Switzerland: Sunegga, Furggegga, Tufteren circular
When it comes to hiking, Tuesday had been a complete write off. Except for an excellent 7-1 victory by the Germans over Brazil, there was little to be enthused about.
Wednesday morning promised much more. Looking out of my dorm window, I could see the shroud had lifted somewhat, and there were even chinks of blue in the air. Time to get breakfast done with and stretch those legs, which were already feeling it from a sedentary day.
I was away by nine, heading towards the town centre, but instead of turning left over the bridge and up to the main strasse, I turned right towards Reid. The road took me under the Gornergrat Railway, and then a footpath appeared right, where the ascent really began. Heavy wooden steps wound through houses to the Oberhuseren, where the tree line began.
Although my intended target was Sunegga, I was making it up as I went along, so at each signpost, I had to make a choice. First one was left to Reid, or right to Findeln; I figured as this was a circular it mattered little, and opted for Findeln mainly because the next kilometre appeared to contour nicely on the map.
The ground underfoot was wet, but not very muddy, and going was good, which was a relief given some of the drops to my right would put paid to the rest of the walk should I slip.
Near Winkelmatten, the path nears the railway again, and you turn left to ascend a series of switchbacks to the edge of a valley cut by the Findelbach below. Soon you are rising at a more amiable gradient, and it is a pleasant walk to Findeln.
Through Findeln, to the right, the peaks of Gornergrat and Hohtalligrat could just be seen in a break in the clouds, and behind me, the Matterhorn flashed a bit of her North face; the tease!
I made my way up towards Sunegga, spotted my first Marmot of the trip, just below Furgegga, which I intended to bag later, if I could find the path up.
On reaching Sunegga, at 2288m, I stopped for a cup of coffee and rested on the sun terrace.
This is a place I know well, and have, on numerous occasions, whiled away the hours studying the Matterhorn; alas, not today, though. Instead, I looked along a small green ridge below me; Chuebord, where I guessed I would find my next peak; Furggegga.
At first, I wasn't sure it was accessible. A bike ramp seemed to bar the way to it, but on further inspection I could step around it and then I was hopping over a couple of rocks, and on to a narrow but defined and easily followed route.
This stroll was a delight. There were plenty of wildflowers to see, and on a better day i could have easily lounged on the rocks in awe of the vista.
I eventually reached Furggegga, at 2178m and was pleased that I was the first Social Hiker to have done so! How I wish I had a flag to unfurl and claim this peak for Queen and country! Maybe that's a piece of merchandise that Phil Sorrell could sort out! :-)
I was back on the main path soon enough, and looping back towards Sunegga. fortunately, I didn't have to revisit it, as it was mobbed by a horde of tourists who had ventured up the funicular railway that rises steeply through a tunnel from Zermatt.
I was now on a level path bound for Tufteren. Now, though, rain was falling as hail, and a look behind me saw a front moving in. Fortunately, it was a slow mover, and didn't catch me. The walk to Tufteren is on an excellent wide, and flat path. It is also known as the Blumenweg, because of the opportunity to see plenty of flora along the way.
At Tufteren, any precipitation had gone, and I decided to stop at the hotel for lunch. Before doing so, I noticed the closed sign for the Europweg, which was the route to Taschalp, that I had planned to do on Monday, in the opposite direction. I do hope they clear it soon because it is a terrific walk on a good day with one stunning view of the Matterhorn after another, until you might become sick of the sight of it! ;-)
Lunch was a half litre of Weissbeir, minestrone soup, cheese and bread; excellent fare. I basked on the terrace, warmed by the sun, and watched a sheet of rain move slowly across Zermatt far below. I didn't want to leave, but I had to.
I was now on a path ominously named "Direttissima", which I took to mean "Direct" and as it left Tufteren I was disturbed by its narrowness and lack of earth along its right bank. My pace slowed but my nerve held, and after a couple of minutes the ground wasn't so precipitous.
It started to rain as I descended through Inden Bruchen, back firmly in the tree line. Passed a ski lift named Patrullarve at 1990m, the weather perked up and the sun reappeared. I stopped at a clearing known as Tiefennmatten, and removed my rain coat.
Still further down, I happened upon a break in the trees where I could see Zermatt in all it's glory. I was almost down now.
Eventually, I could make out the rooftops of houses beside the path, and down onto a road that I would follow to the end. I was soon retracing my steps under the railway and round the corner to the Old Zermatt Restaurant where I celebrated with a beer.
A good day, and one that rescued this particular trip to Zermatt! I was happy.