Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Winter 2013-2014

Dispatches from way, way behind the lines in Switzerland


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.

Views of some more wintry farms in the forest of Grande Rolat

We're on the road up to the Col du Marchairuz, 9 February 2014. We're progressing our project to find a way direttissima through the forest of Grande Rolat to the farm of Chalet Neuf -- we've got through Phases 1 and 2 and today: this is Phase 3.

We're leaving Dieter VW in good company in a layby near the farm of Meylande Dessus on the Marchairuz road to the Vallée du Joux.

The farm of Meylande Dessus (1321m) across the road, with Mont Tendre on the horizon

Today we'll push our adventures farther to the Chalet de la Croix, and then decide our next steps.

The afternoon stretches out before us, full of possibilities.

A glance back, but Dieter's already out of sight

The cisterne at 1314m, right on schedule

There's a signposted path near here, over to the right, but today we won't be taking that one.

The citerne

Its inner workings

And we proceed, due southwest. Direttissima.

A lot of rough ground is slowing us up. We haven't got all day!

We've wrestled our way out to another long pasture heading southwest, with some recent ski tracks already on it.

The ski tracks have pursued their own sporting agenda.

The end of the pasture and back into the woods

A stone wall, with another ski track preceding us

The juncture of two stone walls is on the map, and the message is straightforward: Follow this one. Just stick with it, everything will be all right.

The day is surprisingly sunny, and the woods are perfectly silent. Except for the EasyJets overhead.

Stay with the stone wall; it holds all the answers.

We cleave to the stone wall and let it do the thinking for us.

The stone wall, as predicted by the Office fédéral de topographie swisstopo, has led us to a perpendicular farm road that leads to the Réfuge de la Joratte, and near here we should find a sort of driveway to the Chalet de la Croix.

This must be it.

Bingo.

The Chalet de la Croix. If the present theory is correct.

Photos of the Chalet de la Croix

It's certainly a splendid location, especially on a sunny day. Our other motive for being in this place at this time is to pick up some more winter photos for our Farms of the Jura series, and this is one farm that we have not got.

In the interests of our farms series, we need to walk all round the building and photograph it from various angles. And verify that we've got the right one . . .

. . . because you never know when you might have taken a wrong turn by the Big Tree and fetched up four kilometres the other way.

Ah, good.

The Chalet de la Croix sits at 1334m out on a kind of promontory, with forest sliding off on three sides. On one of them, rather nasty forest, but that's not for today.

The southwest end of the Chalet de la Croix

The southeast side

We proceed -- still going towards the southwest.

Snowy scene. This beautiful tongue of land is leading us somewhat off course. We need to reflect awhile.

The decision has been made without our even noticing. Phase 4 to the Chalet Neuf will await our next sortie, and now it's over the wall to see about photographing a few more farms and getting back out before nightfall.

We're down off the ridge and facing the farm of Le Cerney (1283m), across the broad stretch of pasture following the road up to the Combe des Begnines and Mont Sâla.

Photos of Le Cerney

The road passes up the centre just beyond these trees, and at the moment we're consumed with hope that there will be a hearty large-group snowshoe track on it, to speed our retreat a little later.

The farm of Le Cerney, and the road following those little fence posts. Our answer awaits us.

A good track: not just a ski track, which would be useless; there are some snowshoe tracks, and some . . . are those dog tracks?

We'll go up and make some photographs all round the farm.

Behold. Dogs making tracks. And two hardy women encouraging them.

Mush.

Trouble. One of them's off her sled. Now back on it again. Off they go into the distance.

The front of Le Cerney

A partner in the "Flavors of the Vaudois Jura" programme -- probably meaning that you can purchase fresh cheeses here when the snows melt off. Built in 1774.

We're just above the town of Le Brassus in the Vallée du Joux, and even on the Lake Geneva side of the Jura, many of the mountain farms from the great stone/concrete farm building era of ca. 1745-1780 were made by artisans from Le Brassus. (Learnt from RandoNature signs on the farms above Bassins)

We're circumambulating.

We observe that on this back side of the building there's another long parallel pasture that looks inviting. But that's for another day.

Back to the front. Now we're off.

Lovely dogsled tracks

Goodbye to Le Cerney farm

Scenic farm

In the footsteps of canine heroes.

The Le Cerney farm is still visible back there.

And now here's the farm of Le Cerniat (1277m). According to Henry Suter, place-names cognate with Cerney and Cerniat (and Cergnat, a hamlet near Leysin) derive from an early patois term to a method of clearing trees to create pastures and farm land, related to an ancient common word for a circle.

Photos of La Cerniat

We'll do another circumambulation whilst the light holds.

A skier from earlier today

Around the back side

End on, and no more time to dawdle

Back onto the dogsled track along the road. But we've just realized that, amongst parallel pastures, we're on the wrong level. We need to turn up the hill a ways.

Another level up -- not really anticipated, but if that's the farm of Lande Dessus, it's all starting to make sense, sort of.

Photos of Lande Dessus

Lande Dessus (1269m)

We won't entirely circumambulate this time; it's getting late.

Up and over the next ridge

That's our cisterne. We'll just plod down to the car.

Stupidly, rather than plod down to the car, we elected to go through the woods, which turned out to be a calcareous minefield.

Mind your step.

A ski gang has been through this part a few days ago, and we'll use them as testers for a ways.

The skiers have bailed out to the open pastures, but we'll see this through out of curiosity.

Enough is enough.

It's nearly dinnertime, and Dieter VW's ready to go home.

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