I originally had planned to take a rest day here in Grindelwald. But then flight schedules dictated eliminating it to keep on schedule. Today I decided to put it back in. The weather turned dangerously bad, so staying over a day was prudent. In addition, my feet and legs have taken such a beating on the downhill segments that they really needed a respite.
So, you see, those of my family and friends who have been telling me that this is not a race, and that a plan is just that – a plan – I have been listening to you!
I’m planning to give it a go in the morning but will have to be flexible. There has been a bit of snow in the mountains. I was expecting to encounter a little snow at the higher passes, but it has accumulated at lower elevations as well. But, the real problem is that about 500 to 1000 feet above Grindelwald, it is completely socked in with clouds.
It can be quite dangerous to go wandering around an unfamiliar mountain with little visibility. So, I’m going to have to take it slow and be safe, even if it throws me off schedule more. Going down a mountain in these conditions, especially with snow making the rocks slippery, can be particularly dicey. Hiking by myself compounds the risk. Truth is, it’s a good way to kill yourself, which happens a fair amount in the Alps, and I’m just going to have to be as safe as I can be. Frankly, most of the people who die in these circumstances do so because they do something stupid. I don’t intend to do that. There is no reason to take undue risks. So, for those of my family reading this, don’t worry – I’m not going to push it (for a change, huh?).
We will just have to see what tomorrow brings. But, I am packing tonight to be ready to start climbing right after breakfast.
This is René and Erika and their Belgian Shepard, Vicki. Dogs in restaurants are quite common here. More restaurants (and regulating municipalities) in the US should be so enlightened. After all, they are much better behaved than a lot of customers. I’ve never seen one loud, drunk or obnoxious.
When I sat down next to them Erika started to move Vicki. I was able to say in German, that I had a dog of my own and theirs looked like a good dog, so they knew I was a dog lover. That is always a good way to get acquainted.
I told them that the US military was using Belgian Shepards as bomb detection dogs. He said that they also are being exported to the US for use as guard dogs in prison. He swears they are smarter than German Shepards.
René and Erika live in the northern part of Switzerland where he is a security guard at a high-end hotel. Nice people. Nice dog.
New Zealand soldiers have a unique way of saying farewell to a fallen comrade. Impressive.
You may have to cut and paste the link into your browser.
H/T Dudley Taylor
A funny thing happened last night after dinner. As I came out of the restaurant, having treated myself to a good glass of red wine, I saw a man on the opposite street corner. He seemed to be bathed in a red glow of some sort. He motioned me over so I walked up to him to see what he wanted. The first thing I noticed was that his skin was very reddish and gave off the red glow. The next thing that struck me was that he kept turning to face me directly so that I could not see his back or behind him. Then, as we spoke briefly, I noticed what appeared to be bumps or protrusions on the sides of his forehead.
He says to me, “You know, it’s storming in the mountains. You’re tired and have a long hard day in front of you tomorrow. Right where we’re standing is a bus stop. You could be here tomorrow and take the bus to Grindelwald. No one would know, and it would be a hell of a lot easier. Think of yourself.” He really emphasized the “hell.”
I reply, no, I set out to walk across Switzerland, not ride a bus across it.
He rejoins, “Let me help you. It will be so easy to take the bus. Think about you. No one will know.”
Maybe I dreamed that. Or, maybe the red wine was too strong. But, this morning I did not take the bus.
I’m drawing no large conclusions here, but here are some interesting things I have noticed.
1. I have seen no fat kids here. Not a one. I am sure there are some, but the percentage surely must be low compared to the US.
2. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I have not seen a McDonalds or any other fast food outlet. Again, I expect that there are some in the larger cities but not in the smaller towns that I have been through, including Grindelwald, which is very touristy. Same for Zermatt, at least when I was last there.
3. As I mentioned earlier, the signs marking the pathways are in terms of time, not distance. I have found that they are very good predictors of my arrival time. If a sign says it is 1 hour and 40 minutes to some place, I usually arrive within 5 minutes or so of that time. Now, in contrast to that, in the National Parks in the US, there often are pamphlets, guide books, or other written materials telling hikers how long a particular trail will take. I find that almost always I cover the distance in substantially less time than given in these materials. In short, the Swiss assume a much higher level of fitness in their trail markings than do we in the US.
In Grindelwald for about $80 a night I get a room with a balcony and a direct view of the Eiger. Best deal I’ve had in Switzerland. Unfortunately, clouds are obscuring most of it, including the famous north face.
A small farming community sits near the base of the Wetterhorn. You can see part of it on the right.
The sign posts give the time, not distance, to various destinations. More on that later.
As you can see, the day started off overcast. The scenery was still spectacular.