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.
Scenic views of a few chamois tracks in the forest near Marchairuz, 24 March 2013
Every year we seem to see fewer and fewer chamois in the local mountains, those cute, sure-footed goat-antelope things, Rupicapra rupicapra to their friends, so we need to try harder.
Starting off at the farm of the Pré d'Aubonne our chamois-hunter in chief finds himself stuck in the driveway and may need help to get out of it.
We'll pause to circumambulate the farm at the Pré d'Aubonne; wintry bucolic authenticity.
We're starting off with a detour to the Grande Baume of the Pré d'Aubonne, following unerringly my own track from a few days ago.
The Grande Baume de la Pré d'Aubonne, 125 metres deep and nearly a kilometre of passages that we will not visit at this or any other time
Our guide seeks guidance: 'now what'?
There's a lot of recent snow, but the only wildlife tracks we're seeing much of these days are from rabbits and foxes. No chamois. But in fact, not many tracks at all today.
We're not going that way!
We're sidling left and devising a Plan B.
The rest of our party is not waiting for Plan B . . .
. . . but then, what now?
When in doubt, straight up.
A quick look into a little hole in the forest, and still no chamois tracks anywhere.
It's a high point in this part of the forest, apparently, and we're hedged roundabout by sharp declivities.
More sharp declivities
Hide and seek! -- our jubilant guide has found the tracks of a huge clan of chamois who've sprinted up this hill within the past day or two.
So this is where they've been hiding. The future moms will be getting ready to become real moms in a month or so. All we've got now are tracks, no real chamois alas -- we've been laughing too hard and too loudly all the way along, and the whole family will have become guarded in our presence.
We're pleased at least to have seen some chamois tracks, and now we're freed to go off our own way.
Which is where, exactly?
Dr Pirri jumps
An intersection of forestry roads, and someone's been along it earlier in the day. We disdain signposted routes, and prefer just to become miserably lost.
Like this. Jump.
Bushwhacking is easier when most of the bushes are under a metre of snow.
"Despite everything". We're out on the broad pasture above the Chalet Neuf and below Mont de Bière Devant, at the ski hut called Malgré Tout ("despite everything"). Few if any wildlife tracks round here, by the way.
Our guide pauses to await suggestions, and then walks right out of his snowshoe. No wildlife tracks in the vicinity.
We're on the move again.
Forestry products awaiting disposition
"We disdain signposted routes, and prefer just to become miserably lost," until we decide that it's time to go home. Plod plod . . . plod.
Don't look down.
We're on a snowshoe track like the Chinese Army has been through here on manoeuvres . . .
. . . and glancing longingly off the track at a world of possibilities.
Perseverance, and a hint of boredom
Finally, we're out to the forestry buildings at the Marchairuz road.
The road over the Col du Marchairuz down into the Vallée du Joux, shrouded
The farm of the Pré d'Aubonne. Shrouded.
Dr Pirri returns to Dieter, Kristin's favorite VW mascot until I put a whack on the side paneling, so now it's only a 99.2% perfect VW mascot.