My Life as a Traveler

The Hills are Alive… with the sound of… Susie and Julie!

Thought I’d offer a little variety today. Susie is filling in as guest blogger on the mountain. Enjoy.

Happy Mother’s Day! Our last day in Gimmelwald.

We awoke to surprising sunshine! The tip-tops of the snow-capped peaks outside our window were visible for the first time since we arrived.  Walter (85) served breakfast: kaffee, juice, bread with jam & butter, & 2 chunks of Swiss cheese to all 9 of his guests. Then Julie & I gathered knapsacks for hiking.  We planned to hike up to Murren (@ 45 minutes), exchange some $ at the Tourist Office, and get on the Funicular Train.  It would take us up steeply to the next peak, and we could spend 2 hrs walking down….

However, we couldn’t find anything open on a Sunday morning in the off-season.  So we perused our hiking map and decided to try our luck with the Flower Trail. We ascended steeply out of Murren on a path through the spruce forest. It was very taxing on our cardio systems, but the spruce/larch hillside was sprinkled with blue Hepatica, lavender Soldanella, and yellow & purple violets. After almost an hour of this steep climb, the forest opened onto a rolling field covered in white and purple crocus!  A ski lift was operating in the distance, culminating on the snowy peak above us. We took a small break to change the camera battery, sip some water, and gaze at the gorgeous crocuses.  We had reached the snow line with our hefty climb and could look directly across at the high peaks across the chasm.

As we continued on the “Flower Trail”, we left the crocus fields and began another ascent through deep snow. Rather uncomfortable in tennis shoes!  After another hour, my right knee rebelled and decided not to bend anymore.  We aborted the ‘peak’ Julie had aimed for and began our slippery descent.  Luckily, we were moving slowly along the icy route when we came upon a gorgeous Chamois.  He was dark brown with a striking light-brown face, curved antlers and a butt like an elk. Beautiful!

After yet another hour, we made our way down into Murren, found the $ Exchange machine, and headed toward our village of Gimmelwald.  Being rather tired and hungry, we found a restaurant open and decided to sit on the veranda overlooking the valley.  Paragliders were taking off from the hillside across the road, leaping into the air thousands of feet above the valley floor. We chose to share ‘Roesti’, another traditional Swiss dish made of ham, potatoes, cheese, and pears baked & served in a ceramic skillet. Yum! Cold beer washed it down as rain sprinkled on us.  Julie still had some urge to follow more trails, so I chose to return via the roadway alone. It was a fortunate choice, because I could walk without having to bend my knee very much AND I saw another Chamois!

I spent the intervening ½ hour before Julie’s arrival back to our room searching the ID of birds and wildflowers on the internet. Now that it’s approaching dinner time, we’ve been privileged to watch the speedy ‘rush hour’  sheep parade for the final time. A young couple from the village sits their two young daughters in front of the little barn across the street, gets a bucket of food, and heads up the street to a fenced pasture.  They corral 30 sheep & goats and lead them down here to the barn…running at breakneck speed with the wife in front with the bucket and the husband cheering the herd from the rear.  Several adult animals have bells around their necks, so the cheerful, swift parade has music.  Once the animals are securely closed in the barn, the couple heads back up to the pasture for the second herd. We get to see a repeat performance!  I’ll miss the morning and evening show tomorrow.

Sadly, we say Auf Wiedersehen to this precious village tomorrow after breakfast…hiking to the cable car, hopping on the bus, and finally boarding the train – er, make that 6 trains, to the Italian part of Switzerland. Luckily, it will be a day of mostly sitting, so we can recover from today’s ‘stroll in the Alps.

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