Speaking of "off-trail", when it was decided to turn around and head back, I decided to loop around a bit further on my own, exploring the plentiful animal trails. Not too long after I lost sight of the gang, I ran into another gang: of deer. I counted 10 prancing off, down a valley and up and over a hill on the other side, but I'm sure there were some I missed. And I was also surprised to find that two had stayed behind, keeping a close eye on me as I came closer. I've never seen so many deer together at once in the wild before.
The kids had a great time with their walking sticks. With their poles they attempted to boot-ski down many hills. Istra often took the lead, blazing the trail. The temperature was nice (around 5 degrees), so nobody got cold. All was peaceful.
You can see more pictures, including some of the deer, here. And a map of our journey here.