Every summer, P’s office holds an annual conference in Saas-Fee, and luckily for me, spouses were invited!  On Thursday afternoon, P attended some seminars while I relaxed in our room at the Dom Hotel and studied the trail map to plan the next day’s excursion.  I was a little nervous about doing my first solo hike, so I wanted to get the lay of the land.

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Bright and early the next morning, P began his day of seminars and meetings, and I began my day of hiking.  I was still a little nervous about hiking solo, so I picked a nice, flat, easy path that would take me to the next town over, Saas-Almagell.  I thought I would go, check out the town, and then come back and go window shopping, but my outing turned into a much longer, more adventuresome excursion than I thought!

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The trail from Saas-Fee to Saas-Almagell

I walked over to Saas-Almagell and saw that a sequence of two ski lifts there took people to the top of Heidbodme, a 2400 meter peak.  I thought, “Why not?  I’m here,” (a recurring thought throughout the day, as it turns out) and hopped on a lift.  I planned to take the lift to the top, snap some photos of the view, and then take it back down, but as it carried me up the mountain, I noticed several families with small children hiking below me.  When I reached the top, I snapped my photos and then thought, “Why not?  Little kids can do this,” and began my trek down the mountain.

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View from Heidbodme
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The path back to Saas-Almagell

By the end of my descent (a somewhat challenging one, as it turns out), I was a little tired, but energized from the fresh air and exercise.  I walked back to Saas-Fee, and on the way, I remembered that during my last visit, I had seen a building that was covered with carvings.  I decided I wanted a picture of it, so instead of heading back to the hotel, I walked to the opposite corner of town and snapped a photo of the carvings.  On my way back into town, I grabbed a quick sandwich, then headed to the hotel.  After a few minutes of resting my feet, I began to get antsy for more hiking (thinking, “Why not?  I’m here”), since it was a beautiful day and only early afternoon, so I headed out again.

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Wood carvings on a Saas-Fee building

I had heard that there was a glacial lake nearby in the summer months, and I wanted to check it out.  I began my ascent along the paths I saw on my trail map, but after a series of closed paths, I ended up off course.  I grew very weary (since I had already hiked hiked for about five hours that day) and I thought about just going home, but I noticed on my map that there was a little restaurant in the mountain nearby.  I gave it one last burst of effort, and made my way to Gletschergrotte, a very quaint ice cream parlor at 2000 meters.

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The view from Gletschergrotte
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Alpine sundae

Gletschergrotte was just what the doctor ordered.  I rested my legs, fueled up on an absolutely delicious ice cream sundae with fresh, local fruits, enjoyed the view, and continued my trek to the glacial lake.  After only a few minutes’ walk, I arrived at a ridge overlooking the glacial lake far below.  It was a beautiful view, but I was curious about what it was like down there.  I had two choices – I could take a path back to town, or I could take a path that led down to the lake.  I thought, “This is a little dangerous, but I’m here.  Besides, I can always turn around if I feel uncomfortable.”  So I headed down to the lake.

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A look back on part of the path down to the glacial lake

The path to the lake was NOT an easy path, and a decent portion of it provided ropes for hikers to hang onto in case they fell.  I was definitely uncomfortable and nervous sometimes, but I sallied forth until I finally reached the bottom.  There, I found a beautiful, shallow lake, with a neat little ecosystem that must exist exclusively in the warmer months.  Lots of trees, flowers, and other flora adorned the lakeside, and it was very peaceful.  I noticed that the sun was beginning to go down, and I did not want to get stuck in the woods without any sunlight, so I snapped some photos and made my way back up out of the lake area.

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I hiked across a river, up the ridge, back down the ridge, and found myself in the middle of a herd of yaks on the outskirts of town.  It was quite an adventure, and although I wish P could have enjoyed it with me, it was neat to be able to say I did it on my own.

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After my hike, I went back to the hotel, got cleaned up, and then went over to the Fletschhorn with P for another exquisite dinner.  Once again, the food and wine were perfection, the company was wonderful, and the service couldn’t have been better!

The next day was rainy and my legs were tired, so while P was in his meetings, I walked around town, window shopping and checking out the town park.  My favorite shop was Bergluft, a beautiful little store full of handmade knit items, soaps, artwork, and all sorts of other gifts.  I also found some treasures at Woodpecker, a shop owned by a local woodworker who makes all sorts of carvings.  I also stopped in the Saaser museum, a surprisingly interesting little historic house that gives people a sense of the several-hundred-year history of the Saas-Fee townspeople.

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The next day, my birthday, P was done with his meetings, so we had the whole morning to enjoy together before we had to make our way back to Zürich.  We decided to have lunch at a restaurant on Mittelallalin.  At 3900 feet, it is the world’s highest revolving restaurant and boasts beautiful views.  Our journey up to the restaurant took nearly an hour and involved two gondola rides and a funicular.  At the top, it was no longer summer, and we found ourselves in the company of skiers!  After taking in the view for a few minutes, we began to shiver so we headed inside.  Lunch was delicious and the panoramic view was spectacular.

Here’s a time lapse of our view during lunch:

There were clouds and even parasailers below us, and there were mountains as far as the eye could see.  After lunch, we checked out the Ice Pavilion, a cave carved deep into the glacier, with little rooms and alcoves showcasing various ice carvings.  Then, we headed back to the funicular to begin our long descent, and our long journey home.

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Views from Mittelallalin

Although the weekend would have been much more fun if P and I had been able to spend more time together, we still had a great time, and it provided some great adventures before I turned one year older.

 

 

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