Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Chemin des Crêtes in a snowstorm, 2008

The winter that began with good snow and then lost its concentration -- and then found it


The snow's been crap since New Year's, we gave up hope, and at the end of March, just before the swimmingpools were opening for the summer, God got beneficent.

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

A four-day weekend, something about Jesus evidently, and, expecting to take an afternoon walk amongst the spring flowers, we wake to a big surprise. Dieter the VW looks overwhelmed.

We're scraping off as much as we can, so Dieter can get his VW wits about him and start preparing for our adventure-ride up to the trailhead at the Col du Marchairuz.

Off we go, for our first hike of the Easter weekend.

Getting to the Col du Marchairuz requires a little patience, following along behind the snowplow.

Unseasonable surprises caught many of the village snow removal specialists on the wrong foot, but this gentleman is doing his best, headed over the pass into the Vallée de Joux. When we'd finished our hike, however, this road had another eight inches on it.

The hotel at the Col du Marchairuz. The chef was probably too busy serving up lunches to get out here with the snowblower.

Welcome to the Vallée de Joux -- Vivre la temps! -- Summer - Winter. Just getting there is a challenge today.

We're off on the famous Chemin des Crêtes trail today -- and the weather is perfect for it. Normally, with the well-deserved popularity of the Marchairuz for daytrippers, sledgers, crosscountry skiers, and fondue-eaters these days, we wouldn't be here at all without an Act of God to keep most of them away for the day.

The Chemin des Crêtes is one of the grand trans-european hiking trails and runs from Savoie France right through here to southern Germany, and today, we've got it all to our own good self!

The solitary ski track from earlier in the day at least gets us started in the right direction.

The winter's well-trudged tracks are obliterated today, and we have only the odd trail sign and our own memory for guidance. Some deal!

A hiker trying to remember where the trail is meant to go, with not too many visual clues.

Virgin forests, and a likely looking way through the trees

A glorious wet day in the Swiss Jura. Swiss winters at this altitude can be, at their worst, chilly, and wet, and really cold if you want to lie down and take a nap, but otherwise, just fun.

When in doubt, I suppose, follow the fenceposts.

The farm of Mont-de-Bière-Derrière hoves into view. Well, I'm hoving, the farm is just there waiting for me to heave. This is going to be our destination for today, as it turns out, and daylight issues are already under review.

We're still plodding up to the farm, secure in the recollection that there is a covered porch here well out of the wind.

Like a snowy ghost, we're seeking a place to repair our iced-up snowshoes.

Under the eaves, snowshoe repairs

Spring snow builds up under the key fulcrum points, ices into a structural impediment, and pops out your hinges if you don't catch it in time. If that happens, you wrap the whole thing up with bailing wire or crawl back home overnight.

Time to start for home.

Talk about snow? Our own track is nearly gone now.

A cross country ski track that came out a few hundred metres from the Col du Marchairuz guides us for the last bit.

The hotel at the Col du Marchairuz at the end of a rewarding day

Now to find our car where we left it. Uh-oh -- it's buried back there at the far end.

Normally, Dieter the VW can four-wheel-drive up the side of a building, but something about this wet snow -- we were ten minutes trying to dig the old guy out with the little avalanche shovel we keep on the back seat.

Unluckily, we forgot to scrape off the top of the car, and it looks like we got tagged by a police check in one of the lower villages -- we'll know when we get the payment slip in the post in a week or two. Not only that, but on the road home, well after dark, the snow pile on top slid down the front and wrecked the windshield wipers. Some days!!!

The road down from Marchairuz at the end of the day, 21 March 2008, Good Friday as it were.

The snowplows just not able to keep up with it, so far.

Home again.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 26 March 2008, revised 13 December 2013.


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