Trekking through Vallon de Nant…

After snapping as many photos of the alpine garden of La Thomasia and its lovely flowers as we could, the hubby suggested trekking further up the mountain slope through Vallon de Nant along Sentier des Thomas (path of the Thomas family). Since the weather was cooperating nicely at that time (it was pleasantly cool after the downpour), I agreed to do more walking.

It was nice to know that we were not the only ones doing the walk … but that there were several other hikers doing their walk in the area, too. I loikeee! 🙂

It was a pleasant and enjoyable walk … if not for the fact that my heel was starting to hurt a little from wearing my brand new shoes bought just a day earlier. Well … we both got for ourselves a new pair of hiking shoes, a hiking cap as well as shirts during the sale only a day earlier!  And the pain got worse as we made our way back down the mountain slope … as the back of my heel started to swell. Despite the pain, I managed to walk all the way down to Les Plans-sur-Bex (with a brief stop at the rest house at Pont de Nant near La Thomasia) for a hot drink.

It was only when the hubby mentioned it that I realised that we had been walking (leisurely no doubt and with many photo stops) … for about 7 hours! Hmmm … no wonder my heels were complaining about having to walk in the new shoes for that long! ish, ish, ish …

The swelling did not subside fully until a few days later. So, the painful lesson learnt from this episode? To make sure that I bring a light slipper the next time I go for long walks in a brand new shoes … if I do not have the time to break them in first lah! But of course, only if I can remember to do so, that is! hehehe …

Oh well … no long walks for now, it being the fasting month … so my poor feet are saved! However, in the meantime, the hubby has been busy checking out places that we could visit so that we would already have some idea as to where we could go. What can I say … he is really bitten by the mountain walk bug! Bitten bad, indeed. But luckily for him … I enjoy doing the same! hahaha … 🙂

Okay, enjoy these photos of the trek that we did that afternoon …

Leaving La Thomasia behind us.

And heading further into the nature reserve of Vallon de Nant. The nice thing about walking here (for me) is the generally gentle slopes throughout the Sentier de Thomas. No very steep inclines … so it was not overly taxing on my lack of fitness level, especially after the food eating spree in Singapore!! hehehe …

Meeting the river Avançon de Nant (called Avançon des Plans when it flows down to Plans-sur-Bex), once again.

What seems to be a fixture to many a mountain path, two cairns (pile of stones) … that I happened to notice during the walk beside the river.

I just love walking beside flowing river … with the sound of the swift flowing water providing beautiful music to accompany my walk.

Coming across the gate to the alpage (grazing land for cows high up in the mountains) … in case any cows would venture as far down as here!

And then crossing an area that must have experienced a major avalanche in winter …

… because we could see very clearly a path strewn with rocks of all sizes coming down from the mountain! It was clearly stated on the information panels that the area is prone to avalanches, and we certainly had the proof for that statement!

One of the 12 information boards along Sentier des Thomas providing information on the valley’s flora, fauna and geology as well as the altitude of the path at this particular point … as seen across from the area where there had been the rock slide (or avalanche).

The hubby stopped often to read the boards to learn more about the valley … while I only checked them out to see the altitude of the path at which we were at that point! hehehe … But I quite liked the tepee shape of the boards. 🙂

And continuing with our walk … with other hikers joining us … or should I say, overtaking us! hehehe … Some were already making their way down the valley, as we were making our way up.

The view of the mountain Grand Muveran covered in mist with some leftover snow was just too hard to resist … from making another short photo stop to try and capture its beauty and splendour!

I would have to say that this was one of the more scenic walk along the Sentier des Thomas for me.

River flowing on one side … and mist covered mountain with pockets of snow in front as we walked. Everything was just perfect … including the nice pleasant weather!! 😉

Continuing our walk up the steepest of all the slopes throughout the path … and passing by a group of hikers on their way down from the pasture valley. However, by this time the temperature had started to rise a little … which explains why everyone was walking with their jacket off, including us!

Reaching the 10th information board along Sentier des Thomas … which meant that we were getting closer to our destination – which was to reach the 12th and last board situated at 1,500 metres of altitude.  From here …

… we could see a vast expanse of grazing land with cows in the distance. It seemed that we had reached the alpage!

It was a nice area … surrounded by mountain walls all around …

… and with the river Avançon de Nant flowing through the land on one side.

After stopping for a while to admire the alpage from this distance… we then made our way down towards it since the hiking path pointed to that direction.

There was no clear path once we hit the alpage … so we just walked across it towards these cow sheds but being mindful not to step on the cow dungs which were all over the grazing land! Initially, I was not sure whether we were going the correct way … but once we reached the sheds, true enough there was the usual walking trail sign beside the cow shed on the right … as well as an information panel pasted on the cowshed.

Cows gazing contentedly on the alpage of Vallon de Nant, which becomes the home for about a hundred cows during the months of May to October (a period called estivage from the words ‘été’ and ‘alpage’). Their milk is used to produce about 400 pieces of cheese similar in size to the ones we saw in Gruyère.

From the sheds, we walked further into the alpage amidst the grazing cows to get to the other side.

After leaving the cow-filled alpage, we then walked across this stretch of the hiking path.

Leaving the hubby behind to see to a snail which he had accidentally stepped while walking this path … I continued my walk, eager to reach our destination … mainly because I wanted to make sure that we would not be late going back down to catch the last bus leaving Les Plans-sur-Bex!

Incidentally, we saw a number of snails (escargots in French) while doing this walk. And whenever he happened to see them on the path, the hubby would pick them up and put them at the side of the path to avoid them from being trampled upon by unwary hikers. Unfortunately, despite his care … he accidentally broke the shell of one by picking it up … haizzz. Poor hubby … he felt really bad for the poor snail and spent several minutes making sure that the snail was doing ok!

I could not see exactly where our end destination was and wondered what could I expect to see once we would be there. But, according to the hubby, it should not be far from here … since we only had another 15 metres of altitude to cover to reach the end destination that is situated at 1,500 metres above sea level.

Unfortunately, we came across this … a path blocked by fast flowing water! Drats!!!  At the risk of accidentally missing a step and falling into the fast flowing water … we decided to walk further upstream to see if we could find a stretch which would enable us to step over rocks to cross the stream … but there was none. So, although we were just a few hundred metres away from reaching our destination … we had no choice but to turn back and make our way down the valley.  A pity, really … but in a way, I was also glad because my heels were really starting to hurt a lot by then!

And since we had to cut short our walk to the end of the Sentiers des Thomas … there was therefore enough time for us to stop at this local shop at Pont de Nant … to buy some of their local produce (a few type of cheese and home-made jams) … as well as having a quick drink at the rest house! I loikeeee! 🙂

While the hubby was busy shopping for cheese, I could not help but admire the painted milk jugs that decorated the shop. It would be nice to have one … if only we had the space for it at home! And then there was also an old cable car that decorated the exterior of the rest house (something that we had already seen elsewhere on our previous mountain excursions!) I wonder how much the owner paid for this old cable car…

And when we went inside the rest house to have a drink, we both fell in love with the cosy interior and beautiful décor.  The dining room was just delightful …and, of course, I thus took several photos of the room and its decoration! hehehe … It is also very child friendly, as there was a children play-area inside the room … and the toilet even had a stool and kiddie’s toilet seat and a nappy changing board. Very thoughtful, no?

It was tempting to stay and enjoy the lovely ambience in the dining room of the rest house .. but mindful of the time we had had, we did not stay too long at Pont de Nant. And it was lucky that we did not … because we arrived at Les Plans-sur-Bex just as the last bus pulled up in front of the bus stop there … and just before the rain started to pour down heavily again! Oh wow … are we not lucky?!! Pheww … 🙂

Other entries on the area:

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