Daryl & Ashee Europe 2009 travel blog

Just another day in the Alps


The offending ice-flow

We started today off a little slow, happy to have a lazy breakfast and sit and watch the rain come down over the alps. The sun popped its head through the clouds around 10am and with that, Olle recommended a “relaxed, mostly flat hike” that would take in some beautiful scenery. He said we would likely encounter some snow and on the way back down and would even be able to walk under one of the waterfalls and he felt it could be done in around 4 hours – plenty of time to get back before the predicted afternoon rain. Sounded great, so off we went.

Olle wasn't wrong about the scenery - it was magnificent. The hiking trail took us up and around yet more absolutely stunning Swiss landscape. We saw waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, thick, lush forests of conifers and even had to walk over snow and ice that was blocking some of the hiking path.

We had been hiking for about an hour when we noticed we were, more often than not, tending to be hauling ourselves up some seriously steep inclines. It was at this point, that one thing became apparently obvious to us... Never trust a Swiss man when he tells you the hike is 'relatively flat'!!! It seems so obvious to me now but clearly what rates as flat to the Swiss, is very different to what we Aussies think is flat! I'll see if I can draw a comparison... Think... Kangaroo Point cliff stair case or the steepest section of the Toowoomba range and then imagine walking up them.... for around 2.5 hours! We'd say to each other – 'we'll stop at the top of this section'... only to find there was no top... just more up!! Honestly, you could have thrown a bell around my neck and called me a mountain goat!

Of course, even though the hike was physically demanding, Olle was right about one thing – it was picture perfect! Every time we went around a corner, came into a clearing or collapsed at the 'top' of the next section, there was something completely stunning to look at. The Alps just seemed to get better and better.

And so it was we continued on our way, until we were only about 10 metres away from the final switchback and could see the ridge-line of the mountain we were hiking when we were stopped in our tracks by another ice-flow that had moved down over the walking path. We approached the ice and could see it was melting and at this point, I should point out that for the last couple of days, we had been hearing a sound like thunder, to which Olle pointed out it was ice-flows breaking off and falling down the mountain. Anyway, back to this particular ice-flow - we couldn't tell how thick it was or quite exactly where the walking path was under it but we could see that it was forming a sort of cave underneath it and there was a mud-slide coming from under it, that was maybe 40 metres long. The ice itself wasn't that big – I stepped onto it but got a bit concerned as I could see it was not entirely 'attached' to the land and also felt it would be slippery in parts, so now having managed to scare the s**t out of myself, I decided to get off! Given we could see how close we were to the top, we then thought we might climb up and around it but the grass was also slippery and it was starting to rain, so in the end, we decided against it. Neither of us was keen on riding an ice-berg down a 40metre mud-slide that would no doubt propel us back down the rest of the mountain we just walked up! (OK, now take a deep breath and sit down now Mum... I'm ok!)

We told Olle of our 'so close, yet so far' experience when we got back – he laughed and said it would have been fine! I was disappointed but hey, we're not exactly experienced mountain hikers, so we figured it better safe than sorry!

We had dinner at a local Pension in Gimmelwald, where the only items on the menu were soup or scrambled eggs! We opted for the latter and glad we did – the best scrambled eggs we've ever had and probably the best meal we'd had so far in Europe! The eggs had spinach, onion, tomato and feta in them and came with some sort of cucumber salad!

Home to pack for our trip to Bellagio, Italy.

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