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.
Lost again, and then found, 14 March 2017
The marked trail out southwestward from the Col du Marchairuz, in the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland, has been well-traveled in recent weeks. So we not by us, too?
So many eager hikers have been here before us that the track is hard on the knees. Like walking on the sidewalk, in snowshoes.
Our guide today is questioning the concept. But following the track is the fastest way to get out a ways from any potential throngs of gaily-clad fellow hikers.
Off the track, there are all kinds of things that could slow us down.
Time passes -- we are so fed up with plodding on the concretish trail.
Finally, with expletives (deleted), the need for a decision is overtaking us.
Our guide, in his exasperation, bolts off the track to the high ground.
So we have to follow and hope it all works out.
A dead end, apparently. -- Jump!
Confident that a way off of this can be found
A stone wall below (a stone wall shows up on the map in a way that a tree does not).
A gap in the stone wall, good (crossing stone walls gracefully becomes more awkward with each passing year). And up the other side.
-- Either jump or go back uphill.
Back uphill it is.
Our guide has chosen a promising way over our little impediment, but . . .
. . . we've found a more promising one, we believe.
Our guide has underestimated his foe. Who knows what lies under a smooth slope of snow?
Whilst our chosen route appears to be easy-peasy
We're almost up. We'll shout down at our guide and photograph his struggles.
We find our guide awaiting us impatiently. Which may be why he's the guide and we're not.
On the other hand, our guide doesn't remember that snow-covered fallen trees are usually hollow underneath, like little snowshoe traps.
The trick is to leap up onto the tree trunk, and then jump!
Here's another stone wall -- so over we go. But we think we recall that there are only two stone walls in this vicinity, so . . . surprise, we know where we are now.
This is the old Chemin des Crêtes long-distance hiking path -- this long section was abandoned years ago, and the new Chemin runs along parallel to us on the ridge through open meadows about 40 meters below on the right. We've always preferred the unsignposted old trail.
Half a kilometre farther along to the southwest, at a subtle junction in the ways, our guide is exploring his memory with not much luck so far.
Happily, we're able to suggest that we should be going back up to the ridge and down the Lake Geneva side of it.
Over the ridge and down the hill, on a real path this time.
One of the few landmarks in this area, the Fontaine Valier, about 20m below the ridge line, overlooking the Pré de Rolle and ultimately Lake Geneva.
The Fontaine Valier is special -- one of very few water sources in the porous limestone of the Jura, and the one highest up along the summit ridges, since 1720 it's been canalized off for the livestock in the pastures down below. In the early 1990s the system was renewed and the fountain's trough was set up here -- "Ce site est placé sous la sauvegarde du public!"
Long lines of pesky rockbands attend us as we try to progress back northeastward . . .
. . . with no end in sight, so . . .
. . . we're agreed that wrestling our little plastic snowshoes over a possibly huge series of obstacles all the way back up the hill is just not on.
But our way forward is blocked by cliffs (another lapse of memory), so if not up, then down.
As it happens, our normally imperfect memories are trying to convince us that this is actually a path, however unmarked it may be, that might well lead us to a place we'd like to go to.
Taking an important call
Our memories, as pure luck would have it, were correct -- here is a junction of marked hiking and mountain biking trails, and we have but to plod up the well-packed path to Marchairuz.
But we can't do it. The joys of wandering mostly lost are too powerful, and we'll find our own way home, many thanks.
The general direction is correct, judging by the sun behind us, so how hard could this be?
Actually, we're following the prompts and cues of memory again, but this time it's not working out as well.
But the general direction is correct. Judging by the sun.
A familiar sight, not far from the hotel at the Col du Marchairuz
And the sounds of automobiles near the col. We're on the marked trail again.
And Dr Joe's car is still where we left it.