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07 September 2009

Heidi Calling

written by: Don

A weekend of hiking in the Swiss Alps brought us to the limit of our unfit bodies but rewarded us with some absolutely stunning panoramic views.

As the tale from late 19th century goes, Heidi, a orphaned girl from a city, moves to her seclusive and harsh grandfather (Alp-Öhi) in the Swiss Alps. There, she befriends young Peter the goat-herd (Geißenpeter) and eventually also softens her grumpy grandfathers heart.

So far so good.

Fast forward in time, 2009. Meli and Lutz, recently married, invited us to join them for a hiking weekend in the very part of the Alps where Heidi is supposedly hiding. It didn't take us very long to make up our minds, and we answered their call promptly. How could we resist the temptation of a "leisure hike for city slickers" through the idyllic Alpine mountains?

So we flew in to Zurich on a Friday night and had a most wonderful dinner in the Restaurant Seerose, by the Zurich Sea, spent the night at the Ibis Hotel in a bed so wide we said 'See you tomorrow' to each other before falling asleep, then met up with everyone the next day and drove all the way to Brülisau, a little village in the heart of Appenzell. There, we were confronted with a choice: take the cabin up to the top (Hoher Kasten) then walk along the ridge (Lutz says: 2.5 hours max), to the hut by the Fälensee - or to hike all the way up as well (Lutz says: 2 hours). Sound quite reasonable, everybody thought, so we all voted for hiking all the way... ah well, we forgot the infamous Lutz-factor!

So off we go. More than two hours and about 800m altitude difference later, we stood atop the Hoher Kasten summit, and we thought: 'great! the climb is over, on with the leisure hike along the ridge!' We obviously didn't know that we still had more than 2/3 of the way to go and that this will be a constant variation between 20% climb and -20% decent. By the time we arrived at the hut about 4.5 hours later, the last of the light of day was fading behind the silhouette of the Alpine summits, and we were just in time for some excellent Rösti! We spent the night there and had a (this time really) leisure hike around the Glacial Fälensee the next morning, before returning to Brülisau through the valley.

I dare say that I have never speeded up a mountain like that before, but it was worth it! The breathtaking views of the beautiful glacial seas, Sämtisersee and Fälensee, was more than rewarding for all the effort, along with the utter silence that we experienced in the valley, far away from the hectic life in London, or the relaxing chimes of the cowbells in the distance...

Oh, and as far as Heidi is concerned, we found her in her old age in a hut by the shore of Fälensee, selling cheese and milk...



Amelia wrote on 10 September 2009:

Beautiful scenery. I like the water tap, how cute.

The story is well told, write more, I can't wait to read another one written by you.

Congratulations to your friends Meli and Lutz. Happy Wedding!

Matthieu Dederichs likes this blog post.

(Posted on 06 October 2009)

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