Monday, December 7, 2009

De Sion á Nax

I've always been shocked by the unavailability of data on hikes in the region. I have absolutely no idea what's wrong with all the sites but somehow normal hikes are just overlooked in general. OK, I do get that if you live next to Mont Blanc and can put on your ski shoes an mittens 30 minutes after leaving home, you're not particularla interested in taking a walk in the forest/countryside/mountains. But some people are. I'm one, my BF another.

So we were looking for hikes around Sion like crazy. We'd been invited to a friend's chalet in Nax village for the weekend but we wanted to look around first. Upon finding a small amount of misleading information on the web (if you're for the famous big hikes you'll have plenty of info, though!) we just set out for Sion, the region's capital.

The train took us to Sion (in pic) in like 1h45 minutes, which was reeeeaaaally fast. On arrival we found the tourist office closed (closes at 12.30 on Saturdays, we got there at 12.40) so we just looked through one of their little leaflets. And there it was. La bisse de Clavau.

Actually les bisses are aqueducts used for the irrigation of vineyards in the region. The Valais is a special place and I was amazed by the magic that made this valley a sunny wine growing place in the midst of the huge snowy peaks. In summer this hike is a tour of different vineyards, which offer their products to be tasted, accompanied by a traditional meal. In winter you can gape at the mountain peaks, enjoy the view -- and reach smaller villages, following the aqueduct.

So that's exactly what we did. Sion has a lot to offer so we chose one of the four castles and visited the Chateau de Valere (the pic shows the view from there). Here we saw the magnificent chapel, an old old thing the like of which I'd never seen before. It hosts the world's oldest working organ, an amazing thing to see.

From the Chateau we got to the aqueduct (Rue des Chateau-Rue du Tunnel-Rue de Loeche-Rue du Mont-Chemin du Mont) and began walking and gazing =). Actually, the route is part of Regional Route 36. The waterproof hiking map available in bookstores is a must if you want to hike in Switzerland. Although routes are well signposted in general.

We soon got to St-Léonard (around 2 hours including stops and pictures =D), from where a small yellow marked route leaves for the mountain villages. (It's not hard to find, just cross the Rhone and walk straight towards the mountains till you get to the signposts.) According to the signpost we were supposed to get to Nax in 50 minutes but after like 30-40 minutes the path disappeared. As walking along the motor road would have been a nightmare (and it was getting darker) we hitchhiked the rest of the way up. However, later the guy who picked us up showed us that a couple of minutes later the trail continues upwards. You just have to walk a bit along the road.

As this was the first time I saw mountains like this and the first time since my childhood that I saw so much snow, you can imagine how much I enjoyed the weekend. My love for this country has only deepened and those icy peaks have given me the courage to stay determined and fight my way through whatever I have to. I simply feel at home here. I feel I've finally arrived.

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