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.
Just enough snow to be getting on with, 11 February 2017
We're starting out, enthusiastically, at the stand du tir or community firing range above Longirod, 937m asl. Swiss males up to a certain age need to take their shooting tests periodically, so as here many practice ranges include picnic and outdoor-party facilities for the families as well.
Already our guide has become bored with the track and led us up onto a "short cut".
Not all short cuts are created equal.
At last, some sort of clearing up ahead.
Instantly recognizable, with its iconic tree out front: the farm of La Goncerue at about 1056m asl.
There is a track that leads farther upward from behind the building, but we're heading for another track off to the right.
Our guide approaches another pasture farther up the hill a ways.
The pasture is called La Reguéla, with just a shed on it.
We're plodding along an animal track across the fields.
The shed at the Reguéla meadow, at 1149m asl
At the top of a steep stovepipe sort of track straight up, our guide is signalling a new landmark.
This is where a dirt track up from Marchissy meets the paved but unplowed road up from Longirod -- as the sign indicates, this is a Voie Verte with no mechanized vehicles permitted, but these sporty snowmobile lads weren't troubled at all about that.
The road up from Longirod continues up the hill, eventually to La Neuve, and we'll need to stumble along on snowmobile tracks for a while.
Our next stop: the farm of Les Frasses at 1244m
The name seems to have something to do with a place for harvesting ash trees; there's another of the same name above Bassins about 5km to the southwest.
We're still discussing our itinerary for today.
Les Frasses . . .
. . . with its badly worn Swiss national flag
There is a very old track that leads like a ramp up 100 vertical meters through the steep forest above.
It looks like a desperate wild boar has been working hard to find anything all that's edible.
A very unsatisfactory grey-day photograph of Mont Blanc from the pastures at Les Frasses
Starting up our little track
As our plans mature, we've decided to leave the ramp to the higher level for another day, and to turn down into the forest again, on another little track which always lets us down.
We've lost it already, so our guide must improvise.
We're looking for the dirt road that comes along from Marchissy, but it appears to have been moved.
More bushwhacking, now thoroughly disoriented and turned around
A little more guesswork, which doesn't help at all
At last, moments before despairing, we've popped out onto the forestry track from Marchissy, and we find a gentleman casually standing in the snow apparently with no purpose in mind. He studiously ignores us and seems content with his situation.
Between us and our gentleman up the road, recent tire tracks wallowing dangerously in snow drifts seem to provide clues. Moments later, as we're leaving the road to bushwhack farther down the hill, a sturdy dépannage jeep with a winch on it labors up from Marchissey, and the laughing driver asks us if we've seen a gentleman who's bien planté his vehicle into a snowdrift.
We continue down the hill, and eventually come across our uphill track far from where we expected it to be.
Our uphill track has recently been used by someone in street shoes who's followed it down the hill and then back up again. There's no cellphone signal in this area, so fun-loving drivers who've bien planté their SUVs into snowbanks must find their way down to Longirod to make a call for help, and then back up again to await their (expensive) rescue.
Back to the trailhead near Longirod, 5 hours after starting out and none the wiser now.