Monday, July 21, 2008

Part 1 - Hiking Adventure: Graechen to Seetalhorn (4.1 hours)

View of Matterhorn from the Seetalhorn in Graechen, Switzerland

I woke up at 5:30 am on Sunday. Yes, on a Sunday. I know.... I know... that alone is nuts, but let me explain how the rest of the day went down and then you'll know that I'm completely nuts.

Wait, scratch that. The day was planned by Jace and his work colleagues. THEY are the crazy ones. I was just along for the ride. Little did I know it would be a 6 hour car ride (there and back), four hours up a mountain, and 23.4 minutes spent asking the universe to spare me a painful death by falling down a rock face. Ok, let me explain.

My hiking man.

Jace loves to hike. Even on our honeymoon we took a little hike, 30 minutes up a wee hill, 20 back, with a couples massage upon our return as incentive enough for me. So living in Switzerland now, I understand that this is the perfect opportunity for Jace to take up hiking more seriously. Hence, we got Jace some hiking gear for his birthday on Saturday and a day of hiking was planned.

Church in Graechen, Switzerland

We drove from Zurich via Bern to Graechen, a beautiful town in central Switzerland, very close to Zermatt actually. At one point, we had to take this train under the mountains via tunnel, because going around was not an option, and we actually DROVE ONTO A TRAIN, an open covered wagon type of train that would take us under the mountain.

In the car, on the train... crazy right?

I have never experienced this before and it was truly cool to be in a car, on a train, in the dark, riding through a tunnel under the Alps for 20 minutes, with no fresh air, with the soothing sounds of snoring as background music... strange that. ;)

All the cars on the "car train" as I called it.
Truly an experience though and I got to do it twice that day!

We were in a bit of a hurry seeing as though the last cable car down the mountain was at 5 pm and we were running behind, so Kurt, the driver and leader on this adventure, made haste, hugging the mountainous curves at what felt like 128 km/hr. I think I did well though considering I only screamed "You are going to KILL US!" just once. . . well, just once while in the car. ;) The mountain might have gotten the best of me at one stage. Allow me to skip ahead.

Graechen to Seetalhorn, our destination...
Yes, 3 hours and 45 minutes to the top... Lord help me.

We started the hike around 10:15 am, and most of us expected a leisurely stroll to the top, something more akin to Uetliberg. So off we went, the hiking brigade, but little did we know that this was going to be a challenging hike for us newbies and that this would be the last time we would see Ingo... don't worry! He is still alive! It was just the last time we saw him on the hike as we got separated early on.

The hiking boys: Kurt, Ingo and Jace

Shortly after this photo was taken, the nice, gentle sloping, broad path quickly changed into a steep beast, and Ingo needed to go at a slightly slower gallop than the leader and seasoned hiker, Kurt, was accustomed to. So with the promise that we would wait somewhere along the route (although we never could get Kurt to slow down! .. sorry Ingo...) we went ahead, up to the Seetalhorn.
The path for the first hour or so was comfortable, smooth, and broad. I really enjoyed it and every step was a pleasure with the gorgeous views unfurling around us through the pine forest.

Another shot of the Matterhorn from Graechen, peeking out between the trees

After the first hour or so, the landscape changed dramatically into boulders and rockslide cliffs. Needless to say, I was not so impressed by this landscape. In fact, I would say I was a bit scared. Like this.

Scared Jessica.

As I tell most people, I am not really afraid of heights so much as I am more so afraid of falling from a great one. There were a couple of moments where the 2 foot wide path next to a seemingly bottomless cliff gave me the shivers, and somehow I fell behind.

The only good thing about falling behind was that I was able to get a few great shots of the cute hikers in the distance... oh, that might just be Jace out there! ;)

Yes, that is Jace!

But shortly after this photo, and around the middle of the hike, the territory changed to ALL rocks. And suddenly I got REALLY scared. Actually, let me show you how I felt.

Jessica REALLY scared.

I was seriously freaking out - although I was doing a very good job of keeping it contained, not only because I was falling behind and had nobody besides my trusty swarm of flies to complain to but also because I could not focus on much more than the two feet in front of me and my own two feet let alone my more flight than fight mentality.

Speaking of which, amidst the fear, it was exactly at this point in the hike that strangely my feet became the topic of the day. Continued tomorrow...

Continued tomorrow...


bc said...

i can't believe you got up that early.

nice photos...hey, did you get a new camera? ;)

Bluefish said...

I like hiking too and the trip sure looks amazing. Denmark's flat so no hiking for me:(

MattFM said...

Great post! Looking forward to Part Two.

m'dame jo said...

You hiked in those shoes?

Jessica said...

m'dame jo > Yes, I know... I know.. I can't believe I hiked in those shoes either. I thought it would be a paved path, like Uetliberg... oh how I was sooo wrong. I have learned my lesson...

Make sure you read part 2 tomorrow for more details. :)

bc> Yes, I got a Sony Cybershot. See the post all about my new camera from last week!

Thanks for the great comments everyone!

bc said...

Oh, I know about the new camera!

Look at me, setting you up for some awesome linkbacks to previous posts!

I play to win, baby, and I bring all my friends with me ;)

Jessica said...


I have to admit, I think that the photos are just as good as the Canon... no matter what camera I use I still edit the crap out of them. At the moment I am just using Picasa to make the babies shine.

What do you think? Photo improvement or same old, same old?


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