That is life in the high country. Yesterday we had a perfect day with clear blue skies, sunshine and pristine snow. Today, the sky and the mood is sombre.
Even though it is still very cold, the snow is visibly retreating and I imagine that in another day or so it will have disappeared altogether except in the higher reaches of the mountains.
As this trip to Splugen is one of the last concentrated periods of time Jochen and I will have to get the final fitness in prior to the test, today required another trip up into the mountains.
Given my caution in regard to weather in the Alps, I checked with the locals on which would be the best walk to do today that would be relatively 'safe' given the weather, the walk to the Safieberg was recommended as being on the sun side. It is also the opposite side to yesterday's walk.
However, I was given the once over - what sort of hiking boots do I have? Are they solid, serious hiking boots? Am I aware that there will still be snow up there? Am I aware that it will take at least 3 1/2 hours just to get there? This local looked me over with a rather doubtful look on his face.
Today, the mood is brooding, sombre and restrained, not menacing but serious. This made the landscape more stark, imposing and mighty.
I met an elderly hunter who was looking through his binoculars for Alpine Ibex. He looked me up and down as well when I told him where I wanted to head. He so obviously took in my gear in one glance - Goretex jacket, serious gaiters and hiking boots, a good back pack, gloves and headband. I seemed to pass muster.
He told me that it might rain, that I would definitely get into snow, and he looked much relieved when I said that I was not fixated on reaching the Safieberg and would go as far as seemed reasonable and then turn around again.
Jochen and I had made our way through the twisting alleys and lanes of the old part of Splugen, followed the narrow, winding track up the mountain and eventually reached an internal road that lead us to the Stutzalp.
The road became a track (although the contours of the road were still visible) and it was comforting to note that someone had been there before us. We went up, and up, and up....with the mountains become more and more stark, sombre and brooding because that is what the sky looked like. I kept and eye on it but took courage (or is that madness?) in both hands and pressed on. We are here to get fit, damn it!
Madness made way for common sense and so this became our lunch spot. Funny, once I made that decision, the sun beamed benevolently on the two of us briefly. At least, that is my view of the matter.
One frustration I have felt since being in Switzerland is the lack of opportunity to find a playing field where I can let him off-lead and have some simple fun. There are 60,000km of walking trails in Switzerland and very few ovals.
As the grazing animals have been brought down from their alpine grazing fields, the place is now empty and the electric fences have been removed. This meant that I could throw his orange 'grenade' and give him some fun exercise. And did he love that. He bounded through the snow, pushed his face into that wonderful white stuff to find his grenade and then joyfully bringing it back. He almost could not get enough of that game. He acted as if he had been born in the snow. We kept up this game until we reached the road again where it was too risky to throw his toy - not because of any traffic, there was not any, but because of the black ice and icy snow patches on the road.
Another photo with a lean to it.
Today we were on the road for nearly 4 hours, not as long as I would have liked it to be, but it was really not safe to continue. But..... it was super and the way Jochen is moving, I feel confident that the fitness program is working well for him.