Sunday, September 10, 2017

An anticlimactic Finish...

to the Haute Route.

After the best breakfast buffet of my journey (eggs so exquisitely fried, I nearly took a photo of them for Facebook) I left my big comfortable hotel room in Grachen and headed up a lane. I wore the usual lightweight fleece shirt and shorts as I passed folks wearing jackets, wool hats and gloves. Those early raisers sort of looked at me funny. My day's destination was the Europahutte. (A mountain hut). 

The forecast was in my favor for the Europaweg. A dicey traverse along many kilometers of sketchy terrain. A route of landslides, avalanches, mudslides and don't look over the side cliff faces. A landscape which repels the intrusion of man made trails. 

My game plan was to get ahead of the main crowd going my way. I feared getting behind anxious Haute Route hikers. There would be few safe places to pass them. 

Eventually the gentle rise of the country lane gave way to another in-your-face climb. Fortunately I was highly fueled by four cafe ole's. I passed a peloton of folks I've come to recognize. I tossed out words of encouragement. Nothing wrong with handing out verbal claps on the back. I broke through the trees and the incredible big views of the Alps. This is why I came. This is why I spent big bucks and effort to be here at this moment. I shot appreciative photos. 

The uphill continued, as I wondered where does the watch-your-step part begin. I didn't have to ponder this much longer. I looked across a very exposed wide rocky gully. I squinted my eyes. Is that the trail? At this point, I'll let the photos tell the story.
First photo: somewhere out there is The Europaweg. 

The first hour of the traverse was interesting. The next few hours became physically and mentally taxing. In total, it took me six plus hours of near constant motion with few fuss breaks to get to the Hut. I was damned happy to be there. I needed a sandwich, shower and a beer and not necessarily in that order. 

Other Haute Route hikers staggered in. Some appeared shell shocked from the ordeal. Overall there was a sense of relief. We managed to get through an unforgiving make-no-mistake stretch. The wine, beer and war stories flowed.

Overnight the fickle Alps weather took a turn for the worse. Clouds, cooler temperatures and fog replaced those take a long look blue skies. Full on rain was imminent. 

After another humble bread and cheese breakfast washed down with three cups of instant coffee. I bolted for the door. I wasn't the only one. 

I chose to put a fork in my Haute Route Journey. I was done. I jounced across the World's longest pedestrian suspension bridge. It's a bouncy 1,620' long and 213' above lots of hard objects. A tumble would require more than a kiss from Mama to make the Boo-Boo feel better. I was grateful for Swiss engineering during my jog across.

 Now, this suspension bridge is a major Zermatt tourist attraction. Bevies of Weekend Warriors were making the pilgrimage to this new Bucket List destination. I noticed them as I made my way steadily downhill to the town of Randa and a train to Zermatt. 

It started raining the minute I boarded the train and hasn't stopped yet. Snow is in the forecast too. 

Somewhere out there is the Matterhorn, but I have only seen it on postcards!

I saw it today!

Final two photos: Mind your step. Landslides happen.

Chillin' in Le Petit Hotel
There's a Swiss IPA (Yay!) yodeling my name! 


  1. Looks so majestic. At that altitude do you find the air thin? No pics of the hut?

  2. Glad you found some sunshine. That trail must have curled your toes, in a few places. Take care!

  3. Glad you found some sunshine. That trail must have curled your toes, in a few places. Take care!

  4. When you wrote "landslides, avalanches, mudslides" we head "lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!" Quite relieved to read that you quickly crossed all those obstacles - longest suspension bridge, cables and fall-aways - safely. You ROCK!!!