Photo Friday: Via Alpina 1: Mels to Braunwald
When last seen, our report of the summer's adventures had us hiking and lazing in Saas Fee, Switzerland. On July 19, we upped stakes and headed to Mels to be ready to hike on the 20th. There we were joined by Bob and Diane, bringing our party to 5.
The night in Mels was far from ideal. The town is attractive enough, but just about everything was closed--happily, the grocery was open, so we were able to buy the needful for a picnic dinner--and it was hot. Really hot, and a little humid, making us all too aware that Europe isn't big on air conditioning.
We had hoped to do some exploring, perhaps visit Sargans Castle--an easy walk from our hotel--but the intense heat and sunshine scotched that idea. We spent the afternoon trying not to move too much as the thermometer climbed into the high 90s (mid-30s C). Inside my room.
The hotel-keeper was really nice, and took away the warm comforters and left us with sheets instead, but it wasn't a night even to use a sheet. My altimeter showed that it was 82º F when I got up at six a.m. Our very kind hotel keeper also saw to it that we got breakfast early--I think at 6:30--so that we could start hiking as early as possible.
VA Day 1: Mels to Weisstannen
|Looking back over Mels and Sargans--the Sargans castle is visible on a hilltop in the left of the photo. |
The climb began right away, as did the sweating. We stopped at one of the ubiquitous open fountains on the upper edge of town and wet hats, heads, and whatever else seemed like it might help.
|Diane, Bob, and Tom taking advantage of the fountain.|
|By 9 a.m., we'd been hiking for nearly two hours, and had reached the open higher part of our track.|
|An occasional waterfall offered a moment's respite from sun and heat.|
|"Village" might be a better descriptor for Weisstannen, but they had a very nice-looking church, though no source of groceries.|
Actually, there was one source of at least some kinds of food: the first vending machine I ever saw that sold locally-made cheese, jams, and other artisanal products.
|The classic Swiss look, with geraniums in the window boxes. |
Day 1 Stats: 6.8 miles, 2135' up, 550' down. A good day for knees :)
VA Day 2: Weisstannen to Braunwald
|Ready to start, we think.|
I had kind of hoped we might climb above the fog and clouds, but no such luck--we merely climbed right into them. Craggy canyon walls next to us suggested scenic possibilities that will, alas, remain forever in someone else's photos.
|The author--wet, and overheated, climbing out of the valley toward the promise of a pass.|
|Carol and Diane take it on faith that there's a pass, and that we've found the right trail.|
The misty day had its own special beauty as well, and we enjoyed having the trail nearly to ourselves, encountering only one other group going our way, and none the other way. There were, of course, cows.
|Carol and the author at the pass, commemorating the view.|
Reaching the pass just after noon pretty well destroyed hopes of either getting above the clouds or having them burn off. It was breezy there, so we dropped a little below to eat lunch. The sun flirted with the idea of shining through the clouds, but ultimately decided against such profligate behavior.
|Descending to Elm|
|Amazingly, we were able to buy a ticket when we boarded the bus that covered bus, train, and funicular.|
|Tasty, but I'd have been happier to have eaten it about an hour sooner.|
The rooms were comfortable, if not large, and the hotel provided a generous fruit basket in each room, from which we were able to fill some of our desire for more fruits and veggies in our diets. Once I chased a cricket outside, I enjoyed a peaceful night, well-earned.