This morning it had stopped but this was the view from our hotel window. Splugen by the way lies at 1,484m.
Last night just on dusk I donned all my wet weather gear again and took Jochen out in another attempt to get him to focus on producing a big, brown, smelly heap. I even managed to find a couple of large trees under which there was no snow - look Jochen, grass! But he just looked dopey and that fervently desired event did not take place. Ok, you had better not get me up in the middle of the night because your sphincter muscles are working overtime. He hung his head and his ears.
Then....oh joy.... he POOPED! A real humdinger that made up for not having performed this task the day before.
I also discovered that it is almost as tiring to walk in the snow in trekking boots as it is in ski boots. I am afraid I stopped very often. Jochen made it look easy. I trust this means that my efforts at getting him fit is working.
You may have gathered by now that I am totally obsessed with the mountains and the snow. However, this has never blinded me to the always inherent dangers of this awesome landscape. I have a very healthy respect for the changeable and unpredictable nature of the Alps.
As much as this wonder world took my breath away, I was aware of how much care I had to take regarding tracks and distance whilst always keeping an eye on the sky and weather. One of the major problems is that the track markings are mostly obliterated by the snow and therefore it is very difficult if not impossible to stay on course.
However, as the photos show, we had the privilege of walking through some of the best scenery that nature can offer. Other than the occasional deer tracks, the snow was pristine. Mostly I allowed Jochen off lead but in this photo we had just seen some deer and he was somewhat excited. In this photo he is actually scanning the landscape for scent.
We never had any hope of reaching the Splugen Pass given the conditions but it was nice to set some sort of goal. I decided on a ridge line I could just make out through the larch forest we were walking through. But as it always is, there is another bend, and another, and ..... until we finally reached the Blachtaboda chair lift at about 1,800m. By this stage we were no longer even following the route to the pass, we were just following the road. At about this point it was 11.30 am and some clouds were coming in from behind us.
Jochen and I shared lunch and then retraced our steps. This was one of those walks where the only awful photo that can be taken would be due entirely to the photographer's incompetence. Talking of which, I noticed that some of my photos have an alarming lean to them.
Our friends in Rhaezuens felt sorry for me on Monday as it rained so much and thought that I would have a terrible time. Not possible. The rain turned to snow and turned the landscape into everybody's dream of Switzerland in winter.
All in all the walk took four hours. By the time we returned to the hotel, the roads had been pretty much cleared, the cobble stones were drying out and it was even possible to see how higher up the snow was starting to retreat under the sun's power.
Oh, and I am sure you want to know this, Jochen POOPED a second time!!!!
I wonder what 4 hours of trekking in snow that at times was knee deep amounts too? Madness and bliss, I think.
I received wonderful feedback in an email last night regarding Jochen's and my participation in the deployment exercise of now four weeks ago. Apparently it was noted that we did well, that we worked well within the equipe, that I was calm and that our equipe generally worked in harmony and cohesion and that is why we, the equipe, had such a great success.
As I said previously, this was a super equipe to be a part of. Everyone (and that of course includes the dogs) stayed cool, calm and professional. It was a perfect example of why the equipe system is so invaluable to the success of the USAR Task Force. Through our, but more specifically Alex's efforts, the SA-USAR Task Force has taken the equipe system on board. Quite simply, we search and locate in conjunction with tech search, and the task force rescues. A perfect partnership.