Grindelwald to Kleine-Scheidegg

A surprisingly challenging climb.

Seeking to maximize our final weeks in Switzerland, Pam and Andy and I headed off for another overnight trip.  On Thursday we took a sequence of trains to reach Grindelwald, a delightful tourist town in the heart of the Jungfrau region, surrounded by stunning alpine peaks.  Pam and I were last here in December – a quick trip on a stunningly beautiful winter day – and I hiked into Grindelwald after the incredible Faulhorn trek last fall. Check out the gallery and read on.

A field of wildflowers below the north face of the Eiger.
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Basel-isk fountain

Another fountain imported from a distant city.

I came across this fountain in the newer section of Zürich’s downtown area, early one Sunday morning. It’s an unusual and intriguing figure – a sort of dragon-like rooster with a snake’s tail. It looked familiar; I later remembered that it is a fountain common in Basel, which I’d seen during my February visit (like this photo).

This style of fountain is common in Basel, but unique in Zurich.

For three close-up photos, start here.

Update June 29: a friend informs me this creature is more likely a cockatrice, not a basilisk, but then the pun doesn’t work quite as well ;-).

Utilitarian fountains

A variety of Zürich fountains.

Today I’m posting a collection of a variety of Zürich fountains, mostly utilitarian in nature. though each different in their own way. See them in the gallery beginning here.

A common two-spout large-pool fountain in Alt Zurich, with a simple post rather than a statue.

The photo above shows a common form for the fountain’s spouts – a lion blowing water through a tube whose end looks like a duck (or goose). The lion is a common symbol of Zürich and the duck/goose motif is common on many spouts around town.

Mettmen–Leglerhütte

A spectacular hike from Mettmen to Leglerhütte and Unter Chärf.

Sometimes when you go for a long hike into the mountains, you never want to leave and come back. Today was one of those days – no clouds, no wind, no bugs, and spectacular views in every direction. In fact, I would rank this as one of the most outstanding hikes I’ve had in Switzerland – second only to that amazing night on Faulhorn last fall. Today I was inspired by a post from another blogger to return to Mettmen in the Glarus region, a place I visited for my first hike in Switzerland last fall. What an outstanding day! read on, and be sure to check out the gallery – today was a photographer’s dream.

Chli Chärf as seen from trail from Mettmen.
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Rigi Kulm

A steep descent made for an exciting hike on Rigi.

Today was a beautiful day so Andy and I decided to do another hike. My preferred location became temporally inconvenient, late in the morning, because the necessary bus apparently does not run during lunch time. So we picked something closer – Mount Rigi. Read on and check out the photo gallery for more.

We chose an especially steep trail down from Rigi. Zugersee dominates the view.
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Alpstein summits

A cloudy climb to the highest point in the Alpstein region.

The day after Andy and I explored the northeast side of the Seealpsee valley, from Ebenalp to Äscher and up to Schäfler, then down to Seealpsee and Wasserauen, I woke early to climb the other side of the valley. We had stayed overnight at the Alpenrose hotel in Wasserauen, and my colleague drove in to join me at 6am as planned. Our goal was to climb to Rotsteinpass and then decide whether to turn left and climb Altmann, or turn right and summit Säntis. The sky was full of clouds, low enough to obscure all the peaks, but we held on to hope that it might clear later in the morning. Our luck held, with wonderful views of landscapes and wildlife, pastures and farmhouses, and some challenging terrain on this 1600m climb to the highest point in the Appenzell region. Read on, and check out the gallery – many photos have details better seen at full-resolution.

David on the Lisengrat ridge, with Altmann summit at rear.
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Ebenalp and Äscher

A spectacular hike above the Seealpsee valley.

Nearly three years ago, I was in Switzerland for just a few days and was determined to go hiking. As it turns out, early November was not such a great time to visit alpine terrain, and I spent the day wandering through a misty snowstorm, knowing there were grand views – but all were hidden in the low clouds. I enjoyed the hike, though, and it made me more determined to return. This weekend I did – including two spectacular hikes despite some lingering cloud cover. Read on, and check out the gallery; the photos on this page tell the story but don’t capture the beauty of the place or of the day.

The trail from Schäfler up the valley follows a jagged ‘knife-edge’ trail, with cable handrails and slippery footing.
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Münzplatz fountain

A pretty fountain in Münzplatz.

I found this fountain particularly cheerful, in early spring when many of the city’s trees and gardens were still brown. There is a florist on the corner of this plaza, and it may be that shop which tends to the pretty flowers and bonsai-like bush in the planter at center of this fountain. Three more photos in the gallery, starting here.

A pretty fountain in Müntzplatz, Zürich.

Rega

A nationwide rescue service.

Shortly after I arrived in Switzerland, and began to hike in the Alps, some of the colleagues introduced me to Rega, a non-profit organization that runs a nationwide rescue service. I’ve seen their helicopters fly overhead our Zürich flat, heading for the nearby hospital; zipping over the peaks of Alps as I hiked through the high country; and lifting off from the ski slopes of Zermatt with an injured skier.

photo credit: rega.ch

Anywhere, any time, you can call 1414 and they will show up, with skilled personnel and equipment for remote extraction and medical treatment. They do an astonishing 17,000 rescue missions every year, in this tiny country about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire. By donating a small sum to become a patron, I am now eligible for free rescue whenever, wherever I may need it. Hopefully I’ll never need it — instead, my donation goes to help support this service and to help others who may need it. Well worth the contribution! Watch their short video to learn more.