Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2013-2014

Dispatches from way, way behind the lines in Switzerland

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.

Phase 4 for Chalet Neuf in prospect

16 February 2014: Once again we're progressing our project to find a way direttissima through the forest of Grande Rolat to the farm of Chalet Neuf -- we've got through Phases 1 and 2 and Phase 3, and this is going to be Phase 4, with assistance and leadership from Dr Joe. Off he goes.

The citerne at 1314m, as expected. Virtually at a sprint.

We leave the cisterne behind and dart around the forest patch that slowed us up brutally last week.
We're streamlining.

Now we're short-cutting to another long pasture that we came upon last week, for easier going. Streamlining.

This way, Dr Joe. If memory serves.

Our guide has an instinct for these things. And hints of my week-old track before him.

As we learnt last week, after a certain point, "follow the stone wall".

No, Dr Joe, just follow the stone wall.

That's right.

Down to the road to the Réfuge de la Joratte. As expected. Now to find the driveway to the Chalet de la Croix.


This is our guide's first view of the Chalet de la Croix, tucked up into its little forest niche. And our second.

Dr Joe is suitably impressed, even without the transcendent sunlight we viewed it in last week.

This time we're proceeding off the southeastern side of the chalet's hilltop -- still thinking in terms of direttissima, more or less.

-- Ground floor, please.

-- Now what?

-- All right, you go that way, Professor. I'm looking for something a little more straightforward.

This is all starting to look like a calcareous minefield.

Mind the step.

The Swisstopo map shows this holey terrain quite clearly -- we should have brought our reading glasses.

Potentially a minefield.

We're going where the terrain wants us to go, rather than where we want to go.

Ploop. A nasty hole, and in Dr Pirri's defense there were none of the usual telltale signs of it.

That's one key point about snowshoes -- they're very helpful on the surface, but once you get them snuggled down under the rocks and stout roots, they may never come out again. (And they've got your foot.)

That's ten minutes lost from our tight schedule. But at least we've got Dr Joe back.

Dr Joe is being more vigilant that has been his wont.

A bit more tentative. Even cautious.

It's still a minefield. But we come out onto an unsignposted path and immediately misidentify it, processing south towards Pierre à Ecusson instead of west towards a fair shot at Chalet Neuf.

A trail marker now, where there wasn't supposed to be one, but never mind. Dr Joe is not undamaged from his wrestling with the underworld, and we're not going to make it through any more uncharted forest to Chalet Neuf today. That will be for Phase 5.

We're out onto the broad meadow with road, at Le Cerney, and looking forward to an expeditious walk home on whatever predecessors' tracks we may find on the roadway.

We find a good track, happily, on top of the dogsled track from last week, and we leave the farm of Le Cerney behind.

We're ambling along the old dogsled track, still enjoying our venerable Cheney imitations, when Beep! Beep! A dogsled driver has slipped up behind us and would like to pass.

She was not only the same dogsled driver (or musher?) we saw last week, she was very friendly and also beautiful. Mush.

Another geographical trick we learnt last week: we can now head straight forward towards the farm of Lande Dessus and cut out a few more unnecessary uphills.

Lande Dessus and a nearby shed

Lande Dessus -- with a downhill ski slope off Molards on the far side of the Marchairuz road

The easy way will not be sufficient for Dr Joe, alas.

A little more poking about in the forest will be necessary on the final lap.

The more complicated the better

Back to the cisterne, and down to the car.

And the sun finally comes out.

Click here

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

Recent Events