First – I know I did not post yesterday but I have an excellent excuse. I was somewhere so damn high up that it snowed(!) and when you’re staying in a hostel/hut/auberge that remote, the chances of internet are pretty much nil.
And so – let me begin at the beginning: I left Engelberg at a fairly decent hour – about 8 I would say. My destination was across the Jochpass and then down slightly to Englisalp. Pretty straightforward. The guide book had warned that this might be the least interesting day’s hike. Well yes. But mainly because it was so socked in and drizzly that I honestly couldn’t see a thing for most of the hike: a few things I did manage to see:
Yeah – your livestock shot of the day. But that was about it. The hike up was about 1300 metres and steep – so steep that there was a ladder/stair against the cliff face at one point. My right foot pretty much absorbed most of my thoughts and energy. The pain was getting worse and worse.
At any rate I kept climbing and finally this monster building loomed up out of the fog – but not until I was almost on top of it. And then I could not for the life of me find the next trail sign. I mean, how could I? I couldn’t see anything!
I wandered around the big building and then started going up the hill, thinking that must be the direction of the path – maybe I would stumble on the trail. And then I heard voices just below me! Yay! I hurried in that direction and came upon a party of 4; asked them if they had any idea where the trail to Jochpass was.
“Well,” they said. You’re there!
Oh. I thought it would be much harder and that I’d still have a ways to go. Okay – so good news. But now, now do I get to Englisalp? The nice people pulled out maps and directed my through the fog until I found the trail sign. Yay! After that it was a walk in the park and there I was in this high mountain enclave.
First order of the day – find the showers and then – surgery. It was either fix the foot or – hell, I had no idea what the alternative was. So I stabbed the blood blisters and mopped up. The relief was almost instant. The pressure from the fluid buildup had been the big pain. I wrapped up the toes and figured that would sort things out, at least for a while.
I lolled around most of the afternoon – and napped. As usually, horseshoes all the way because I got to the lodge 10 minutes before it really began to pour.
At any rate, I woke up the next morning to find the snow line had moved down to about 100 metres of the lodge. What I didn’t think about was the fact that I had several hundred (about 1000?) metres elevation to gain.
All that really mattered was that it wasn’t raining and the forecast was pretty good. That said, it was cold as heck – frost on the ground as I set out at about 7.30.
The guide had 2 alternate routes for this day: the lower bad weather valley route and the high (very high) ridge traverse called the Planplatten. The guidebook also mentioned that the Planplatten was one of the big highlights of the route. Spectacular and so on – 3 or 4 hours of airy (!) ridge hiking with views so good, they warned you’d better have your camera battery charged.
Hell, of course I headed up the ridge. Fingers crossed the weather would hold for me. And oh boy, snow. Yup, hiking through snow. But beautiful? Crazy gorgeous! Glad I had my camera battery fully charged!
And that’s just a tiny sampling of the gazillion photos I took. Yes, the weather held, although the odd time I was in a cloud and that was just a tiny bit spooky on an exposed ridge. It’s funny, the stuff that scares you. And because I don’t have someone here to support me, I sometimes have to dig to find that place of, “Just go – you’ve got this!”
I also have to say that the surgery the night before proved a wonderful success. It still hurt but more an aching throb that I could live with rather than a sharp stabbing screaming hurt. Such a relief!
Today also marked the first day I fell – twice. Once on the very slippery snow and once on a cow patty (!) I have to say right here and now that I am royally done with cows. I mean they’re lovely and all but hell, there was one spot on the down trail today where they had churned it up so badly it was almost impossible to walk. I am done with the muck! Please note pic:
And, as luck would have it, I found someone at the top of the pass to take a photo of me!
And now the down: 1700 metres of down. But what a trip! For the next two hours “my” mountains were right in my eyes: the Wetterhorn and just behind it! The Eiger – also a clear view of Grose Sheidegge, tomorrow’s big pass. I had lunch with the Wetterhorn and Eiger right in front of me. I felt like I was worshipping them.
And then I headed down and down – but I had a plan. You see the last 400 metres promised to be a slog through the woods. The answer? A gondola of course! Yes, not ashamed to say I cheated and wiped out 1 hour of tedious walking. Yay!
It gave me a bit of time to quickly wander the village, which is very cute by the way and buy some chocolate. But I’m still waiting to snag the really good stuff. Grindelwald tomorrow! They have a Laderach store! Finally!
However, I should also note that the very first thing I did when I got into my room is email Simon. I thought he might be worrying about my lack of communication. I know that in similar circumstances I would have been beside myself.
One of the pleasures of hiking alone, with no one to talk to but myself (scary thought, huh?) I do spend a lot of time thinking about Simon and I love that the thoughts are all loving and full of gratitude.
And I leave you now with one last photo – the very, very old church in Meiringen: