it more difficult to look for the nuts that had fallen), I decided that I would give the walnuts from that tree a miss lah!

Still … the hubby managed to bring home some when he went on his bicycle excursion to the village of Romainmôtier … so between us, we managed to collect more than 1 kilogram of walnuts.

SAM_0903.AAnd last but not least, although I had initially decided to give these nuts a miss this year, it was difficult to resist picking some when I saw so many of them on the ground during one of my foraging walks. This was especially so as the ones that I saw at Forêt du Jorat were much bigger than the ones that I had picked last year at Bois de Sauvabelin. So despite my best intention, I ended picking some of these beechnuts … just so that I could bring some home to try. Actually, they tasted pretty good.

Compare nuts

However, since they are very small, one has to pick and to peel a lot to make a decent meal out of the beechnuts.

So that sums up the different nuts that I have had the pleasure of collecting this autumn. Not a lot … but more than enough to keep me one happy nutty forager this year! :-D

In search of the blue lake …

SAM_0705.AAfter having seen the waterfall of ‘Dard’ near Romainmôtier we decided to go and look for another watersource several days later. This time, our object of interest was a lake … to be found in the valley of Val d’Hérens and not far from the famous mountain resort of Arolla. The name of the lake is simply ‘Lac Bleu’ or blue lake.

I had always wondered what the lake looked like whenever we went to Arolla, as the bus passes by an area with a big sign so as to entice visitors to come and check out ‘Lac Bleu’. The lake was mentioned during one conversation during our hiking excursion at Arolla with hubby’s bestie and his father just two weeks earlier … and I believed that this must have helped to pique the hubby’s interest in wanting to see the lake. So taking advantage of the nice weather in early October, we decided to go back to the mountain area near Arolla to look for the blue lake.

Once we found the lake … we have to admit that hubby’s bestie was absolutely right when he told us how beautiful this lake was. We liked it so much that we spent quite some time just admiring and enjoying the cosy atmosphere and beautiful views at Lac Bleu.

Start pointLeaving behind La Gouille (left) … the start point of our hike … and up the mountain slope we went (right) in search of Lac Bleu.

HikeWith the sun shining brightly and the temperature not overly warm … it was an ideal day to go and look for a lake up on the mountain.

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The yellowing and browning of the leaves on the trees due to the change in season made the whole area seem alive.

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Along the way, we came across a herd of cows (a black species specific to this mountain valley) happily grazing on the mountain slope under the watchful eyes of their herder (far left of the picture).

Errr … okay, the herder (which the hubby was very sure must be Léon) was actually busy looking at a mirror as he was shaving himself.  But … he certainly fixed his eyes on us when we decided to get closer to the cows so that we could snap some photos. I take it, it was out of concern for us rather than for the cows lah! :-) The animals were big and with their black hide and horns, they looked mighty fierce.

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Although it was Friday, we came across several hikers who had decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather to do some hiking like us … and most likely check out Lac Bleu, too.

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Hubby patiently waiting on a rock for me to catch up with him as I had stopped several times to take photos of some of the interesting flora and fauna that I saw along the way.

the views

But with views like this … it was not a bad spot to do some waiting while taking in some sun lah!

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So I decided that I would rest on the rock for a few minutes, too … so that I could have my fill of looking at the glacier of Arolla before us while I filled my empty stomach a little.

Mountain cabinOnce I had rested enough, we continued with our hike … and as we passed the rows of mountain chalets and huts further up the slope, we saw that one of them, named Chez Léon (Leon’s place), also served as a kind of mini café for visitors to the area. So although we had already had our rest stop only a few minutes earlier, we were keen to have another rest stop … so that we could give Monsieur Léon some business.

Unfortunately, despite the sign that stated that it was open, there was nobody at Chez Léon. (The hubby believed it was because Monsier Léon was busy looking after the cows since one of the huts was clearly a cow barn). What a disappointment … not only for the two of us … but also for another small group of French hikers who had come down the slope and were also hoping to have a drink at this rustic mountain café.

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And really … with a view like this, I am sure you would like to rest for a while and have a drink at Chez Léon, too … do you not agree? (Click on the picture to enlarge).

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So we continued with our hike … not realising that the blue lake was only a short hike up from the wooden huts. That wooden bridge in the picture is, in fact, the start of the lake … as I later found out.

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My first view of Lac Bleu … situated at 2,090 metres. The first thing that I noticed once I got near the lake was how clear the water was.

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The water was so crystal clear that one could see the contents of the lake very clearly, including the trunks of trees and branches that had fallen into the lake … so lovely. And it certainly made me feel like wanting to jump into the lake! :)

Given such a beautiful spot … naturally, I took lots and lots of photos! But here are just several selected shots of the lake area.

SAM_0430.AA wooden bridge meant for visitors to cross the lake has the unfortunate effect of separating the lake into two. This is the smaller and less popular part of the lake as most of the visitors (including us) tended to focus our attention more on the bigger part of Lac Bleu.

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A shot from up the hill showing the lake being divided into two by the wooden bridge that connects one hill to the other. (Click on the picture to enlarge).

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A shot taken from under a tree …  with the wooden bridge which is the start point for those coming from La Gouille (seen on the other side of the lake).

SAM_0486.AA shot taken near the water’s edge .. showing the crystal clear water on the lake.

SAM_0597.AThe glacier of Arolla could be seen quite clearly from Lac Bleu. I simply adored the juxtaposition of different colours on this sunny day in autumn. We were so fortunate to have seen the blue lake at this time of the year.

Reading

A small waterfall fed the lake. After checking out and snapping photos of the waterfall, the hubby then decided that he would read his book at the foot of the waterfall.

SAM_0487.AI, on the other hand, chose to sit under the shade of this tree … like a typical Southeast Asian lady who prefers to avoid being burnt by the sun! hehehe … :-D By this time, all the other hikers who were there when we had arrived had left, so that we had the whole lake to ourselves. It was sooo peaceful.

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However, I soon got tired of playing with my handphone game (as unlike the hubby, I had not brought any book with me to read) … so I decided to go and do a little exploration of the waterfall myself.

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I followed the narrow steep path at the side of the waterfall to go all the way to the top, only to realise that the fast flowing water falling down the rocky slope …

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…  actually came from underneath these huge rocks! I had assumed that it was from a glacier but I later learnt that it was, in fact, from a spring about 10 metres further up the hill.

SAM_0514_stitchThe view of Lac Bleu from on top of the waterfall. From this vantage point, the name  fits, does it not? The blue colour is the result of algae and glacial clays that inhabit the depth of the lake.

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Some Dutch hikers making their way to the lake … as seen from my spot on top of the waterfall.

SAM_0491.AA shot taken from the foot of the waterfall.

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And again another shot from under the tree where I had rested … with the glacier of Arolla rising above Lac Bleu.

We later made our way to the opposite hill to check out the view from there.

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And this was the view of Lac Bleu from the opposite hill … the arrival point for those coming down the mountains, including from Arolla. (Click on the picture to enlarge).

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I could actually see Chez Léon quite clearly from this spot. While I was busy snapping away, the hubby decided that he would do a spot of napping on the opposite hill (if you are able to spot him, that is! :) )

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A lone lady hiker coming down the mountain slope to Lac Bleu. Whereas she and a few other hikers had just arrived in the area, for us it was time to leave the blue lake.

Going down

Making our way down the mountain in order to catch the last bus back to the railway station at Sion.

Cows

And along the way, we came across the herd of black cows yet again … and this time, they were right in the middle of our path! As there was a young cow amongst them, we were careful not to attract too much attention in case the protective mummy decided to charge at us thinking that we were a threat. We got some fixed stares … but none came charging, so that was fortunate.

La Gouille

Back at La Gouille to catch our bus. We were a little early and had to wait for quite some time in the chilly evening air … but better that than missing the last bus altogether! The small lake on the bottom picture is actually a private fishing pond.

So, after several visits to the valley over the course of a few years, … I finally got to see Lac Bleu. As my favourite adage goes … better late than never lah! :)

Other entries on Arolla and Val d’Hérens: