Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hiking Begins

I have to share with you Matt's journal entry from our first night. 

As the sun sets on my day and evening cloaks this small village tucked into the side of the sprawling swiss alps, the lights of cottages dot the landscape as stars light the sky. My body is weary but my spirit is high as the hospitality of an inn keeper welcomes us in. The sounds of laughter and chatter fill the background and flickering candles dance on tables. Curious eyes play prey to my attention as two wayward backpackers from America sneak to a table to tease our taste buds with a swiss delicacy of chocolate that makes one feel sinful for just enjoying its pleasure. We sit and speak of our journey riddled with excitement and adventure and sigh at the lack of shut eye. Anticipation for tomorrow brings sparkle to our eyes as the realization that this evening must draw to a close and our eyelids must draw shut. The chapter of today is finished and dreams of grander await. My lovely says she loves me with her eyes her lips never move. The silence is perfect for sweet conversation and as we lay down our heads the moon says good night.

 We left St. Luc the storybook heaven, now for the real hiking adventure. We left rather late (at 10a). Up the funicular by 11:20a and off we go down this country path. We thought it far too easy and big. We were in for a big day. This woman was so happy Rachelle and I had been hiking together for practice. It got me prepared for these all day hikes. Here are some stats; 36 years old, still nursing (so pumping throughout the day) and started period today, 17 pound pack on my back. shesh what else can one woman have go on with her body.
In my mind I had 9 miles stuck in as our distance to hike today. However after we had gone 9 miles and no hut I checked the itinerary. No not 9 miles but 11 miles is the goal.

 Here is our turn off point. We head left behind this cottage and up the slope through the cow pastures. There were huge cows that dotted the hillside. They all wore these amazingly huge bells that told the farmer where they were. The fencing was not well done and really not needed here.

 We had stopped her as our overlook point. Funny story; I needed to pump now and was facing the view eating lunch and pumping on the hillside and Matt was to be my lookout. You can already see where this is going huh? He starts talking about "tippy toe" this episode in Seinfeld about Jerry being the lookout and having a code word for someone is coming. He was talking and enjoying the view and I say, "Matt is anyone coming?" as he has not looked up past me in a while. With wide eyes he half looked caught in trouble and half laughed. "Yes, there are like six guys coming. I'm not kidding." Quickly I put myself together and looked like I was innocently eating lunch like Matt and enjoying the view and then the guys were past us and gone. They were the last people we saw hiking on the trail that day. So in the future Mr. "tippy toe" cannot be trusted with the lookout. :)

All the rocks up here above the tree line had this florescent lime green moss on them. Beautiful. We are very high up on the mountain ridge. Our day is just perfect. Not difficult. A little hard to breath at this altitude, but a great day.

 This is their sophisticated fencing system. Thus the bells. The first time we passed the cows at the head of the trail. I was so unsure of passing them so close, even though I knew they were female and safe. I just couldn't make myself go by them. They had these horns and were so tall. I had watched Matt walk by to give me courage and know they were fine. But my feet wouldn't move. Then this group of french ladies were walking up, they were a little timid too. I grabbed onto this ladies arm and walked with her. So funny. Matt just laughed and laughed at me. There was no request from me or words spoken. We just both chuckled. She played the role of my mother for just that brief moment.

 I walk way around these cows, they were just too big. And I'm a scaredy cat. Matt loved the novelty of it all.

 I am getting a blister already and we stop for treatment.

"We are in it now!" I kept saying this all day. I just could not believe that Matt and I were hiking in the Swiss Alps and that we were going to hike over these mountains. And that we were in the alps hiking over a mountain pass. It was crazy to me. And insanely beautiful.

As we were hiking up to these mountains I was like okay, taking it in stride and going up over. Matt told me later that in his mind we were not going to hike over those ridges but that surely the trail was to go into the v of the rock where you can't see somehow. But oh yes we went up and over.

 Here we go! We made it to the top of Meid Pass. As you can see on the sign only 3 hours and 30 minutes to hike to Turtmanhutte. It took 1 hour 30 minutes to ascend the 2,200 feet to the top of the pass. We were feeling great.

 On the descent down we heard the tinkling of sheep bells and saw some fish jump in the lake but little else. It was so peaceful and quiet. God's beauty is unparalleled.

 We see the glacier off in the distance and know that is our destination.

 It misted a little before coming over the pass but otherwise perfect weather. An overcast day that made for a little sunburn on my face. We were to get rain at the end of our day.

 The streams were cold and clear. Perfect drinking water, so we didn't have to carry much water but just fill up when we needed.

 Matt was in his element and such a good companion. We could not have been more blessed this day.

 These humongous slugs were everywhere on the trail. They were so big.

 The tail was very steep here along the tree line. This picture is looking down at the trail that did a switch back.
 I didn't take any pictures till this last turn up the trail to our hut because the last two hours of our hike were rainy. Enough to get out my poncho and then even drench my pants and run into my shoes.

11miles came and went and still no hut. I wasn't terribly worried because I knew that the pictures of the hut were near the glacier and we were headed to the glacier. I kept saying it is just around the next alcove. We came to the base of the glacier at the lake and look for the trail. In my mind the hut was on the right side but we see this building lit on the top of the cliff to the left. I jokingly say there is our hut. Well instead of lightening the mood Matt's whole body just sank. Wrong thing to say. And not many steps later that statement proved to be true. The fog was rolling in and the sunlight fading. We needed to get up that path soon. The sign said 35 minutes to the top. 45 minutes later we were at the door to the hut. 3/4 of the way there I was just so worn. My spirits had pretty high the whole day. But now I felt the burn in my muscles and remember my stats part above. I was just worn. Matt offered a snickers bar to get us through and I jumped on that. It did satisfy :) That bar and prayer and songs of praise got me up the rest of the way. I kept saying to Matt to be careful. It was getting dark and the rocks in the path seemed slippery and I was worried about Matt falling with that big pack. But God was with us and we ended our day non too soon.

Pictures of the hut and details of dinner tomorrow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Swiss Houte Route

The Swiss Houte Route is a very famous trekking trail. This would take 14 days from Mount Blanc , France to the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland. The hiking and hut trip that Matt had found is a five day hiking experience that hits the end of the Houte Route and that would hit most of the highlights and views of the swiss alps. 

 Here is part of my journal from the first night in Switzerland;
I sit in the most amazing hotel that nestles into the side of the swiss alps. I am drinking a Swiss hot chocolate handmade here in the mountains. As we walked toward our hotel the sparkle of the mountain danced in my eyes and the weary journey of the last 36 hours walking-bus rides, train rides more hiking and a sleepless airplane ride have all melted away and we are over come with the beauty of God's mountain.

Our morning views.

there were no blow driers or curling irons for this girl for the entire 9 days.

 Matt couldn't help but drink in our fairytale accommodations and lazy morning.

Original homes at the village of St. Luc
 Taking the funicular up to the beginning of our trail.