Good and serene afternoon to you – gentle Ladies and Men and dear friends. Hope this finds you well –
am typing to you from my newly created outdoor office (photos further below) – and it is almost tea-time, but I at least wanted to start on an overdue Dispatch about a hiking day still in Safiental, GR (canton Graubunden) – just the other day –
(and btw – today I found a dangerously good pastry-shop, 15 min walk from here. Ladies (you know who you are) if you ever want to avoid excellent pastries of the finest caliber – don’t ever come to switzerland!
It started all rather innocent –
even before I came to this valley, I’ve heard about the so called Glass Pass — for many centuries the only passage way into the valley (Splugen was further to the south and not well passable during winter, and it was on higher altitude) – and the road into Safiental from the north was only created 1885, and the first motorized bus ventured into that valley in the mid 1950’s. Until then it was strictly the original horsepower method … or, well… on foot.
And it was across that Glass Pass that the mountain farmers brought their cattle to the town of Thusis for the market place/fair in the fall. The local Walser farmer were/are famous for their well breed cattle…
even brought it all the way south to Lugano — how they accomplished that will have my ever puzzled respect.
So …. I was curious to see that particular path .. as I was curious to see through what kind of terrain one can could bring up cattle through the mountains.
Little did I know ….
as I said – it all started rather innocently.
Initially I had wanted to go on the day of the eclipse… that did not work out so well … so I decided to go on tuesday, the day before I was scheduled to leave, onwards to my next residence on lower elevations in central switzerland for about one month…
I took the postauto bus (the Yellow Class) to Safien Platz, 30 min ride, and I had some water with me, some food, one protein/energy bar, some dried meat (local), pieces of apple … and off I went. – at the foot of the climb, at a bridge crossing the Ribausa (spelling?) I had some warm lunch which i brought along. First things first, right?!
This is the shot from where i set out … this shows the opposing valley side – am at approx 1280meters.
When initially enquired with locals about that pass, they assured me:
“Easy peasy … you can easily do it. Not to worry at all. “ And one postauto bus driver said: “Yes, it’s easy, just the first ½ hour it is really very, very steep” – ah — ok, i morally and emotionally prepared for that … and only that. But what instead transpired was entirely different.
do see below:
It bloody felt like the path into MODOR … I kid you not.
Do you recall the scene when Frodo, Sammye and the Gollum chap climbed up almost vertical that steep hill into Modor (and later encountered that ghastly spider woman?) — that’s what it felt like. except I had no companions…. and no lambas bread either. Eventually I thought I even had Ent sightings… who seemed to be walking with me…
nice try… appreciated the effort!
up and up and up and up and up it went. (can you spot the railing higher up? (only about 25% or less of the path had a railing – otherwise, it was ‘free fall for all’.)
and the point of this photo below, ladies and gents, is: please do note: it’s that high and steep – I can practically spit onto those tall trees from above!
what was I thinking?
apparently not much ….
And I trust that you do spot that railing far below as well, also glued to the mountain side, so it seems. I was so grateful that I had my hiking poles with me. the very same that walked with me on the camino in 2014 (though there I never encountered anything that steep or high up)
at the start of the climb – if one can call it that – I encountered a couple who came down from that pass without any hiking/trekking poles. they were not exactly talkative -I can imagine why – too busy noticing their legs feeling like jell-O on steroids. All wobbly.
how they did climb down without any walking stick aids shall remain a mystery….to me at least. maybe to them as well.
haven’t encountered any Orcs yet … but then again, was still day-light…
And up and up and up and up and up it went …
Needless to say, by that time I had it finally figured out: more locals were having fun with an unsuspecting tourist….all that ‘easy peasy’ stuff was utter nonsense.
Complete.nonsense.100%.fake-news if there ever was one. either that or I am one of the most out-of shape creature this side of St.Louis.
And I also realised of course the extend of my naivite’ and innocence (lesser kind people would just call it stupidity) … it is as follows: the sentence:
“yes, it’s easy, just the first ½ hour it is really very very steep” – i had for reasons unknown to me, translated with:
“yes, it’s easy, just the first ½ hour it is really very very steep … and then it will let up and then it will be easier..”
ah … the folly — oh, the ignorance …
I realized my mistake — after the first ½ hours of the climb it went from: ‘Really very very steep’ to just plain ‘Very steep’.
The “improvement” was minor of course, since it still just went up and up and up and up…. and I started wondering if I got stuck in some vertical ‘groundhog day’ … because it just kept going up. sometimes I paused every 20 meters, sometimes less, sometimes more. yet, I was still upright, breathing, coherent…and moving along.
well folks … that’s what’s called a MOUNTAIN pass, right? Holland does not have mountain passes … and I can see why …
which animal is chasing up cattle up that slope?
good grief …
needless to say, did not encounter anyone else until almost at top. and cattle nowadays fetches a ride with motorized vehicles. Very sensible, that cattle.
of course, it was terribly beautiful … truly amazing … STUNNING . and I was actually happy that I dared venturing out that way. the air fragrant of grass and herbs. sounds of gushing water from somewhere. warm sunlight… and just as an aside … I noticed that I was nearing the tree-line area. getting so high up that no trees would grow above that line.
of course, just the week prior I had accomplished a similar stunt, but then I had started already at 1,750meters or so. and I might have had an increase of 250+ meters in 2 hours … and of course was above the treeline already then… but this current harebrained endeavour took me more than 500+ meters of elevation change in less than 2hrs. (walking time was probably 1.5 hrs, but of course I paused. plenty.)
folks of the non-harebrained variety find out that kind stuff before they set out …
(well, I AM practicing. Am still on me training-wheels)
Those guys up there are 3,000 meters … pushing 10,000 feet that is, I believe…
until I got to the actually Glass Pass … I perhaps traversed about 20 meters total of horizontal path. everything else was UP.
at one point I came across a woman who descended. quite elderly . no hiking poles . she said : ’pretty steep’ – to which I responded kindly “it’s going to be getting worse” …
to which she said, probably not hearing me … ‘in my legs and knees all is wobbly and shaking’ … to which I thought: this is just the beginning of the descend … oh my. – I advised of plenty of rest … and drinking water… – she probably not hearing me. wonder what happened to her.
But that encounter also made me wonder where I would end up?! What would happen to me?!
I was already scanning the horizon for a hut/hay stall I could overnight in case I don’t make it down back to the valley floor.
…for a moment, envisioned myself stuck on the pass …
the last postauto bus would leave safien platz 5:50pm’ish … would i make it? should I be making it?
as I said… all reallyyyy pretty though.
still could not believe it that it appeared that I was going to make it up to the pass without passing out and become crow-feed in the process .
eventually I saw other humans …. grandpa and grandkid … and some motoric device I did not properly identify initially. turned out it was a something with a rope, winding up that steep hill the freshly cut grass. amazing sight. some really sturdy tribe of people having survived here for so long .
what can I say – I obviously made it to the pass … and what does one see?
that’s a trick-question:
more mountains of course!!
and they even had a li’l hotel/restaurant up there. Piz Beverin Restaurant or some such.
and what’s a girl to do?
Rest – Sit on terrace – have some homemade cake with whipped cream! …
and a Rivella (some fuzzy swiss drink with a very unique flavour that is impossible to describe)
so while I took in this view …I pondered my fate:
should I overnight here?
should I descent back to safien platz?
what if that would be so intense that I won’t be able to walk anymore tomorrow?
well – Postauto bus to the rescue!!
Thrice a day a yellow bus comes up here to Glass Pass (from the other side of course) – and the last bus of the day would depart in about 90 minutes.
first I had to research my various pockets to find if I still had enough cash (I did) – and then I decided, before I’d risk being utterly decimated tomorrow due to jell-O legs or worse, that I would take the postauto bus and the train and another train and another postauto bus again …and be back in Tenna almost 3 hrs later.
did not care. Fine by me.
That’s me at the postauto bus stop – with apparently a halo – even if in reverse. have no idea how this effect came about. but there you have it…
perhaps a celestial or atmospheric “reward” for having made it up there??
and on the way back – between postauto bus switches in Versam Post — was one hour to wait. did not care. stopped in a ‘gasthaus’ (guest house/restaurant’) called Roessli (something to do w/ horses… might have been an old ‘switch out the horses please’ stop)…. and had dinner. and a so-so white wine…
view at the evening stop before heading to Tenna
then back in Tenna I stopped by the tiny local church … literally to give thanks for being still in one piece, breathing and upright and walking … and giving thanks for my amazing time in this remote valley and village. Church was build in 14th hundred something.. pre-reformation.
about 7pm’ish …as i walked into my last night in tenna…
and some drama shot from the thereabouts area where I walked … eh, climbed&steeped&stumbled that day… and lived to tell the tale.
And this is where I am now … Central Switzerland, 30 min busride from Luzern/Lucerne (15 km distance) 500meters elevation. Folks actually have a summer here – with the appropriate summer temps.
it’s a nice li’l middle-ground arrangement. Am on a farm (the bells of sheep chime near by … aka 15 meters or less) – am viewing mountains, see the green, hear some traffice (but don’t see traffice) – am closer to a city, but not in a city, nor suburbs.
cows are somewhere near by as well … and of course barns. it’s pretty …. what can i tell ya …?!
his is the view right in front of me – really like this pear-tree … appears like a leaf-ed angel, spreading its wings…
and if I stand next to that tree, i can see the Zuger See (lake Zug)
had in 4.5 weeks in switzerland more thunderstorms than in 26 yrs in california… this current one is rather mellow. some from some weeks ago had a marvelous intense khavooomm
hope you found time to read through this dispatch … and if ever you feel that you are nearing a mountain-foto OD state, please do let me know….
ah – forgot to mention – pilgrimed via several busses and trains to EINSIEDELN … THE pilgrimage Abbey in Switzerland with the famous Black Madonna –
just about 90 minutes from here. Had no idea how close it was…