Livin’, Lovin’ and Laughin’ in the Snow, near Leysin

Game on

If I could choose how to spend a day with family and friends, today would be one perfect template. After Harvey and I did a reco yesterday in brilliant sunshine, of the snow-shelled walking tracks above Leysin (an hours drive north-east of Lausanne), Giles and Ruth and Jodie and I headed back there today. The sun was discreetly positioned behind high cloud, which helped to maintain snow that was fresh, soft and crunchy underfoot.
Leysin sits about 1600 metres above sea level and looks back towards the French Alps and north to the Swiss Alps. A small zig-zagging village with a heated indoor pool, all year round ice hockey rink, great cafes, patisseries, friendly locals and those hell cute, free standing swiss chalets that claim advantage in the snow fields of winter and pasture in the warm and lush of an alpine summer.
Again I had to hold the Alfa in check. Just the sniff of a new mountain road and her gear changes and growl switch to automatic. Half way between Martigny and the Leysin turn-off we stopped at a local produce caravan to sample some of the local specialities and buy   
our lunch for the forest walk. After a few minutes of zealous sampling  and parle we settled for a loaf of home made milk bread, two cheeses around 8-10 months old and a couple of pork salami sticks that would hold their own in a deli anywhere on the planet (or the galaxy for that matter).
The tourist information centre in Leysin is a great place to begin a number of walks and you can be pretty sure your car won’t be covered in snow when you get back. We followed one of the trails north through the village streets, passing by some curious highland cattle that thought my ski jacket looked yummy. It was when we turned off onto the alpine track that the experience turned up the volume. A mass of snow covered our path and hung willingly from the low flung branches. Picturesque, and with Jodie and Ruth the snow-bunnies in the lens it was one of many new photo opportunities for me. 
To walk on fresh, soft, shoe crunching snow for the first time is a sensation I will treasure. It may not be much if you have done it a million times but first times are always something special for me. That floating initial touch of rubber soul, giving way to a smooth velvet feeling of ‘I am not sure what happens next’ and then the grating crunch of an icy base before you push off further into the white unknown. I am not too sure how to describe it in relative terms. Maybe, if you can picture your toes digging into the smooth, crystal, pristine sands of Mooloolaba Beach on a January morning and add a few buckets of vanilla sno cone.
After an hour of ascending a winding pathway and icy lined steps we found a fallen log to call our own for lunch. Thank God that Giles was organized enough to bring a back-pack with useful things in it. ‘Where did  we leave our back-pack Jo?’ ‘Home?’ ‘Mmmm! We need a list.’ Giles whipped out the ever useful red Swiss army knife, Ruth sliced the bread, I managed the salami, and Jo was the fromage queen. On a piece of orange plastic, in a white jungle where you could see heaven, we talked and laughed like we were in a five star restaurant. Later on, when I was downloading the photos from the Canon onto the Apple, I realised we were, but without the price tag. After sharing a Lindt chocolate for dessert, we washed it down with water I had distilled from pure snow and headed onward and upward.
We emerged from the forest into a clearing below a road that had Jo running, leaping and flopping back first onto the white flush to do her first European snow angel. I am sure she had been planning this since January when she found out about her Switzerland job. 
The road walk took us higher and further north towards some interesting peaks, past yummy fantasy chalets with their white caps and icicle painted eaves. We were now in four directions of white and inspired to walk on into infinity which we did for another hour or so. That was when the next round of new fun started. Snow ball fights. Okay, so I was a snow-ball virgin but I caught on pretty fast after Jodie skimmed the side of my beanie with what I can only call a sneaky shot. Game on! All I knew about snowball fights is what I remember hearing on a Bill Cosby, Fat Albert vinyl back in the sixties. But I can tell you one thing about snowball fights. They are a cool, clean way to have fun and Bill Cosby was right. If you squeeze them too tight they are not fair, but fly way better. 
With the fall sky beginning to darken we turned for home taking the road all the way back to Leysin. After a casual comment that no-one had slid and hit the ice the whole day, without prior notice or rehearsal, Jo had to be the exception, but managed to bounce up as quickly as she had gone down. 
The big white day out was finished off with hot chocolate and coffee in a Leysin cafe. Cold air outside of the glass, warm hearts and conversation inside. What an awesome day. Thank you Jo and Giles and Ruth for putting anotherchapter in my book. Thank you Monsieur Snowperson for making my first walk in the white, one that has left me wanting for more. Thank you snow-ball boys.
Furry friend

Ruth and Jodie

Giles Ruth & Jo do lunch

Snow angel maker

An Eskimo pash 

Our chalet

Santa's garden

No parking AND
definitely no doggie doos!!


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