Bad Weather Hiking – Switzerland

Posted on January 24, 2016. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |

Our first hiking day.  The trip had been planned for months.  The mountain vDSC08750iews had been dreamed about.  That feeling of being so small next to those behemoths.  And that air.  Oh, the big breaths of mountain air in the sunshine.  I couldn’t wait.

Ha!  It had been a wonderful summer AND fall, they told us.  Weeks and weeks of perfect weather, they said.  And now.  This.  Pea soup fog and rain.  No views.  So sorry.


In the guidebook, that scene above has a backdrop of jaw-dropping mountains.  Not for us today, though.  We have to settle for the charming old stone barn on the grassy slope.

Getting to the col or pass was disappointing too…


We could barely see right in front of us.  It does bring focus to the sharp terrain at the top of this col, though, forget about looking out on any vast expanse.



So, we decided to makeDSC08773 the best of it.  It could be snowing and a lot colder we told ourselves.  This is the mountains.  It’s unpredictable and it can change really quickly.  Or not.   Maybe we need to change.  Plans.

We did 2 days of this before cutting our losses and zooming off to Zermatt by train and bus.  After arriving there the sun came out and we did day hikes in fabulous weather for the rest of the trip.  Sometimes you just have to be flexible!





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Is the Cablecar Cheating?

Posted on January 11, 2016. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |


Uh, the answer to that would be, “NO!”  Let’s not forget we are on vacation!  Perhaps a 6-8 hour hike in the mountains (read:  either all up or all down) is enough exercise?

We found the cablecars (téléphérique in French and seilbahn in German) in Switzerland to be fast, efficient, and a lot of fun.  We used them from our base of Zermatt to get up into the mountains to begin our day hikes.  We also planned to use them on the Haute Route whenever we could, but nearly missed the one into Zinal. 


This is because the trail passes a cable car that closes at 4:15 and we had just missed it.  (Maybe there was some crying and stomping of feet.)  But then we found out 45 minutes later that first cable car station was for an entirely different town!  We just made the 5:00 last car down the mountain after a very difficult, wet, cold hiking day.  Our eyes bulged out watching the trail below the cable car.  It took about 20 minutes to descend on the cable!  We estimated an additional 2-3 hours if we had had to walk that path.

We couldn’t believe it when we were suddenly done with the day and off to find our hotel.  Ah…that sweet feeling of completing the hiking day.  Body buzzing…thanks to God for the help!



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La Sage to Cabane de Moiry

Posted on November 29, 2015. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |


This was a crazy day!  We hiked from La Sage, Switzerland to the Cabane de Moiry.  It was a total of 8.12 miles in very difficult altitude and elevation gains and losses.  One of the hardest days of the Haute Route, we jumped right in and made this our first day.  Not so smart in retrospect.  We were not adequately adapted to the altitude yet which made it more difficult physically and added to the estimated hiking time.  A 6.5 hour trip took us 8 hours.  To make things worse there were no views almost all day.  We were in some of the most beautiful mountains in the world and we couldn’t see a thing.

By the time we got to the Cabane we were wet, cold, and exhausted.  It was wonderful to come into the dining room, though, which was warm and welcoming and flooded with light from the huge windows.  Mind you, no views of the extraordinary glacier right outside were available with all the fog, but we were going to be more comfortable soon, at least.


We got checked in and got our own room even though the room could hold 4 people.  We bought our shower tokens (about $5 for a 5 minute shower.)  Got settled and then headed back to the dining room for dinner.  It was so good!  Lentil stew, lasagna, salad, dessert.  Really, really satisfying.  But just as we were starting to enjoy that physical buzz you get after a tough day, it began to snow.  Very soon 6 inches were evidently piled up.

Bill and I both lost sleep that night worrying about our descent in the morning.  The rocks at the end right before the cabane were tricky without snow, I was wondering how we would manage with 6 inches covering everything.  We decided, though, we would just figure it out and in the worst case we could turn around and stay another night.

By morning, though, the snow was melting and very slushy.  We worked with our poles and managed the rocks fairly easily.  Those rocks, fresh in the morning, after some rest, were a lot easier than tackling them in ascent at the end of the long day before.

We even got some stunning views of the mountain, glacier and barrage in the morning with some sun poking out.  It didn’t last long, but at least we got to see it!



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Mountain Hiking – Big Small Contrasts

Posted on November 26, 2013. Filed under: Photography, Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Swiss GrasshopperThis large green grasshopper greeted me along my way hiking in Switzerland.  I’m sure he was congratulating me on completing a very hard ascent and descent of the Fenêtre d’Arpette of the Tour du Mont Blanc.  I had to stop and admire his gorgeous green with black accenting.  He actually had big expressive eyes for a bug!

Travel - Swiss Fenetre

One of the things I love about hiking in the alps is the wonderful contrasts of enormity and the diminutive.  I am a slow hiker partly because I am overwhelmed by the environment and I cannot rush through it.  A hike here is not just a good workout in nice surroundings to me, but rather a chance to really step outside of normal life and lose myself in a place.

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A Cork Tree?

Posted on November 23, 2013. Filed under: Plants, Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , |

Travel - Cork Tree 1 Travel - Cork Tree 2

One of the surprising and fabulous plantings of the Promenade Fleuri in Montreux, Switzerland along Lake Geneva.  I have never seen a cork tree before!  I was amazed by all the tropical plants growing here.  Maybe there is a micro-climate around the lake?

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Cow Friendship

Posted on September 27, 2013. Filed under: Poetry, Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Poetry - Cows

I think of you and your needs,

We are connected.

When you hurt my heart bleeds,

I want you protected.

Simple pleasures to share,

A back scratch, a listen,

Bothering to care,

A friendship in cultivation.

You lighten my load,

You brighten my day,

We walk life’s road,

I love you, I say!

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Montreux, Switzerland

Posted on September 26, 2013. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , |

Travel - Montreux 4Montreux, Switzerland is a sweet town on the northern shore of Lake Geneva.  We took a stroll along its promenade dotted with fabulous plantings, sculpture, and repurposed objects used in landscaping.

Travel - Montreux 1

It was a beautiful day and many people came out to enjoy the atmosphere.

Travel - Montreux 3 Unfortunately, I had just arrived in Europe, and it was really the last thing I wanted to do.  Usually when I get to Europe the first thing I do is take just a little nap.  This helps me to readjust my body clock.  Because I didn’t plan this trip, much was out of my control.  Lesson learned!

Travel - Montreux 2

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Tour du Mont Blanc – Fenetre d’Arpette at Last!

Posted on September 20, 2013. Filed under: Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB Fenetre 4

We went back this year to the Tour du Mont Blanc and hiked a piece of it we missed last year.  Bill had a sore knee and this variant of the route warned of joint-crushing boulder climbing so we took the easier, though no less scenic, Bovine Route.  This year, feeling better, we went up to the Fenetre from the pretty little town of Champex Lac and then back down to the town.

Travel - TMB Fenetre 1

Here is the view of where we were going.  The little dip in the skyline right above the road is the Fenetre.  Doesn’t look so far, huh?

Travel - TMB Fenetre 2

I think this was probably the hardest way to do this because the route on the other side looks less rocky from the pictures I’ve seen, but we had a great place to stay in Champex which made for a nice thing to look forward to after the hard hike.  We also had a car which made it more difficult to do through hiking this time.  As you can see this is a very rocky path, and this is after the harder part of nothing but boulders.  If it weren’t for my trekking poles I could never have done this!

Travel - TMB Fenetre 3

At the top, though, there is quite a payoff with an amazing view of the Trient glacier, and the world’s tallest dammed lake.  I was amazed that it wasn’t very windy.  Every other Col I had been to had been brutally windy, but it was calm and sunny this day.  Really, we had perfect weather, lucky for September.Travel - TMB Fenetre 5The gourmet meal at the lovely Hotel Alpina at the end of the day really hit the spot!

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Tour du Mont Blanc and Swiss Preparedness

Posted on September 16, 2013. Filed under: Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB Swiss Woodpile

It was impressive to walk through a little bit of alpine Switzerland and witness the amazing preparedness of these people.  Can you believe this woodpile?  After this picture I went around the back to use it for cover and, surprise!  There is another pile exactly like this right behind this one!  I was impressed with many woodpiles like this one that we walked past.

Travel - TMB Swiss Chard      Travel - TMB Swiss Preparedness

In addition, the gardens were beautiful!  Look at that chard!  I wonder if it’s still called Swiss Chard when growing right here in Swiss soil?

Travel - TMB Swiss BouldersIt’s beautiful in September, but the people around here must know brutal winter is coming.  The mountains have thrown down boulders the size of houses so they know.  Many of these boulders are big enough to climb all by themselves.  We ran across a climber who told us he was starting with boulder-climbing to get ready for sheer rock wall climbing.

All-in-all I was pretty amazed by Switzerland and these hardy mountain dwellers!

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Tour du Mont Blanc – Mountains and Lakes

Posted on August 13, 2013. Filed under: France, Italy, Photography, Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB Mountain Beauty

I was surprised at how few lakes we did see on our hiking adventure of the Tour du Mont Blanc.  There seemed to be water everywhere with streams running with lots of water many times requiring us to hike right through them.  But lakes, there were not as many as you’d think.

This particular morning, though, the trail went right along this beauty.  The air was so still that the surface of the water made for the most perfect reflection of the crystalline clear ultramarine sky.  Wow.  Here we have mountains, snow, sky and water more perfect in the reflection so I moved the land line up to showcase it.

This is one time the word awesome is an actual good description!

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