Wednesday, November 15, 2006

September 1st, 2006 Grimentz to Zermatt

A long day today. 8 hours, 10 hours. Who knows. The plan is to hike the Augstboardpass (2894 meters) and get to Junger. Take a gondola from Jungen to St. Niklaus to Zermatt. With all the rides and such we still will be hiking for at least 7 hours. We want to get into Zermatt fairly early so we can have dinner. We magically got ourselves up before 6:30am. Me, actually, it's what a bathroom way down the hall will do for you.

We had a nice little breakfast. Granola, yes. Croissants, no. Chocolat chaud? Oui, oui. We were on the trail by 7am with two groups hot on our trail, um, tail. Remember the V? Verticle, baby, and lovin' every minute of it. Until the sun pops up-or we reach the sun, either way, and smacks me right in the eyes. And this is the direction we are traveling. Funny problem to have, actually, when you want to HAVE the sun. We stopped at a little shelf of land. Where did this come from? We let the long legged, very fast, French Swiss people pass us. Vous etes tres vite! Ha, ha. But we put our foot down at the lone Aussie passing us. Our boot down, rather. Took off our long underwear and fleeces and hit the grass.

Long day of hiking. Hoo-ya. Hour pass of zen and then we hit snow again. Can't see a trail but there are footprints. Footprints of people who couldn't see a trail either. Off trailing and rock climbing AND snow manuevering all at once. Gotta have a challenge for the last day. We work it out. Achieve Augustboard pass. We even chat a bit with the Austrialian guy when he catches up at the top. He's gonna take a quick one hour jaunt to the Schwarzhorn (3201 meters) right next to the pass. I mean, hey, if you're 2900 meters up, what's another 300, right? Shawn and I decline and descend (the big group was coming and there simply wasn't enough room on the pass). We had bought a lunch from the hotel but it was only 10am and therefore too early to eat. I had chocolate instead which must be taking place of my mocha ice blended habit.

The descent was a more of a precarious snow plodding/sliding. I'm sure there was a trail of switchbacks but it couldn't be seen. Just one straigt line of footprints all smudged from sliding. Two Germans coming up-one with Westcoast University on his t-shirt--what's that?--and he says 'watch yourself.' As in 'I can't believe you're going down this' while I almost said "wait until you get to the other side, buddy." I was annoyed, I admit it. Descending is, for me anyway, suppose to be the easy part. Fun even with snow like the Col de Torrent. This day the Alps were trying to tell me "you're done, please don't miss us. Live your life. Use what you have learned." Ok, maybe not that last part. When we finally get down to more level ground without snow or as Kev would say 'a steadier gradient.' And Kev says around this ridge you'll see a great view of the Weisshorn (the peak not the hotel) but we keep going around rocky ridge after ridge around rocky edge after edge. During this period I would look back and not see anyone. Long break? But when we FINALLY get past the last ridge the Weisshorn reveales itself in all its glory. We sit on the on the edge 2500 meters up to have our lunch (see picture). It's like we spread out the proverbial red and white checkered blanket because the three French Swiss join us and four rude Brits. It's a big land lip I think but they all sit close to us. I guess it was the best view, I'll give 'em that. The Swiss ask to borrow our map (actually they point to the map and say "s'il vous plait?"). Later Shawn says--because they mysteriously disappear down the trail--that their ghosts of hiker's past and that's why they and the Brits don't talk to one another and only we can see them.

Next posting will continue this day...


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