Saturday, January 13, 2007

Ibex surprise


Yesterday, Valdo was occupied for most of the day with a funeral, so I spent most of the day working on a text I've been hoping to find time to prepare for several years, part of the series of Christian apologetic leaflets I've produced for distribution at St John's. I need holiday type space to do any creative thinking, as day to day coping with church and people maintenance absorbs so much of my energy. Mid afternoon, I broke away from the computer and went for a brisk two hour walk through the forest to the West of the village. The skies were blue and there was no wind. The silence was beautiful, broken only by the occasional strange bird cry, and the screech of the mountain train whistle going past below me on its journey up to St Cergues. Blissfully peaceful. After two weeks away, I really am wound down, and feeling the benefit of the respite.

Today, we returned to the heights of the Jura, and walked again to Creux du Van, under clear skies, without a breath of wind. It was around 15 degrees in the sun, a little less in the shade, where signs of the previous few nights frost was evident, though everywhere that was exposed, the snow had melted. There were a number of walkers out, and several family groups taking advantage of the unseasonable weather to make the climb and take pictures. Walking around the entire edge of the huge cliff gave us plenty of opportunity to do what we had been unable to do on Tuesday - take pictures, of course. At the far end, we came across four Ibex (Bouquetin in French) grazing on the cliff below the path, only 4-5 metres from us, entirely unconcerned about our presence there. Normally these mountain goats are shy around people, and can only be seen grazing at dawn and dusk (well, that's the pattern of the Chamois which descend the cliff to graze in the garden of the
Cure, I have lots of photos from last year). They know how safe they are, perched on an almost vertical cliff face with a 200 metre sheer drop below them. It was a rare opportunity, which crowned another great occasion for winter mountain walking.

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