Sunday, 20 July 2014

Switzerland: above Chur

Chur
Chur
It had seemed a lot longer than just 3 days ago that I was out hiking. My train journey from Zermatt to Chur, in the Graubunden region, had taken the best part of Thursday under gloomy skies, and on Friday I was resigned to exploring the city as there was no way anyone should be out on the mountains in this awful weather.

Arriving tired and grumpy, I didn't afford Chur much credit, and it wasn't until the next morning that I discovered it had some charm. The oldest city in Switzerland, the architecture in the old town is worth a visit alone.

Chur
Chur
Chur
Chur
Chur
Chur
Anyway, enough of that because this is a blog about hiking, and on Saturday, the sun came out and the clouds lifted enough to make it worth exploring the hills.

The JBN Hostel, where I was staying, is conveniently located a few doors away from the cable car that takes you up to Kanzeli at 1170m, where you transfer to a smaller capsule to Brambruesch, high above the city at 1595m.

Swiss sign to indicate a mountain hiking route
Swiss blaze to indicate a hiking route
Leaving the station, I was soon taking a path right, leaving the majority of German hikers to head along the well trodden route, instead scaling a narrow path through gnarly tree roots and mud. To the left, the edge of the mountain dropped away, and the incline of the path had me gasping for air.

The path to Spundisköpf was steep, muddy and gnarly with tree routes
The path to Spundiskopf
Spundiskopf, at 1847m, was my first peak of the day. A small clearing next to a fence that protected both livestock and hikers from an untimely death. There was a rock, marking the spot, but I couldn't quite make out the inscription.

Town of Domat / Ems below
Town of Dornat / Ems below

Spundisköpf Summit
Spundiskopf summit
Moving on, to Spundiskopf See, a small pond some half a kilometre away as you exit the trees and step out into meadow.

Wildflower
Wildflower
Spundisköpf See
Spundikopf See
Here, I picked up the main track taken to Dreibundenstein, a wide path dotted with cows and their cocophony of bells.

One standing, two sitting
One standing, two sitting
I laboured on up to Huhnerkopfe, at 1947m, my next peak to bag, where a chair lift station sat idle in the summer months.

Looking back to Hühnerköpfe and Spundiköpf
Looking back to Huhnerkopfe and Spundikopf
By now, I could see the larger party of German hikers before me, disappearing out of sight occasionally, as clouds drifted over the ground. I blindly followed them, believing they were also heading for the summit. Maybe they were, I never found out, but for whatever reason they turned right and followed a mountain path that was soon contouring the mountain.

Below, we were afforded occasional glimpses of the height we were at, but for most of the time, we saw only cloud.

Just see Domat / Ems through the cloud
Just see Dornat / Ems through the cloud
I eventually caught up with the party, as they inspected a plaque by the path, that was a memorial to a US Bomber called Lady Patricia, that crashed into the side of the mountain in 1944.

Crash site of The Lady Patricia
Crash site of The Lady Particia
Caught up with them.
Caught up with them
Still following the Germans, passing them one by one as the ground widened, I reached the point I should have been descending to from the summit. Not one to let this pass, I carried straight up the slope, which was about 150m.

approaching Term Bel
Approaching Term Bel
The path I should have been coming down from Dreibündenstein
The path I should have benn coming down from Dreibundenstein
Before the summit, a junction is reached; left is Furggabuel, right was Dreibundenstein. I turned right and reached the bullet shaped cairn that marked the summit at 2152m.

Cairn at Dreibündenstein
Cairn at Dreibundenstein

Views from Dreibündenstein
Views from Dreibunednstein
I retraced my steps to the junction but carried on up to Furggabuel, at 2174m. Much more of a summit feel to this peak, the other end of the chairlift from Huhnerkopfe.

Views from Furggabüel
Views from Furggabuel
Views from Furggabüel
Views from Furggabuel
Chur from Furggabüel
Chur from Furggabuel
I lingered a while on Furggabuel. The unintended diversion to the crash site had set me back a bit, and so I weighed up my options. I decided to carry on to Feldis, and went back down the slope to Term Bel ski hut.

Term Bel Ski hut below Tgom' Aulta
Term Bel Ski Hut below Tgom' Aulta
I took a break at the ski hut, enjoyed a Nestea, and their toilet facilities. Refreshed, I carried on, passing Tgom' Aulta. My preoccupation with the correct location of this particular peak on my left caused me to miss Sennestein at 2001m on my right, so I was a bit miffed when I realised it later in the day. as it was, Tgom' Aulta wasn't incorrectly listed in Geonames, it was one of two with the same name within a couple of kilometres of each other!

Tgom 'Aulta
Tgom' Aulta
I stopped before Leg Palus, and sat on a bench, admiring Chur below. The low clouds had long cleared and I had great views of the area below, and could see the ridges of Spundiskopf and Furggabuel rising.

Spundisköpf and Furggabüel
Spundiskopf and Furggabuel

Spundisköpf
Spundiskopf
Leg Palus was a small lake, overgrown, but a pretty spot. From the lake, it was  short walk into Alp de Veulden. I walked though this small collection of huts, and decided to ascend to Mutta, where I could take the cable car down to Feldis, or so I thought!

Marmot
Marmot
Leg Palus
Leg Palus
Wooden sculptures near Leg Palus
Wooden sculptures near Leg Palus
Alp da Veulden
Alp de Veulden
When I reached Mutta, a peak at 1974m, with splendid views of the Hinterrhein valley, it soon became apparent that it wasn't a cable car, but instead a chair lift. Not being one for heights, I chose to walk down.

Wooden sculptures on Mutta
Wooden sculptures on Mutta
Mutta
Mutta
looking south to Rothenbrunnen
Looking south to Rothenbrunnen
At first, finding the correct path down was confusing. For a while I appeared to be heading back to Tgom' Aulta! Eventually the track veered right away from the peak, and I descended a muddy cattle trodden track through a meadow to Retga.

Muddy path down Alp Raguta
Muddy path down Alp Raguta
From Retga, it was steady descent, a mixture of road and meadow, with plenty of wildflowers and butterflies.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers
Wildflower
Wildflower
Butterfly
Butterfly
I was next through Rumadetsch, and then on road, under the chair lift from Mutta, and into Feldis / Veulden. I arrived at the cable car station with only fifteen minutes to wait for my ride down to the train at Rhazuns.

Feldis / Veulden
Feldis / Veulden
Church at Feldis / Veulden
Church at Feldis / Veulden

The route: