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Avalanche

August 18, 2008

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Gimmelwald, Schweiz (Switzerland)

dscn2314I woke up to the most amazing view today, right from my bed here at Esther’s Guest House in Gimmelwald.  I mean, I opened my eyes and there it was.

I had breakfast with the British family; Mom and Dad and two young girls.  They are on a three week holiday in France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland and have one more week to go before heading home.

I spent some time catching up on my writing and checking emails and such and got a late start today.  But that’s OK, that’s the beauty of this trip.  I just decided I’d stay another night anyway.

dscn2312I hiked to Mürren from Gimmelwald, the sign said it’s a 50 minute hike; that’s for people that hike.  For me, a little longer.  It was a constant upgrade with several switchbacks, but I made it in an hour and 15, with frequent stops.  If someone else came along, I greeted them and just pretended like I was taking pictures or some such thing and when they passed I returned to hanging over the railing, breathing heavy and wiping the sweat from my face.  The hike was fantastic though with breath taking views of the Eiger and its neighbors.  Blue skies and no clouds.

dscn2325Along the way, I noticed the locals cutting the grass for mulch and hay and raking it all up the old-fashioned way and all on very steep hills.  I do love that smell of freshly cut grass.  That’s what they will feed the cows when they come down from the high meadows in the fall.  And of course, the cows produce milk from which the locals make cheese.  Gimmelwald hangs on to its old ways, which doesn’t bring in much money so they depend on the tourist dollar as well.  Years ago, the locals had the area declared an avalanche zone, falsely, but it kept the developers out.  The town only has about 100 residents and next door to Esther’s is the school house.  They have one teacher and kids of all ages attend the same classes.

dscn2370-copyI stopped to admire the summer flowers that are on their last leg, listened to the crickets and played host to a couple of grasshoppers that figured I was going their way.  There were a lot of butterflies out as well, very difficult to get them on film but I got a couple.  The grass was so green and thick I just wanted to take my shoes and socks off and waller around in it.  Of course, there’s probably a lot of cow poop in that grass and I would have reacted and yelled “EYEW” and then fallen off the Alp.  So I refrained.  See, I’m always thinking ahead.

dscn2379-copyMost everyone was hiking down; I wonder what they know that I don’t, other than it’s easier than hiking up.  The pictures don’t do it justice and I just don’t have the words to impart the sheer magnitude of how much and how far I could see and how big the expanse is between the peaks.  You just have to experience for yourself.   Paragliders were launching themselves from Mürren into that expanse; they looked so tiny.

dscn2390I was pretty beat when I got to the top and found a bench and had a rest.  I then walked through Mürren for a while, it’s considerably bigger than Gimmelwald; they have a grocery store and a bank even.  So, I got some more Swiss Franks and some groceries for picnic lunches and for cooking meals at the guest house (we have our own kitchen).  Mürren didn’t have their town declared an avalanche zone like Gimmelwald, so the developers came in and it’s mostly hotels and tourist shops selling trinkets.  Just as I was heading for the cable car back to Gimmelwald, I got to talking to an American couple walking along that are Rick Steves fans.  They had just come from the top, the Schilthorn, and the view was great they said.  We had also just heard that the weather tomorrow may not be so great, so I got a ticket to the top and off I went with my pack on my back and two bags of groceries in my arms.  I got some quizzical looks, I’m sure everyone was wondering why I was taking groceries up there.  Oh well.

dscn2392Well, they were right, the view was great and not much wind to speak of.  It was much more enjoyable than that last summit I went to, what seems like months ago, I can’t even think where that was.   I got my fill and headed back down, it took an hour and three different cable cars.  This cable car system they have here is pretty neat.  It’s their public transport for locals and supplies as well as tourists.

I got back to the guest house and unloaded my groceries and made myself a big salad with lots of veggies followed by a plate of spaghetti.  New arrivals David and Mandy and David and Nicole were up and about.  David and Mandy are on their honeymoon.

I had a seat on the front porch to start writing and I’m just watching the occasional tourists walk by, and looking at the peaks, that are just right here in front of me.  This view is crazy.  Two of the couples staying here, David and Mandy both from Victoria, BC and Chris from London and Laniny from Western Australia and I stayed up late together sharing bottles of wine and hearing about each other’s backgrounds and interests and goals, etc.  It was a nice time.  Turns out only one of us is currently employed, the rest of us having all quit our jobs to travel.  And the one that is employed is quitting next month.  Crazy.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jan - posted at 2008/08/22 13:57:21 Universal permalink
    August 22, 2008 1:57 pm

    Your camera takes such nice shots. That’s funny, the picture of the crazy people…..At least the weather seams decent for you, not too hot.

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