Wednesday, July 4, 2007

More eggs, more snow and Swiss cows

Early this morning Preston set off with the Colorado scouts to visit a cheeserie (where they make cheese... duh) and chocolate factory. I took a more leisurely morning, and when the insessent rain let up I took advantage of the window of blue sky to dash for the gondola that we had seen on our hike two days ago. Aboard the gondola I met a brother and sister team who work their days jobs most of the year and fund their travel habit by leading tours to Switzerland. Apparently I'd stumbled onto an excellent trail, and I took up with them for the rest of the hike. They proved to be a font of information about the area, and solid hiking companions. The blue sky lasted long enough for a few pictures of the valley, then the clouds rolled back and began to let down snow.

Our hike took us across the girdle of the mountains that surround the Kandersteg valley and through the alpine meadows that keep swiss cows fat and happy. Late June to early July is wildflower season in the Alps, and there were flowers everywhere. As we began to descend, we heard a commotion of bells behind us. Herd after herd of enormous cows, each with a traditional bell at its neck, was being moved along the trail. We learned later from an old farmer that this is the traditional day that the cows in the low pastures are moved to the first of the high pastures. There is enough grass at the first high pasture for two weeks, after which they are moved successively to others. We dropped in at a tiny resturant (a hut really) tucked up between a small house and barn. While an old farmer cleaned out the cow stalls, his wife served us hot chocolate ("shokolade warm", with a German 'w') and the traditional rancher's dish "Rösti" (/rosch-tee/), an enormous pie-shaped mound of fresh hash browns with two fried eggs on top. This is the type of food that will get you through an alpine winter.

Cows continued to go by as we ate, and when they were finished we resumed our descent. The trail took us down the Kander gorge, where the river is seething with nearly a week of continuous rain. It was a magificent descent, with mountains, clouds and meadows-- quintessential Switzerland. Tonight is the Swiss cultural exchange, so we'll get to see leiderhosen and yodelling (how can we pass that up?)

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Please pardon various typos and the like; our internet here is expensive and unreliable.