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.
L'Arzière hike in the first snow and a big heap of wind chill
We're at the Col de la Givrine (1211m), at the far end of the pastures about a kilometre west of the train station and restaurant, a chilly 9 December 2018. The train runs from La Cure in France over Givrine and down to Nyon on Lake Geneva.
We've left instructions for our cute little Volvo to wait for us here.
We're starting up this little farm road with various destinations in mind for today -- keeping open minds in mercurial weather. A vehicle's already gone up the road today, but it's parked amongst the trees just up ahead.
A look 1km to the east, the restaurant and rail station. On a fine mid-winter's Sunday, the main road below would be lined with the parked cars mostly of families with kids and sleds.
About 2km out, that's the farm of Le Sollier, 1289m (not very recognizable at the moment, but there are only two farms out this way, and that's the first of them). So far we've been in the forest, pleasant walking in a temperature just below 0ºC, but from now on we'll be out in the open.
Ouch. A fairly brutal wind is piling in on us from the west.
A sylvan scene
No place, really, to cower out of the wind out there. Except maybe behind the stone wall.
Our next landmark, the other farm, Les Coppettes, just over the hill. The fog seems to be lifting a bit.
A look back. That's one big pasture successfully put behind us.
A zoom of Les Coppettes as we're homing in on it.
High on our list of hiking options today was a walk up Le Noirmont (1567m) overlooking the French frontier on the far side -- it's an old favorite, and we've walked up there in worse weather than this (when we were younger).
But looking at it thoughtfully now -- or looking at where it would be on a clear day -- it dawns on us that after a long struggle up the side of it we'd just be blown off the top by the wind.
So with diminished expectations, we've fixed on the farm of L'Arzière straight up there, another kilometre and half or so.
We'll duck into the shelter of Les Coppettes just for two minutes of hand-warming -- one of our party has recently discovered that he's brought no gloves or warm hat, and he's the one of us with the camera.
Les Coppettes at 1320m altitude
We are now ready to proceed.
There is a rudimentary track up the centre of the pasture, and we'll follow it.
A glance back at Les Coppettes
Past a badly-rimed wall
We're taking our time, comparing recollections of the Albert Anastasia assassination and Appalachin Mafia round-up in New York in 1957. Those were the days.
Finally, we (or one of us) has taken the notion that we've overshot our target farm, and need to set up a search strategy.
We confess that we are lost. At least micro-lost -- it's got to be round here someplace.
The farm of L'Arzière (communal pastures of the village of Arzier) looms out of the fog at 1444m asl.
We scarcely need to walk -- the wind is propelling us, thank goodness it's a tailwind.
One of our party has just remembered that the tailwind part of our walk is basically over, so what's next?
Shall we? No, no. That's the emergency search and rescue number to call; but we just need a new plan.
If we just turn round and go back, we'll look like this within minutes, but we have an alternative.
We're leaving L'Arzière and following the farm road around the east side of the small mountain just next door. It has no name but its forest is called the Bois du Carroz, and it's got the Swiss Alpine Club hut on top, the Cabane du Carroz-Jura (1507m).
Our intention is to get out of this unwelcome wind and into the lee of the big hill.
That's a pointer towards the cabane up the hill.
We've just discovered that we've been preceded, and not too long before us, judging from the two tracks.
We're winding back and forth all over the forest and may have oversimplified this 'circle' path round the Carroz hill (in fact it took us about 3km out farther to the north, oh well).
A commemorative photo of the fellow who forgot his glovies.
It's fun following these tracks, like we're all part of a friendly group, though we're not.
This goes on forever -- but we have no room for doubts now. We've brought a topographical map but it's become soggy.
And still more ooof!
Across the way we see vehicle tracks, hence a road, and there is only one place another road could be going, so now we know where we are.
Soon, the intersection of the road from Arzier past Vermeilley to L'Arzière (that's us) and to the farm of Le Croue near the Crêt des Danses.
We're taking a short cut down to a road we've seen below. There are two routes through the forest back in the way we need to go, and that is certainly the correct one.
So we proceed along it for a bit. Noticing, discomfortingly, that we don't recall any trees along the road we're meant to be on.
After a kilometre and a half through the forest, we're wondering if we might be on the wrong road. Or even, heaven forbid, a very wrong road. At least we're out of the wind.
So we're lost again. But if this is really the other road of the two, we should soon, after a few kilometres, come across a signposted hiking trail that leads from Givrine up to the Cabane du Carroz. A while ago, actually.
As the dark cloud of despair begins to settle upon us, we notice a hiking signpost.
We're saved, more or less. We'd seen this 90º corner in the stone wall on the map but had failed to find it on the Earth, which is more important. And it's got a convenient opening through it, too.
Dr Joe is becoming anxious to get this over with, perhaps.
We're out onto the road down to the rail station and restaurant, with tracks of hardy walkers all over it.
But we're going over this way instead -- the car, if it's still there, is a kilometre west of the station.
We're becoming fed up with sliding round on slippery tussocks of grass on the slopes.
But then -- let's get the heater on.