Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2018-2019

Let's see if we can squeeze through another Year of Trump!

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.

A day out in the Jura in a good stiff breeze

Awkward weather, another grey day in the Jura, 11 February 2019, but we are brimming with enthusiasm on this well-worn snowshoe track leading northeastward from the grand virage on the France-facing side of the Col du Marchairuz.

We've been here quite a few times over the years, but we remember very little about it.

This is the one-lane road that leads out a couple of kilometres and then doubles back up the hill to the farm of Mont de Bière Derrière on the Chemin des Crêtes long-distance hiking trail.

It seems to go on forever and ever, but it's easy walking after several hundred snowshoers have passed this way already. Not today, though; the weather forecast won't be enticing too many people out of the cosy Family Room.

New snow is predicted for about an hour from now, but lots of little flakes flying about keep our spirits up in the meantime.

We're looking down at the farm of Pré de Denens, alongside the long-distance Mollendruz cross-country ski track about 60m lower down the hillside. That's France in the distance.

Trudging along, with frequent pauses to compare notes about Hollywood movie stars from the '30s to the '50s.

That's the shed, 2km off, in the middle of the flat meadows called La Plateforme (which about a month ago appeared close up out of the fog to reorient us on a tiring day out).

We're exiting the region of steep forest for a little breathing space.

A Rega rescue helicopter has just whizzed over us, heading in the direction of the Club Alpin Suisse refuge the Cabane du Cunay, about 3km to the northeast. Hope everybody's all right -- though that wouldn't explain the helicopter.

The first signs of a little snow, as the wind picks up, and we leave the road which has just turned back up to the Mont de Bière Derrière farm. We're off for uncharted territory, except for the skiers who've preceded us.

The Rega rescue helicopter has retrieved whomever it's come for.

Another dead tree beckons -- we were probably directly under the summit of Grand Cunay at this point, but we didn't recognize it at the time.

The solitary tree, standing tall out here all night and day, in every kind of weather, has got its own kind of dignity that we could never hope to equal. (Aesthetically, it's probably a match-up.)

We'd been dreaming about going up over Grand Cunay, and this was our big chance -- just 60m straight up through the woods and Bob's Your Uncle. Had we but known.

Over a kind of high point with a fairly brutal tailwind boosting us along

We're a little mixed up about matters topographical and looking forward to seeing what's over this vantage point.

It's a farm -- but what farm? We're running through the possibilities in our addled brain and not coming up with much, and in the meantime . . .

. . . Dr Joe nearly got blown off his perch by a Rogue Gust. The wind here was predicted for 49km per hour today, but some of the Rogue Gusts seem closer to 400km.

Putting on every stitch of wet clothing

We'd like to find out what farm this is and, thus, where on earth we are at this point.

Another dead end; that's not going to work.

Much better. It's starting to look familiar . . . but can it be?

We'll soon find out, unless a Rogue Gust blows us into the next canton.

The chalet is called Les Combes, at 1488m, proving that for the first time we've progressed farther than we thought we had. Usually when we think we've got lost, it's because we've only got half as far as we thought we had.

Bracing for the next Gust

Just a few minutes out of the wind will mean so much to us.

Dr Joe progressing round the avalanche off the tin roof, making what halting progess he can.

Watching our colleague fighting on, we're beginning to wonder how we're going to walk the next few hours straight back into the wind.

We decide to descend a little bit to the Mollendruz crosscountry ski track that passes by just down this little combe, with the expectation of less wind lower down and a faster surface to walk on.

The bad news is that the wind is no less determined here, and down here the snow has turned to a driving sleet. Quite stingy on the face, etc.

This intrepid ski couple, and their intrepid dog, are actually heading out at this hour, with a semi-cheery bonjour. (They passed us a while later, coming back down the long ski hill and looking less cheery.)

Dr Joe has recently discovered that a Rogue Gust has blown out one of the lens of his glasses -- never saw it again, lost forever. Bad news in the horizontal sleet.

A long stretch of ski de fond track with no shelter at all

The farm of Pré de Denens

The head-on approach into the wind has not been working out so well -- we'll get into the lee of the trees and trot back up the hill.

Dr Joe is sporting wads of protective kleenex standing in for the lost lens of his glasses.

Sprinting up towards the forest

The Pré de Denens again, from the southwest

Our indefatigable leader

We're back up on our outward track, mostly out of the wind, and only a kilometre to go.

Trudging again

A winter wonderland

Our cute little Volvo (Sven) (soon to become someone else's cute little Volvo, and probably renamed)

Get the heater on.

We're depositing Dr Joe at the Col du Marchairuz to recover his own car.

Waiting about a bit as Joe gets his cute little red car fired up

But, alas, it won't start -- it tries lamely to excuse itself with an unintelligible message on the dashboard.

And then, just as inexplicably, it starts, and Dr Joe is off down the hill.

Wetter snow as we progress down the hill, and . . .

. . . it's just another rainy day as we're passing through St-George.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 17 February 2019.

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