Wendy and Rich arrived and that meant it was time to head down to Italy for some good italian food and sunshine. Our trip started in San Vincenzo, Tuscany. We stayed at Podere Santa Rosa. This lovely Tuscan house belongs to Marco, a fellow sailor friend. Nearby, there are great beaches, some Etruscan tombs and the cute Acropolis of Populonia, where you can enjoy a peaceful meal and a great sunset. The only bad news about the trip is that I forgot my SRL, so we'll have to document the trip with my phone and it's filters.
It is never too late for the sun to come out! This was our last day and by far the most spectacular. We dried out, wore shorts, made a friend, got a panoramic view of the peaks, the moon and everything around us. We took a ride on a self operated lift, took the train from St-Niklaus to Zermatt to get a view of the Matterhorn and got to sweet home at 2 am. Phew quite the day!
From Meidpass, we were supposed to go down to the valley and then back up. To help our knees a little, we took a slightly longer path through the Turtmannsee lake, which is topped by an amazing glacier. We had lunch by the lake and head up - I don't recall the pass. Dave and Michael found an amazing camping site, with a ice cold bath and a bed of fluffy flowers :).
A white sunrise was waiting for us. We got quickly moving as it was quite chilly. Our numb hands made the packing process a little painful. We moved through the frozen wanderweg around the lake, explored a bunker and made a quick descent to Leukerbad, the town of hot springs! It was a shame we didn't have time for a bath as Dave was waiting for us on another time and we were running a bit late. We took a bus, a train and a bus again and ended up in the super cute (but a bit smelly) town of St. Luc. We met with Dave, took a cable car, hiked up to Pas du Boeuf and looked for a site to camp near Meidpass. The night was rainy and quite cold. The spiced sweet chai just kept getting better.
Soon into the descent we encountered the Oeschinensee lake. A truly beautiful lake a little below the tree line and surrounded by great mountain faces. There is a cable car station at the lake and a restaurant so you may encountered tourists. I mentioned to Michael that I don't really believe I've visited a lake unless I've swam in it .... but I'm also a a tropical flower who quickly gets discouraged by glacial water. Well too late, Michael was truly determined to jump in!
The descent to Kandergsten was long, not great for my knees, but quite spectacular. The trail down I believe was man made on a vertical rocky face, and off course up to Swiss standards, i.e. rail, steps and benches.
The town wasn't particularly interesting to me. It seemed like a prefabricated vacation town without to much character, so we didn't stay to long.
The hike up to the Dubensee lake was longer than expected with some rain and emergency on-road scotch sips too keep our spirits up!
We had a quick start. The wether wasn't great and we were a little cold; all great reasons to get moving. The fog continued most of of the day, with few breaks that made us wondered where what was surrounding us.
Around Bundalp we found a farmer's house advertising Alpakase... but no one was around. We had lunch a little after, the sun peaked for a bit, which is always nice during lunch break. Then, up, up we go. In a way, the fog made us keep a great pace, giving us no time to realize how much we had left. The path got steep, narrow, lots of loose rock. Then about a million steps, but though swiss trails always have some wire to hold on to and off course some benches to enjoy the look out. The sky was clearing up, promising a great view at the top.
Hohturli pass was beautiful, surrounded with glacier. There is a very cut hut at the top, that promised ICE CREAM!!! Michael and I raised to the top... officially he won but he cheated, I was definitely faster ;).
We then descended a little, looked for a place to set camp and enjoyed a dry, sunny afternoon!
From the valley we took a cable car to Gimmerwald to start the day. Dave had to be back at work, so it would be Michael and I for the next few days.
It was a pretty foggy day. All I could really see was Michael, and only if he was nearby :). I think we were supposed to have great views of Jungfrau... oh well, we'll have to do it again!
We had a drizzle most of the day .... lunch was quick, a bit chilly and I cut way too much salami! As the inclined got harder so did the rain. Since we couldn't really judge what was ahead of us, we just kept a strong pace up, until ... wait a minute ... we are at the pass ... but we were planning on setting camp just before the pass by a lake that is no where to be seen. Now what? Are we really going back? The other side of the pass looked a little bit unknown and there are some threatening thunders... Then out of nowhere, we got three minutes of clear sky and a view of the valley below. No need to go back, the other side looked better!
We rushed down the hill, found a spot and the rain came back. There were some nice big sheltering rocks, Michael made sweet spice rooibos. We set camp, got a bit too cold, jumped into our sleeping bags and had one of those instant dry meals for dinner. It poured all night long
Day 1: At the base of the north face
We caught up with Michael on Friday night in Grinderwalt, we enjoy some dark chocolate by a river next to the campground and hoped that the new day would make the threatening clouds go away.
Saturday morning was a little slow... we had few errands to run. We cheated a little a took a mountain train from Grinderwalt up to Alpiglen. We hiked pretty much all day under the Eiger's northface. Most of the hike was pretty comfortable: A sunny day, friends and a great nap after lunch. The last part of the day got harder as the downhill to the Lautterbrunner valley was steep and pretty long. The valley was too civilized for wild camping so we had to settle for another $50 campground.
Switzerland doesn't stop surprising us. Planning alpine hikes couldn't be any easier as all hiking, biking, skying or whatever path you may be looking for is marked on the map. So if your looking for a hike around just visit http://www.wanderland.ch/en.
A rough description of our plans is explained by REI here
While camping in "the wild" (this word may not exist in the Swiss dictionary), our backpacks where carrying all the necessities to do so and our souls all the desires to find sweet spots.