The Alps have decided it's Spring ....in February! 5 weeks of high pressure has brought us blue sky and sunshine for weeks on end (yawn, yawn!). So the past few weeks we've been able to enjoy 'spring skiing' with light weight gear whilst enjoying some rays. Not all bad really. Due to these warm conditions the low lying Jura cross country ski trails have been effected so our Grand Traverse of the Jura has been adapted to a Jura 'Highlights' where we make a traverse of the Jura reaching all the high points where the snow is still in good condition, 6 different nordic areas are open across the region. We are due some snow this week though so we shall see how much it brings....Julia
I'm just back to the Chamonix Valley after another great ski trip to the Jura mountains where the snow continues to fall and the temperature is staying low - keeping the tracks in excellent condition. Our 'extreme team' (The Mackenzies and Janet) have just completed approximately 100km on skis in just four days. We began our ski in Mouthe, at the source of the Doubs river, and enjoyed skiing on pressed tracks all the way to Giron which sits just north of Geneva, making it easy to depart for their late flight home. Our journey took us through a variety of mountain villages, farms & pastures used for grazing in the summer months, hilly forested areas and flat valley bottoms. Travelling with only a small backpack enabled us to enjoy skiing both the ups(!) and the downs along the way. The accommodation we use is in a mixture of rustic farm houses and small family hotels where you can enjoy local dishes, cheese and wine. The trail is also close to many wonderful coffee and cake stops! To add to the ambience of our journey we even caught up with skiers training for one of France's longest cross country ski races, the Transjurassienne which was also held over the weekend.
Ok, we can't get all of you squeezed on the blog tonight, but to keep the family happy here is your chance to see Mum in a blizzard while crossing the Jura mountains on her cross country skis! On the whole we had excellent weather and conditions but we did have the occasional snowy flurry which did ensure we had plenty of the white stuff to ski on while doing the GTJ. Jenny was great fun to be with and there was always a smile on her face, apart from when she plummeted between the bunk beds last night - anyway, dont worry she's still in one piece and will be home tomorrow. She tells us that the 'kids' will be returning with her to the Jura to make their own epic journey. Take care Jenny and hope to see you again some day.
So here we are in Giron after 8 days of crossing the Jura mountains on the GTJ. 175 km and more later and 'N' has stuck with it, improved his technique and on the last day was leading the pack to the finish line. The team have been great fun this week and eight stalwarts gritted their teeth in the face of a blizzard this morning and followed Julia through the silent snow covered forests as they completed the final 30 km. A quick stop at the Grange de l'Errance for afternoon vin chaud and excellent chocolate cake and the GTJ was in the can! Well done to all who joined us for this adventurous journey across one of regions best kept secrets!
The best part about my job - on quiet days getting away to explore a new area! NEW for winter 2010 - visit the Jura!
Sitting on the border of both France and Switzerland, the Jura, a limestone plateau, lies very close to Geneva. Steeped in history, geology and gastronomy it also has mountains that go on for miles but unlike the jagged peaks of the Alps it's of the 'Nordic rolling' variety. Therefore being ideal for so many activities; walking, Nordic walking, biking, snowshoeing and of course cross country skiing! Consider this….175km of cross country skiing as a continuous journey! In 1978 the Grandes Traversees du Jura, GTJ, was completed and is a long distance trail for all these sports! Along the way you can travel by which ever means from hotel to hotel or auberge with a small pack covering 20km per day or more!
Cross country ski enthusiasts will always quite rightly recommend the Scandinavian countries multi-day journeys. The Jura, however, also has a great deal of ski potential to offer. So much so you can easily ski for 30km or more without seeing another soul! It’s all track skiing for both skates and classic styles. The holiday potential for exploration is endless, with hundreds of km’s of other track skiing along the way not to mention the snowshoe potential.
In February I completed the ‘Tranjurasienne’ 54km skate race – a great way of seeing some of the route! And my Mum (very apt nearly being Mother’s Day!) needs to be congratulated on her first ever ski event finishing 1st in her age group in the 10km classic!
The GTJ will soon feature on our ski pages for 2010 as both a Scheduled Departure, traversing the region in 7 days, or as a Bespoke holiday.