Dwight Peck's personal website

Hikes in the porous forest of Grande Rolat

Winter 2006-2007 spent waiting around for winter

Scraggly old forests, with holes in the bottom, present challenges both physical and, to some extent, intellectual

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 squats just west of the Col du Marchairuz between Nyon and the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland. The relief is extraordinarily varied but it all lies between 1300m and 1390m in a jumble of dead and dying trees, a few live ones, tiny limestone cliffs and ridges and holes both small and sometimes fairly big.

7 January 2007: Drs Pirri and Peck do walkabout in the forest

An ominous start

Here's a fairly big hole we've never stumbled across before and hope not to stumble across now.

No discernible bottom. A thoughtful passerby has thrown a piece of wood across it so you can have a fair go at catching yourself as you descend.

Nasty hole in the gently sloping forest at 1370m

Near the end of the day, Dr Pirri leaps over a stone wall near the Couvert de la Sèche de Gimel.

That leap didn't work out, so now Dr Pirri is trying a different method.

28 January 2007: Kristin is visiting, and we're off through the forest of Grande Rolat

The fashionable earmuffs are wired for BBC World.

Someone's gone down a hole in the forest floor, and Dr Pirri lends a hand dragging her out of it again.

What a mess.

Repairing the snowshoes again for additional adventures

Dr Pirri returning through the forest of Grande Rolat, skillfully evading the holes in the terrain. We're completely lost in the forest at this point, but that's okay, in fact, that was the point of the thing.

More of the downside -- into another limestone hole in the forest floor, and then, athletically, energetically, and nimbly, back out of it again.

10 February 2007: We've come back to have another look at that strange round cistern-like hole in the forest of Grande Rolat.

And, miraculously, in this unchartable jumble of limestone irregularities and forestry detritus, we've found it.

Since we were here last (see above), someone has thoughtfully thrown another stick of wood across the hole, to help those who might fall into it and also help the snow to cover it up properly, so that eventually someone will fall into it.

An ominous, deep shadow at the moment -- we'll come back later (see below) to have a better look.

An afternoon's march through the dark forest of Grande Rolat, with its limestone jumble

Step carefully

Many lovely passages through the forest of Grande Rolat make you want to poke the ground in front of you with your ski pole before stepping onto it. That makes for slow going.

We've passed Joratte by this time and we're curving around southward, or perhaps northward, in hopes of finding the réfuge intercommunal . . .

. . . and bingo! here it is. So that's done, and now we'll head on back by an out-of-the-way route towards the car.

4 March 2007: Near the farm at Sèche des Amburnex

We made it to the venue, but the lighting was not cooperating, and this is about the best we could do, photo-wise. More.

It's a very grim day in Switzerland today; no working on our tan this afternoon. But more limestone fun awaits us in the forest of Grande Rolat on the way back to the car.

Ballet shoes might be more useful than snowshoes for tippy-toeing across this limestone minefield.

Try the left, but if not, try the right, or leap across, then try the left again.

This is probably one of the most varied hiking forests in the world, but off the few trails you can't expect to get much more than a kilometre in a half hour.

Quel surprise! After searching for it for half an hour and having given it up, we emerged out of the forest into this clearing and HERE IT IS.

It looks like a well, now with TWO bits of wood thrown across it for you to grab on to, if worse comes to worst.

If you should need to fall into a hole, this looks like one of the ones not to choose.

And that's a lovely automobile to come home to, with a bin in the back for wet, icy snowshoes.

from SwitzerlandMobility (http://map.schweizmobil.ch/?lang=en)

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 5 September 2014.

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