Crêt au Bovairon was another of those Jura anomalies - a named peak that, once you were standing on its highest point, you had to wonder why it was a named peak, while so many other summits across the range - many of which are far more spectacular - are not. Not that it really matters, it still provided a great destination for a great hike. It's actually number 66 on the list of the highest named peaks in the Jura and, although there were higher points in its immediate vicinity, it's registered with 1440 metres as its highest point.
We (Lis and I, and fellow-hikers-for-the-day Mandy and Klaske) set-out from the car-park at La Givrine at about 10am, passing-by the La Givrine restaurant and heading-up the road towards the La Genolière and Le Vermeilley homesteads - both of which do great fondue service in winter, but were now focused on their summer business - managing their herds of cows and producing lots of Jura milk. It wasn't surprising therefore that our day turned-out to be something of a a "Day of the Cows", with regular reminders that, at this time of the year, much of the Jura is focussed on getting the most out of the alpine pastures before the coming of the colder months and the "Désalpes" - the "Descente de l'alpage". This is an annual event - on the eve of the first snows of winter - when the mountain communities bring their cows down from the summer pastures. This is usually a grand occasion, with flugelhorns blowing, much pomp and circumstance, and all of the cows bedecked with their very best bells and ornate head-dresses of flowers. If we get along to one of them this year (just about every village along the Jura has a ceremony), I'll post a couple of photos.
We passed a small herd of cows more or less as soon as we'd left La Givrine - a bunch of very content-looking Montbéliards (the characteristic Jura breed). Montbéliards were developed as prolificly-productive dairy cows over the centuries by Swiss Mennonite farmers, and officially accepted as a new breed in 1889. The red-and-white pied cows weigh between 600 and 700 kilograms and produce copious amounts of milk that is perfect for cheese-making. They are ubiquitous in the high alpine meadows in summer - making it very important to watch where you're putting your feet as you cross their pastures. There's lots of "cow bombs" for the unwary to step in. Yuk!
The road (which we've previously snow-shoed along many times in winter), gradually swung around to the east, and took us deeper into the Parc Jurassien Vaudois protected area. This part of the Jura is a multi-use regional park - with a mix of uses including strict nature protection, grazing, silviculture (forestry), and recreation. In summer it's predominantly a mix of farming, forestry and hiking. In winter, the white landscape is popular with skiers, snow-shoers and day-trippers heading for one of the farm homesteads that convert to buvettes - serving cheese fondues - when all of the cattle have been taken down to the low-country.
We soon passed-by the first of these homesteads - La Genolière (1348m) - which is tucked slightly away from the trail, a couple of kilometres northeast of La Givrine. In winter there would have been a steady trail of day-trippers heading up here now to get a table for a winter-perfect pot of hot cheese fondue. But today there were just a couple of hikers, and a handful of mountain-bikers who rushed past us downhill, heading in the opposite direction. We stopped at La Genolière only long enough to take a couple of photos, then headed further east along the trail towards our next way-point - Haut Mont - which was 15 minutes further along the trail.
Jura peaks bagged:
- Crêt au Bovairon (No 66) 1440
- Like all of Switzerland, the Jura is famous for its cheeses. There are hundreds of varieties of cheese all across the country, with a huge proportion of these (including some of the most famous) made in the Jura - many only made and consumed locally, and thus unknown to the rest of the world.
- When hiking through the Jura countryside one often sees "fromageries" or "fruitières" marked on the maps - in town and country. These are the diaries where local milk is crafted into tasty cheese. Hiking to Crêt au Bovairon, we passed not far from an area marked on the map as "Fruitières de Nyon" - referring no doubt to all of the alpine farms tucked away in the Jura folds above St Cergue and La Givrine.
- Some of the better-known Swiss Jura cheeses include: Tête de Moine, Vacherin Mont-d'Or, Montagne du Jura, and Gruyère du Jura Suisse (Jura Gruyère).
- Others (from both the French and Swiss Jura) include: Appenzeller, Bleu de Gex, Cancoittotte, Chaux-d'Abel, Comté, Crémeux du Jura, Douceur du Jura, Gruyère alpage, Jura Erguel, Jura Mont Soleil, Jura Rebell, Morbier, Mousseron Jurassien, Raclette, Tomme de Montagne, Tomme Vaudois, Vacherin Fribourgeois, and Vallgrotte.