Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I'm woefully behind on telling you about my knitting, and I have at least three hikes that I haven't shared, but today is Halloween, one of my favorite holidays of the year, so I thought it would be fun to post some of my favorite Halloween photos. Have a wonderful, scary, spooky, ghostly and happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #25: The Last Swiss Hike

All good things must come to an end, so on Sunday, August 26, we set out on our last hike in Switzerland. Mr. D and I were joined by one of the sisters-in-law and the niece. We started out from Pontresina this time, heading toward Muottas da Schlarigna, a mountain high above the village. Before we even left Pontresina, we saw a typical Swiss morning scene—the airing of the featherbed.

Not long after seeing this, we left the village behind and started to climb, and climb and CLIMB. After about two hours, and right about lunchtime, we reached the highest point of our hike. The views were fantastic!

There were cairns everywhere, and you know how I love cairns. I even added my contribution to one of them.

After enjoying the beautiful views and eating our lunch, we set out again. Our original destination was a small lake that was at the end of a trail that branched off from the main trail, but the going got a lot slower from this point on. Due to the heavy rains of the last few nights, there were several little streams that suddenly weren't so little anymore, not to mention mud and many slippery spots. We did walk through a beautiful forest, and saw trees like this one, clinging to the mountainside.

When we finally reached the turnoff to the lake, Mr. D and I decided to stay on the main trail and head down to Bad St. Moritz, and from there walk on to St. Moritz to catch the bus back to Pontresina. The sister-in-law and the niece continued on to the lake, and they didn't get back to Pontresina for almost another three hours (but they said the lake was beautiful). Even with skipping the lake, we hiked for another hour, and after reaching the end of the trail, it took another half-hour to get to St. Moritz. Though I was tired by this time, there were still some beautiful views to enjoy in Bad St. Moritz, including this one:

It was the perfect end to my hiking adventures in Switzerland.

This may be the last of my hiking adventures, but I had many more adventures on the trip. I will share some of my favorites with you in the coming months.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #24: Public Transportation and Hiking

Our next Swiss hike was one of my favorites of the whole trip. Before I share photographs from the day, I have to tell you about how we got to the start of the hike. First, we took a bus from Pontresina to Celerina, a nearby town. Then half of our group (Mr. D, the adult nephews and niece, a nephew's girlfriend and her friend, visiting for the day from Italy) started up the mountain on foot. My mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, the seven year-old nephew and I took the cable car up to Marguns, where we started our hike. Why am I telling you about how we got to the hike? Well, thanks to a transportation pass provided by the hotel, all of the public transportation was free! In fact, every train, bus, cable car and ski lift that we took while in Pontresina was completely free. What a wonderful perk from our hotel!

Anyway, from Marguns, we planned to take a short but steep trail up to Corviglia. If all worked out as planned, both hiking groups should arrive there at about the same time. I started hiking with my mother-in-law, who, at 84, is a slow, but steady walker. My sisters-in-law and nephew paused for a few minutes at the little playground at Marguns.

The trail we took was well marked and easy to follow.

We passed by a pretty little stream running down the mountain. I've included a bit of video, so you can experience this small part of the hike with me. (That's my mother-in-law hiking above me on the trail.)


After a while, the rest of our group caught up with my mother-in-law and me. Here they all are:

The views of the mountains as well as the small details of the landscape were spectacular.

After about two hours of hiking, we reached Corviglia, and within ten minutes, the rest of our group arrived, too. From Corviglia, we took another cable car (more public transportation!) to the top of Piz Nair, where the views were, once again, spectacular. Here is my favorite scene, a life-size sculpture of a steinbock, perched at the very top of the mountain.

After we enjoyed a satisfying lunch of Bundner Gerstensuppe, a barley and bean soup, we headed back down the mountain, taking the cable car the whole way down.

A great way to end another wonderful day of hiking in the Alps!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Walks, Hikes and Wanders #23: Through the Forest to the Village

The day after our Diavolezza and glacier hikes, Mr. D and I decided to go off on our own and explore the trails between Pontresina and St. Moritz.As we walked down from the hotel to the trail, we stopped on the bridge to look at the Flaz River that runs through town. It had rained heavily the night before, so the water was flowing very swiftly.

Near the Bahnhof (train station) we turned off onto the trail, and were almost immediately confused by this directional sign.


Where was St. Moritz on this sign? We set off in what we thought was the correct direction, and after a few minutes came upon another sign that did have St. Moritz on it, so we were on our way. Below, you can see the trail as it wound through the forest. It's typical of many Swiss hiking trails, wide and relatively free of roots and rocks.

After about an hour, we came to this beautiful little lake, Lej da Staz.

In another few minutes, we came to the top of this hill, and looked out on the St. Moritzersee. Isn't this a spectacular view? The view was so spectacular, in fact, that we found an empty bench along the lake shore and stopped to eat our lunch.

It was after lunch that this hike turned into a walk, although I think almost any walking done at 6,000 feet above sea level should probably be classified as a hike. 

We wanted to get from the lake shore to the village farther up on the hill, and we looked for the quickest way. We followed some signs, which led us through a large parking garage and brought us to this:

Maybe this really isn't a hike anymore...

The village of St. Moritz is not your typical Swiss village. There were lots of upscale retail establishments; think Prada, Rolex, Chanel, etc. We were more interested in soaking in a little more Swiss atmosphere, and and we were able to find some among all the glitz. Here are some of the more typically Swiss scenes that we encountered.

The beautifully embellished building above is  Handelmann's Conditorei. A conditorei is sort of a combined restaurant and pastry shop. It just so happens that Handelmann's also has a window around the corner where they sell gelato. YUM! What a civilized way to end a Swiss hike!

P.S. I'll be back to mountain hiking in the next post.