Dwight Peck's personal website

A weekend in the forest of Grande Rolat.
On tiptoes.

We always like a little variety in our forest floor, and this is the place for it.

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.

Two half-snowy hikes near the Col du Marchairuz, 11 and 12 May 2013

The spring melt-off hasn't decided what it's going to do yet, so we're carrying snowshoes and hoping for better than this.

This could be the kind of day when you put them on and take them off forty times.

We're passing by the Refuge "Intercommunale", and now striking off into the uncharted mysteries of the Grande Rolat forest floor.

It's all limestone near the surface around here, and the erosion can really make a mess.

It's endlessly interesting. Sometimes you never know what's what. Unless you're standing on a snow bridge over a biggish hole; then you find out what's what.

Biggish holes are usually open to the sky, even in the dead of winter, and snowshoes don't normally fit down the little ones. Snowshoes are off at the moment though.

What variety. We've got little holes . . .

. . . and slightly bigger holes . . .

. . . and quite a bit bigger holes;

we've got knee-deep holes, waist-deep, shoulders-deep, and a few that will swallow a Volkswagen without scraping the paint job on the sides of it.

Like this one (Glacière du Pré de St-Livres, 29 May 2013). Those are cavers down there.

That's why it's always fascinating to come along and see what you can find . . .

. . . whilst exercising suitable care.

We've also got truly ancient stone walls . . .

. . . and still more big holes.

At the edge of the forest, the cabin of Ma Chaumine ("my little cottage") . . .

. . . looking out onto the Couvert de la Sèche Gimel, snowfree.

The pièges photographiques -- 'Camera Traps', in other words. They're monitoring human and wildlife use of the area in winter, to be used in developing a management plan for the proposed Parc Naturel Régional Jura Vaudois, and they're promising that the photos are for statistical purposes and won't be used to "denounce" anyone seen not to be following the regulations. [The authorities don't like us to wander freely off the main trails, but it's not illegal yet.]

Back into the forest; snowshoes back on

The Lost and Found Department

Back onto a trail; snowshoes off

Back to Dieter our VW mascot, just as the rain resumes

We're back

And last night's rain is verging on snow now. Good fun in prospect.

Luckily it's not yet illegal to leave the marked path and strike off into the forest on our own.

Kristin's here, too, today and we're striving to keep up with our guide, Dr Joe. No bothering with snowshoes today.

One down: but a good save, as Dr Joe rolls and leaps right out of it and . . .

. . . scarcely breaks stride.


We're trending generally southwestwards, on a beautiful day.

Hikers having a good laugh at the struggling photographer

Another one down: Kristin's found a hidden hole, there's no lack of them around here.

Another one down: the photographer himself is not only well sunk in, but may be stuck.

Luckily for posterity, Kristin's got the camera now.

Getting up again used to be easy, but nowadays it's not.

Many thanks to our substitute photographer with the dogged sense of humor. Now we've got 30 archival photographs of one of our party struggling to get upright in the snow whilst trying to dismiss the whole incident as not worth recording.

Our guide is considering the options

In fact, we're all considering our options. But the pastures are not far off from here.

The farm of Joux de Bière, newly unsnowed, with the vestiges of the cross-country ski track curving round in the foreground

We're turning northeastwards to wind up today's adventures.

Waiting for the stragglers

The last hurdle to be got over



Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 7 June 2013.

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