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.
Some sightseer's snaps of an inclement walk in the forest
It's 13 January and the weather is obviously rubbish, but the mood is upon us for a bracing walk in The Nature. So here we are on the A9 autoroute at the heights of Lausanne, doubting our judgment a bit.
Up through the villages above Lake Geneva, we're about at the level of Bière, 800m altitude or so, and starting up the mountain towards the Col du Marchairuz. Very keen to hike!
So far our cute little Volvo is holding the road fairly well, and the snowplow has been out and about. When we first moved over to the Jura from the Alps, this road over to the Vallée du Joux wasn't cleared in winter, but after the renovation of the hotel/restaurant at Marchairuz the area has become a winter wonderland for family sledding, cross-country skiing, and fondue lunches at the Col.
Depending upon the weather, of course.
Nearly at the Col, the Pré de Rolle off to the left, the Pré d'Aubonne on the right. These are communal pastures owned by the villages down the hill, leased to the farmer families.
The last stretch up to the Col, at 1447m asl . . .
. . . and down the other side, where the hardy cross-country skiers are already heading out.
This is one of our favorite trailheads, but we've just seen a small party starting out from that snowfree van, and we'd prefer a place with a little more peace and quiet.
Like this one, 500m farther along the road
The new snow is wetter and deeper than we're in the mood for today, but happily there's a snowshoers' track from some days ago easing our way up into the centre of the little forest of Petite Rolat.
It looks like we've got the place to ourselves. Good for contemplation, and meditation. 'Mind-centering', and so on.
We briefly lost our predecessors' track, but there it is.
The tree's taken a knee sometime after our predecessors passed under it, but cleverly we've gone round it.
Here's where the forest track ends, and our group has found a convenient way over the wall. If memory serves, the forest on the other side of the wall is a limestone minefield.
Bonus track: Here's a poignant memory flash of our hiking companion Dr Joe experiencing this same minefield 17 years ago. Had to winch him out.
We'll continue to follow our friends if we can, though . . .
. . . we're reassured to find that they took a hard left turn and stayed close to the wall.
We continue to follow their track but by this time, we're lost, and they were probably were, too.
We reach a high point, hopefully a lookout point.
And it sort of is, but it's not the way we wanted to go, so we'll go back a ways . . .
. . . and pick up the track again.
Some time later, we seem to have come right the way round and re-entered the minefield.
Mind the step.
Now we're in a muddle.
Our predecessors have bolted straight across the minefield and, assuming that they made it across, we'll follow with confidence.
Confidence and suitable caution (as the sage said, 'Trust, but verify')
We're coming out of the forest soon, it seems.
A gateway through the wall; we're not lost anymore. Our predecessors have turned left and headed back for the main road near the farm of Meylande Dessus.
And some skiers have come through, probably earlier today, and headed out across the open pastures of La Plateforme. We could follow them, but we won't.
The green stick indicates that when the weather's settled down and brightened up a bit, a cross-country piste-making machine will come through here and make a nice track. But we're going to go off in the other direction.
That, in the middle of the Plateforme, is the farm shed called 'La Plateforme', about 400m east of us.
In fact, we've taken the notion that, as however unexpectedly we're here, we'll proceed into the forest up the hill to the north and look for the farm called Petites Chaumilles as our destination for today.
Though this forest looks as dicey as the one we've just come out of.
Very slow going, to be honest; tedious
It's all a bit tiring; perhaps we'll rethink our destination plans.
We're temporarily out of the minefield, but we expected to find a farm road or track here leading us to the farm. Perhaps this is a good time to give it up and find a way back to the car.
We come to still another stone wall, and a shadow through the trees that looks like it just might be a farmhouse in the distance. We'd better investigate. First, though, the wall.
Well, that was certainly inelegant.
That's the Petites Chaumilles all right. How long will this take?
It's unfortunately taking quite a long time indeed. Pausing from time to time, etc.
We've haven't been here in some years, and we're looking forward to adding a few new photos to our farms collection.
The views from here, we recall, facing the Grand Cunay and Marchairuz, can be spectacular, but not today.
We're not alone. Oh . . . yes, we are.
Time to get a move on.
We're heading more or less straight downhill to see if we can find a way back to the car.
A little fatigue may be creeping in. The snow is rather nasty today, clumping up hard and having to be banged out of the snowshoes with a skipole every five or six steps.
Back to ground level, that's the shed of La Plateforme. Progress.
With luck we can sit on the little fence and get to work on de-icing the snowshoes with our Swiss army knife.
Back in the general direction of the main road
All we need now is to find a way through the forest
to our carpark, and if memory serves . . . in fact, memory is not serving at all, and this location is precisely off the edge of the Swiss topographical map 1241 'Marchairuz'.
The pasture, alongside another limestone minefield, must be taking us in the right direction more or less.
But the pasture eventually comes to an end, and we're back in the trackless forest, a little bit frustrated at the moment.
In fact, really lost now, we've just spent more than half an hour walking basically in circles. Crossing and recrossing our own track from when we were already lost. We'll settle for anything at this point.
Like this stone wall, and another inelegant battle with it, but it's straight and has to go somewhere.
And in the end, as the sun drops lower in the sky (presumably), we pop out of the forest onto the Marchairuz road and plod 400m along it to rejoin our cute little Volvo. And crank up the heater.
A little bit of frustration towards the end, not so pleasant, but taken all in all it was a very fun day out.