Das Schwarzhorn – Hiking in Davos, Switzerland, Pt. 2

Luckily, the mountains are ancient and when we’re long gone they will still continue to be. And that, dear readers, is my philosophical lame excuse as to why more than half a year has passed since our mouther-daughter hiking trip. A giant leap for mankind but a significant fraction of a second for the Alps! After our somewhat casual hike to warm up – read up here – our second tour brought us much closer to the sky. After an early Birchermusli breakfast (and some strawberries, milk and cornflakes for the holiday spa feeling), we packed our backpacks, put on our sturdy Meindl hiking boots and set off – to the bus stop! It is crucial, upon a trip to a Swiss village, to take at least once the famous Postbus; little buses that asker you safely through the serpentines up to a better starting altitude. And unlike the Italians, you neither feel like throwing up nor see your life threatened because the Swiss drive as accurately as a Swiss clock. While they still indeed bring mail up the mountains, the post busses have become quite characteristic and have accomodated to hikers’ and bikers’ and skiers’ needs. Our Postbus takes as from Davos Dorf up to Flüela Ospiz and XYZ HöMe. The weather is cloudy with a 50-50 chance of getting wet or sunny – we’re living on the edge 😎 [as you noticed, I switched to historical present, to add some live action drama feels ** which I forgot halfway through as there was a long gap between starting and finishing this and honestly, right now I’m too lazy to change that]!

On a steep rocky path, we ascend quickly and leave the road behind. Whenever we look ahead, the impressive mountain range looks back down to us and I keep asking my Mum in proper impatient kid’s voice “Which one is ours? Which one is ours?”, eying the one that looks like straight out of a trigonometry textbook.

The one right in the middle, in perfect triangular shape, that’s the one I was hoping for – in vain.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t that one. Our designated summit was further on the right from the photo above, hidden behind the hiking signs. But you can see the long-stretched flank leading us up to the famous Schwarzhorn. A telling name. After the first altitude boost, our path leads us through the valley, we pass trickling waterfalls and screes, the sun is as decisive as a cat as to whether to come out or not, the air is refreshingly cold and our spirits are high. In steep serpentines on vast stone fields we ascend the ridge between two summits (the middle one, s. above). The higher we get, the more snow patches. And needless to say, I gallop towards and into the first one, shouting SNOOOOOW!!!, taking selfies, leaving prints.

Pants are for losers! Celebrate the shorts!!
(I’m freezing merely seeing this and I know for a fact I did not back then)

On the ridge

It might look like a straight line uphill but looks can deceive. The snow is slippery, a nasty wind hauls and for the first time, I debate putting on long pants. Eventually, I would. A lot of “Gruezi” to the descending hikers make it difficult to catch our breaths and each plateau looks like its gotta be the last one for sure – until we reach it, and realize there’s yet another level coming. However, each plateau offers a chance to look back and allows us to see the ascend we’ve made. How tiny and significant the once so impressive mountain range looks like from high above!

On Top of the World

At least in this very confined space and Alpine area. Baby, it’s cold up there but here we are – above 3.000hm and a 360 degree panoramic view. I wish you could have seen it. It was magnificent. Thanks to modern technology I got a text message welcoming me to Italy and, more importantly, I was able to take this video for you, my dear fans and followers, and had to take off my gloves doing so, lost all feeling in my fingers, so appreciate my sacrifice and be jealous.

On top of the world aka Schwarzhorn. With a thick cloud layer pressing down on us.

Funnily enough, on the summit your phone welcomes you to Italy so apparently, we travelled further than we though. Since the temperatures got nastier by the minute, we said our ciao, bella cima, ciao, ciao, ciao and started our descent. Our path took as along the previously mentioned mountain range that, back down from garden gnome perspective, grew back to its overwhelming size and massiveness. Along our hike, we passed through vast gravel fields

along crystal clear mountain lakes

we traversed quarries on nearly invisible paths and confirm once more that what might look like a short distance from above, can easily be a 4-hour-struggle. After literal ups and downs we arrived on the real ridge and started our proper descent back into the valley. Dark clouds hovered above us, strong cold winds teared at us and we were very keen on getting down. Warning! Now if you ever find yourself up there, at this very ridge, and turn to the right to follow the marks, be aware that there is a shortcut that requires climbing skills but is not labelled as such. Unlike in medieval German folk tales, don’t take the right path but the one on the left leading down. Otherwise, you either have to turn around eventually or break a leg. Literally. Hals- und Beinbruch, everyone!

Our descent would have been nothing but lovely, green pastures and slopes, and an extraordinary panorama – which it still was

– if it hadn’t been for the weather turning quite nasty, windy, rainy, cold and too uncomfortable for our liking. In the end, we just hurried along; had to stop here and there because my Mum’s hiking boots fell apart, and my cold fingers had to sos – save our soles – by tying them to the shoes with anything that remotely resembled a rope. MacGyver would have been proud. Note: 1.) Saving soles is much easier than saving souls. 2.) It is a lot easier to prevent shoes from falling apart than me. 3.) That went off-topic fast. Sorry about that.

A hot Swiss chocolate awaited us at the Berghütte, wo wir einkehrten, a word, that encompasses the whole experience of being on any sort of outdoor excursion by foot or bike or whatnot and visiting a chalet or inn upon sight, because it looks cosy and promises (ful)filling food for fatigue folks. It’s that little Schlenker you make on your way down, that little detour for the leibliche Wohl. Einkehren, for the literal translators amongst you, does not mean the same as turning (yourself) in. Einkehren means Gemütlichkeit, means a well deserved rest for your sore muscles , and an increased appetite from the fresh and pure alpine air. If you’ve ever had a Rivella or an Ovolmaltine made with fresh cow milk above 1,500m altitude, you know what I’m talking about. Funny how none of these expressions have an English equivalent. At least none that sounds as cosy. Think Boxing Day cosy. But in the outdoors.

Sandro and Selänä, the mountain hut pigs at where we einkehrten.

Davos am Schönsten ist – Hiking in Davos, Switzerland, Pt. 1

(For the non-German speaking readers: the first headline is a very bad Dad joke. Kalauer, Kalauer, as we like to say. You should not be surprised)

My mum and I went on a holiday together. Just the two us. Six days in a hotel in Davos, Switzerland, with half-board and plenty of mountains to conquer! German Summer 2021 has been basically non-existent while other countries were suffering from heatwaves – f*ck climate change, so for our September holiday higher up in altitude we packed lots of rain gear, wind gear, bad weather gear, warm undies, woollen leggings and whatnot to be prepared for the worst. and got the best: 4 1/2 days of solid sunshine, the occasional mountain weather phenomenon and just one rainy afternoon. We couldn’t have been luckier.

I hereby invite you to tag along and let me be your mountain guide through the Graubündner Alpenwelt. Maybe you will find inspiration for your next active holiday or maybe you will get infected with the Gipfelfieber and my love for mountaineering.

“Because it’s there.”
– the most famous three words in mountaineering, by George Mallory upon climbing Mt. Everest

TOUR #1 – Davos Dorf – Weissfluhjoch – Weissfluhgipfel – Parsennhütte – Davos Dorf

Disclaimer: We didn’t check the exact distance or altitude nor the time but to give you an idea, I can tell you what my smart watch told me at the end of the day // Distance: 22.3km // Altitude: ↗️324 ↘️1.300 // Duration: 6h including railway and generous rests

After a lush breakfast at Hotel Bünda, we packed our backlogs and headed towards Parsennbahn, the Parsen red railway funicular to lift us from 3,609ft to Weissfluhjoch at 8,835ft with a change of carriage to chair lift halfway through. We stepped into bright sunshine and despite the fresh breeze, our jackets would not be needed anymore that day. From Weissfluhjoch, lazy tourist take another cable car to the top whereas my mum and I climbed the steep rocky path to Weissfluh summit at 9,327ft. It’s a 45 min hike and sure-footedness a must but no mountaneering experience required. Due to all the tourists and buildings up there, we felt robbed from that particular feeling of reaching that highest point on your route, when you’ve beaten nature and get that endorphine shock of summiting. It felt sort of unsatisfying or, as the Germans say, the Belohnungsfaktor blieb aus. Nonetheless the view was spectacular. We ambled about half an hour along the platoon and peeked down into the valley and along the horizon before our descend. Instead of taking the more popular route towards Strela pass we descended upon the other side – through vast stone deserts.

Parsen is a famous skiing resort – and that took its toll on the landscape. Ski slopes in summer are one of the most depressing signs of human arrogance above nature.

Hobby geologist sure get their money’s worth – the stones, rocks, boulders are quite unique. They come in all sorts of colours and often, one side of a stone is in a totally different colour than the other!! My backpack was much heavier at the end of that section and I have quite a collection now. Shortly before we arrived at Parsennhütte, we entered a scenery of lush meadows and pastures and had a lovely lunch break before taking the panoramic route along the mountain flank. Our final descent towards Davos was interrupted by an extended blueberry picking break, the first of many. I mentioned it before (here): my mum has incredible blueberry instincts. If there are any, she’ll find them, no doubt about it. She’s a truffle pig but for blueberries (maybe a bit more civilized) and any hike will inevitably contain an episode of berry picking whenever it is the season.

The last section of our first hike went straight down in very steep and narrow serpentines. The midday sun was burning hot and we were glad some part of the way lay in the shadowy forest. Since it’s the little things, and I tend to have an eye for them, I found a picture book toadstool and we admired it adequately. ➡️

The rest of the day was dedicated to sun bathing on the hotel’s terrace and becoming more and more impatient for dinner, followed by a private sauna session and early bedtime – for tomorrow, the first REAL alpine hike would take place.

Grueziwohl, my friends!

The Idea

I have never seen Into the Wild and I have never seen Wild – somehow I feel the need to make that absolutely clear, maybe because both movies caused a wave of new hikers on their self-finding paths, and especially the latter resulted in female hiker numbers rocketing through the sky.  I’m not saying that mine is not a self-finding trip, at least up to some degree it certainly is, but I wasn’t suddenly inspired to do this because an actress looked pretty and went on this wholesome cleanse in nature (again: I haven’t seen the movie but it is Hollywood so that’s what I assume it’s gonna be like. My apologies if I’m wrong. Don‘t @me). I did read Hape Kerkeling’s Ich bin dann mal weg, a personal account of hiking the Way of St. James. (though the German Jakobsweg sounds better. More humble. More fitting to the dusty, sweaty struggle). However, that trail doesn’t appeal to me as much. Not because of its religious purpose, I’m all up for that. Or don’t care. But I am a mountain goat and love the Dolomites, probably even more than the Alps, and it’s high up there on 10,000ft elevation where I find my inner peace. Every year, my Mum (70 years of age and she can still do it, and I’m damn proud of her) and I go on a 2-day-hiking trip in the high mountains. It’s our mother-daughter-time and especially regarding our somewhat problematic relationship. We’re getting better and I must admit, 2020 has been a good year in terms of us. Physical distancing brought us closer together emotionally and I am so glad, I just shed a few tears writing that down – but even before, that annual excursion has always been a perfect combination of spending time together, both of us being in our – I believe it’s fair to say – natural habitat, and since hiking is more of a solo-activity anyway, it was often accompanied by a silence, the good kind of silence, where you share more by not talking and we weren’t force to speak about things we both felt uncomfortable speaking about. When we were little, my Mum would take us with her on all her mountain adventures. My brother often opted out (he did go running with her, back when I hated running, so each of us had their mum-sport so to speak) but my Mum and I both hiked and hiked and hiked and took in the scenery, deeply inhaled the fresh air, relished in the physical strains. On our latest tour up to the Chli Windgälle I was already thinking about a multi-day solo-hike somewhere and so I asked her about her most memorable hiking experience. She didn’t even have to think about it. Her immediate response was: The High Sierra. Yosemite Valley. Mount Whitney. The John-Muir-Trail. Conveniently, that had already been on my To-Do-List, and even more so since Free Solo (which I have seen and I urge you to go see it, and I promise, you’ll be in awe). And so, an idea was born, and a more concrete or rather rock-solid plan formed, and soon, preparations began.

The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go.

This is a new section on the blog! For a big, big endeavour. And also a big, big maybe. Due to the current events aka Covid, it is absolutely uncertain if I will be even allowed to travel and do what I’ve been planning for months now. But hope is (second) last to die and what’s the point giving up on a dream now because it might not come true when the outcome is beyond your control? Every day, I allow myself a solid fifteen minutes to worry about it, same with all the other potential and real catastrophes going on. The rest of the time, I pretend it’s gonna happen because what else can I do? So as we stand, let’s pretend! Fake it till you make it has always been my motto.

In August 2020, I will hike the John-Muir-Trail.

213 miles, and an elevation change of 47,000 feet, approximately.

Three weeks. All by myself.

And here, I will keep you updated, write about my experiences, and let you virtually come along on my journey. Not in a live feed, because I’ll be off the grid, but there will be a lot about me preparing and to provide you some background information, followed by a post-trail shortened diary (short: PTSD. Oh, wait, that’s already taken.).

The mountains are calling and I must go. – John Muir

So keep looking here for one of the greatest solo adventures I’ve ever tackled!

Run, even if there’s rain, dear

We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves, the more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom”

Sir Roger Bannister

Even for newbies on the blog it should be a well-known fact that running is an important part of my life (you can find my first post about running here). I‘m on an average of 4 runs a week, with a distance ranging between 10-19k, the standard being 11 or 12k. I‘m an all-weather runner. I love long Dreisam sessions in the sun where I most definitely will pull up my shirt and go crop top, see my wibbly-wobbly mozzarella ball of a belly bouncing up and down, get embarrassed, let the crop top flop, until it gets too hot so I scould myself for body-shaming myself and the top gets cropped again.

Captured that moment when I exposed my blazing white belly to the sun on a run for the first time after a long, dark winter.

In winter, on the other hand, when the temperature drops towards or even below freezing, I wear nothing but running leggings and a T-shirt (yes, you sissies, no long-sleeve) and gloves (because no matter what, my fingers will go numb. That’s the only part of my body that seems to be affected by the cold and behaves as it befits a lady). Sometimes, I get lucky and it starts snowing while I’m out there and the snowflakes dance around me while I run and it all becomes an early morning whirlwind of snow. Magical. I love to feel the coldness on my arms, I love to see my breath and I love the fresh and cold air and I love to come back home and enjoy the hottest shower ever, lobster style, and boil myself back to room temperature till my skin’s all red and my bathroom a hot and steamy Turkish bath.

And then there‘s rain.

Wenn man nur lang genug in den Regen sieht, ohne einen Gedanken im Kopf, spürt man, wie der Körper sich löst, wie er die Realität abschüttelt. Regen besitzt eine hypnotische Wirkung.
Haruki Murakami, Gefährliche Geliebte

It costs quite an effort to get motivated when its already pouring. I usually find myself procrastinating, fiddling around, checking Instagram, there might be something new, you know? So I unnecessarily delay what I will eventually do anyway: go out and go for that run. I guess it would be much more convenient if I wore rain gear. But I don’t. Don’t like them. They’re itchy and no matter how active and permeable they pretend to be, they are not and make me sweat in the stinky way. They increase my body temperature and I am already someone who’s never cold but always hot so hard pass. Ergo it is the same range of clothing as for every other run (although for heavy rain I wear my old pair of running shoes in order to not ruin my shiny new ones yet. Only reason I still hold on to them. Soon, they’ll be dumped for good and the now shiny and new ones will become the old ones and replaced by shinier and newer ones. It’s the circle of a runner’s footwear life. Nants ingonyama ♪♫). Dressed and ready and having picked the right playlist, the moment of stepping outside gets delayed further more by another safety pee, just in case, another insta check, just in case, and then I’m out of excuses, I leave the flat, jog down the stairs, leave the house and the shelter of our roofed patio and step into this inconvenient, wet world. I’m like 90% sure Susannah Clarke saw me on one of these occasions when she wrote

She wore a gown the colour of storms, shadows and rain and a necklace of broken promises and regrets.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

With that mood settled, I run off and it’s ew for 2 minutes and then I don’t mind anymore. Oh, isn’t it the sweetest pain in the world, when it rains these hard, aggressive, needle-point like raindrops that prickle your skin and you suddenly feel so, so alive? Especially when you’re indeed nothing but broken promises and regrets. It will lift your spirits. Also, people can’t see your tears if you go for a cry run, which I do a lot. Echt. (Which reminds me of another of those distracting side stories you’re all probably very annoyed with but they give you sneak peaks into my past or present life, so yay, and hey, you may always just skip the parenthesis, that’s what they’re here for after all: I use to have a huge crush on Kim Frank. And one day, he went back from blonde dye to his natural hair colour because he didn’t want his fans to like him just for how cute he looked as a blonde. Well, turns out I did so this was the end of my Echt-fan phase. Yes, I’m that shallow. (guess I wasn’t a real fan, cause real = echt, for non-German speakers (woah, lots of bracketswithinbrackets. Inceptional! And I‘m gonna close them all now, adding an old-fashioned smiley to add yet another closing bracket and you managed to read through all of this, you have probably forgotten where we were so maybe we continue with our main plot, shouldn’t we? Ready? Here we go: :)))))

We have been out running for a while now. We are thoroughly soaked, our shoes squeak from the water we’re treading (I call it the Kneipp-effect of rain-runs). We come back home feeling alive and refreshed.

And that’s how you get back from a rain run. Notice the drop on the tip of my nose where Echt would be wondering if it was the rain or if I cried  ♪♫
Spoiler: it‘s both.

And if we’re lucky, we get to stay inside, make a Chai Latte in our favourite mug to hug and warm up with, and watch the rain pelt against the windows, as if it tried to get in and aggressively so because it knows it isn’t welcome and we can feel saved and sheltered from the demons within and without and protected from and by the pale curtain of rain estranging us from the world and vice versa.