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.
The forest of Grande Rolat, 21 January 2017
Our guide is impatient already. We're setting off into the forest, mainly to see if we can find our way out of it again.
There's a special kind of freedom that comes with being hopelessly lost when we've scarcely started out. Our guide plunges on resolutely.
The sizable forest of Grande Rolat lies just north of the Col du Marchairuz in Switzerland, in the direction of the Vallée de Joux.
Our guide is leading us generally southwestward, mainly because that's where the sun is and there's nothing else to orient ourselves by, and at least there's some consistency in that.
The Grande Rolat is built over some of the same limestone structures that can be peaceable and fun for long stretches and then greet you with a big surprise if you've become inattentive.
We should have run into some landmarks by this time. But we haven't. It all looks the same.
The sun's over that way.
Or perhaps this way.
Our guide makes up in determination for any lack of a sense of direction.
And occasionally, disconcertingly, he breaks into a run.
There's the sun again. Our hike began frigidly but is presently oppressively hot.
Admitting to ourselves that we're hopelessly lost
A stone wall -- that should be findable on the map.
But now what?
We're on a predecessors' track, so presumably somebody knew where we are.
Our guide spies something worth mentioning.
It's a farmhouse in the distance. Encouraging.
A passerby on our track
We continue along the stone wall. Which has got to lead somewhere.
Mind the step!
Thoughtfully fenced off
-- Don't jump!
There's our farmhouse -- not really a farmhouse; it's the shed called the Couvert de la Sèche de Gimel, associated with these pastures called the Sèche de Gimel (the dry place belonging to the village of Gimel, which is at the foot of the mountain).
The wooded depressions in the centre of the pastures are a protected conservation area. In the copse of trees just ahead we can find, more easily in summer, Kristin's favorite limestone hole in the forest . . .
En route to the Couvert de la Sèche de Gimel
A couverte is basically just a shelter, so we mustn't expect too much.
Just the basics
Across the Sèche de Gimel, with the Marchairuz region on the horizon
The pesky passerby is back. The protected area stretches southwestward and merges with the Sèche des Amburnex.
We mustn't linger.
The Couverte and its cistern
More unsettled terrain ahead
We're on a marked hiking path for the moment, but looking for an unmarked shortcut that will start us carward.
This (if memory serves) is our unmarked level corridor back to the northeast.
A wildlife drama seems to have played out here recently.
Probably just near-freezing chamois tucking in for a chilly evening, but perhaps wild boars trying to dig up something more or less edible.
Our guide continues along our shortcut, looking for a place where it turns down toward a recognizable path.
The time is passing slowly with our interminable plodding.
We've been here many times before, of course, most memorably one time a dozen years ago when our guide . . .
On that occasion, he was able to clamber out again.