We left Quenza very early, passed through the Col de Bavella at sunrise in direction of the city of Corte.
We took advantage of the good weather forecast to do another hike today. We were recommended a hike near Corte in the Restonica valley.
The road to get there, you know it, was narrow and was going up for 14km until a parking area.
From there, the trail is very rocky as this used to be a glacier valley. The trail later split in 2; a trail on each side of the spring. On left side, the trail followed the side of the mountain while on the right side, there are a set of staircase and chains to help pass the steepest sections up to Melo Lake.
This lake is located at 1711m high in altitude and is frozen 5 to 6 months per years.
We continued our hike to a second lake located much higher. That one is frozen 8 months per years.
I would not swim in it! The fog came down from the mountain, it was time to go down.
There were 2 sections where a chain was installed to help hikers. Tina succeeded without tears but without a smile. 😉
Excellent hike with totally different scenery compared to the others hikes we did in Corsica.
We then headed to our AirBnB in Ste Lucia de Mercurio; a very small village located about 14km from corte, high in the mountain.
We got there, there was nobody home. There was a little box with a numeric combination hiding a key. We were not given any code… We were about to call the phone number provided by the owner when another couple arrived. They also rented a room in the same house; they arrived the day before and already had the key to get inside. Good timing, we could get to our room without issue. The couple was German and really nice and funny.Unfortunately, no time to practise my German…
We later cook diner together and found out we did the same hike, same day as them.
We had breakfast and left for a day hike along the north shore of Corsica, near St-Florent. We got good tips from our AirBnB host to reach a secret parking 3km west of St-Florent beaches. As expected, the road was in bad shape but we managed not to break or scratch the car.
We followed the shore in direction of the Lodo beach. The first section is mostly flat but never in straight line. The view is amazing. We had to remove our shoes to cross a 50cm deep river to continue on the trail. We finally stopped 2km before the prestigious Lodo beach (likely full of tourist) to instead opt for a smaller one that made us think about the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. There are no roads to get there, the only way is through that 16km hike in total.
Next objective was to reach Ile Rousse, located on the other side of the mountains (Desert des Agriates). Trying to follow the locals behing the wheel of a Citroen C3 Diesel, I was feeling like in a Go-Kart. A Fiat 500 in front, an Audi behind me. Stay focus; it’s super narrow and there is always a Cliff or a bridge after each curve.
We woke up in Muerren and had breakfast at the hotel. We went for a short hike around and above the village. After lunch, I rented a climbing harness to do the Via Ferrara from Murren to Grindelwald. It offered very nice views and was not to technical and difficult, provided that you are not afraid of heights…Tina decided not to do it and hiked down to Grindelwald.
At one place, I even watched a guy in a wingsuit getting ready for base jumping. Later, I crossed a very exposed area with dozens of steps with nothing but air for 2000 meters beneath me. Next was crossing a canyon walking on a wire and holding to 2 other cables. Then there were these 10 ladders that I had to climb down.
Most sections were in the forest and were an easy hike. It ended with a Nepalais bridge. When I got there there were already 3 persons trying to cross the bridge, one girl seemed to have a hard time to cross it. When I put a first foot on the bridge, I understood why. I’m usually not much afraid of heights, however when your feet balance sideways, you are thousands of meters above the ground and all you can hold to a thin wire on the right side – this changes everything. Especially when each step creates more balancing movements. I could not even get out my camera in the first few meters.
Luckily, in the middle section, it doesn’t balance much and you can hold to large wire on each side. I managed to take pictures and enjoy the view from there. Getting off the bridge was equally as challenging. Wow! What an experience!
I then returned the rental equipment, met Tina and took the last gondola down to the valley.
We then headed to our AirBnB near Thun.
We woke up in Rotstockhuette in the 2300 metres altitude – a true Swiss Alps feeling. The breakfast was delicious – home made bread and honey, Swiss cheese and Bircher Muesli…I managed to watch the sun rise above the mountain range where some glaciers are reflecting the bright light.
The sky is completely blue, it turned out that we were really lucky with the weather. We can see the fog down in the valley that moved up and down the mountain. We left in direction of Schilthorn mountain, the famous peak from a James Bond movie. Even though we can see the summit above us, it is still far away.
The climb started easy in the green valley, but it suddenly became steeper and steeper. The trail zig zag all the way up and the view kept changing as we go up. Once on the ridge, a new scenary opened up to us and it also got colder and windy.
This is where the real challenge began for Tina who is afraid of heights. The ridge is narrow, on each side cliffs of thousands of meters. I told her to focus on the trail and not to watch down right or left. Luckily, there was a staircase fixed above the cliff so that we could safely climb up one of the steepest parts. And since the trail remained pretty technical and challenging with some snow on top of it, there were ropes along the most difficult section. Tina was very thankful! We finally arrived at the Schilthorn station and were surrounded by tourists who took the gondala to get to the submit.
After a quick lunch, we checked the prices to take the gondola to go down…Almost $CAD 70 per person, so I decided to hike down to Muerren while Tina was taking the gondola. Tina took some rest and had a tea in the rotating restaurant with an amazing view on all the mountains. An Indian couple asked here if her hiking poles were actually a selfie-stick or skiing poles…- haha! For the way down, I chose a totally different route; it started under the gondola, on the alpine ski trail, went around a small pond and then the steep down zig zag portion started. There was a waterfall nearby. It was a nice view and I met a nice American couple and we pretty much followed each other ll the way down. Once down in the valley, there were farmer trails and cows and we could easily walk until Muerren.
I met Tina at Hotel Regina in Muerren, a small village located at the top of a 700 meters high cliff that can only be accessed by gondola or train – no cars!
Needless to say, the view is amazing!
We started our day earlier than planned due to the hospital emergency (see previous post) and we managed to leave Basel on time. No wonder that Switzerland has a speed limit of 120 km/h with all these mountains and tunnels..:) We passed by Bern, Thun, Spiez and then headed up the valley until the end of the road after Lauterbrunnen. It was raining and we were not expecting much improvement based on the latest weather forecast.
We decided not get discouraged by rain, put on rain jacket, gaiters and get on the trail. You could tell we were in the Alps, it started pretty steep…There were impressive cliffs on each side, waterfalls and nice views appearing through some hole in the mix of fog and clouds. For the next 2 hours we followed a river; it was relatively easy, and the trail was large enough for a car.
Then the REAL hike started. The fog disappeared, the clouds were clearing up giving view to an amazingly blue sky and some small huts nestled within a breathtaking scenery. No noise whatsoever except of the cowbells who were eating non-stop. We passed through a series of doors that are supposed to prevent the cows from escaping. As you can imagine you need to be careful where you step…
There are fewer and fewer trees and a vast green area is opening in front of us. Far away at the bottom of the Schilthorn mountain, we can see a hut that seems to be our final destination for this day. Even though we can see it, it is still a long way to get there. We stopped a few times to take pictures, enjoy the incredible scenery and to have some snacks, the trail remains pretty steep.
We finally got to the Rotstockhutte around 4 pm. This is where we will have dinner and sleep tonight. With an unexpected blue sky, a pleasantly warm temperature and impressive mountains around it, you could potentially call it a little paradise.
We left Waldsee very early to pick up our rental car for the week and took the highway in direction of Freiburg and the so-called area “The Black Forest”.
I had a chance to legally test the capabilities of a Ford Fiesta 2015 on the autobahn. I pushed it to 198km/h (when Tina was sleeping); not bad for a compact/economic car. However, I was more often at 160. 😉
Speed limit are constantly changing, it is not unlimited speed all the way. When there is construction, curve or road merge, the speed limit drops to 120, 100 or even 80 km/h. And you usually can’t just let go the accelerator… you need to break as the speed limit may drop from 120 to 60 km/h in less than 250 meters.
It’s fun 🙂
Needless to say, the 200 km were completed in quite short time 😉
We arrived in Freiburg, passed right through, and stopped in a little village to start our hike. We planned a 12 km hike up a 1000 meters mountain. The weather was great and the views just amazing.
We left a little bit short on water (Not even 3L for 2 persons). Luckily, there was a hut at the top where we could get a refill.
Today we went for a short hike in the forest about 15km west of Speyer. The view was great from the top of the hill.
We also visited Speyer; its main street, its cathedral and the surrounding park.
I had a double expresso while sitting in the main square. It was effective to wake me up and get rid of the Jet lag. It definitely works! BTW, I never drink coffee.
2013 was an amazing year for me with plenty of adventures.
Just to name a few; I reached the summit of many 1000 meters mountains through the Adirondack, NY. I also practice many sport like Short Track Speed Skating, Inline Skating, Cycling and Climbing to stay in shape.
Get ready, 2014 will be even better!
Countdown has started before my 3 weeks trip to Peru.
Come back by March 21st, I will be updating this blog on a regular basis as I explore Peru.