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Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 303 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.

La Genolliere is the montagne, or mountain pasturage and wood, belonging to the village of Genollier, an ancient priory of the monks of S. Claude.[1] The cave itself lies at no great distance from Arzier—­a village which may be seen in profile from the Grand Quai of Geneva, ambitiously climbing towards the summit of the last slope of the Jura.  To reach the cave from Geneva, it would be necessary to take train or steamer to Nyon, whence an early omnibus runs to S. Cergues, if crawling up the serpentine road can be called running; and from S. Cergues a guide must be taken across the Fruitiere de Nyon, if anyone can be found who knows the way.  From Arzier, however, which is nine miles up from Nyon, it was not necessary to take the S. Cergues route; and we went straight through the woods, past the site of an old convent and its drained fish-pond, and up the various rocky ridges of hill, with no guide beyond the recollection of the previous visits two and three years before, and a sort of idea that we must go north-west.  As it was not yet July, the cows had not made their summer move to the higher chalets, and we found the mountains uninhabited and still.

The point to be made for is the upper Chalet of La Genolliere, called by some of the people La Baronne, [2] though the district map puts La Baronne at some distance from the site of the glaciere.  We had some difficulty in finding the chalet, and were obliged to spread out now and then, that each might hunt a specified portion of the wood or glade for signs to guide our further advance, enjoying meanwhile the lilies of the mountain and lilies of the valley, and fixing upon curious trees and plants as landmarks for our return.  In crossing the last grass, we found the earliest vanilla orchis (Orchis nigra) of the year, and came upon beds of moonwort (Botrychium Lunaria) of so unusual a size that our progress ceased till such time as the finest specimens were secured.

Some time before reaching this point, we caught a glimpse of a dark speck on the highest summit in sight, which recalled pleasantly a night we had spent there three years before for the purpose of seeing the sun rise.[3] My sisters had revisited the Chalet des Chevres, which this dark speck represented, in 1862, and found that the small chamber in which we had slept on planks and logs had become a more total ruin than before, in the course of the winter, so that it is now utterly untenable.

From Arzier to the Chalet of La Genolliere, would be about two hours, for a man walking and mounting quickly, and never losing the way; and the glaciere lies a few minutes farther to the north-west, at an elevation of about 2,800 feet above the lake, or 4,000 feet above the sea.[4] A rough mountain road, leading over an undulating expanse of grass, passes narrowly between two small clumps of trees, each surrounded by a low circular wall, the longer diameter of the enclosure on the south side of the road being 60 feet. 

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