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Churfirsten

Walenstadtberg Höchenklinik (980m) -> Hochrugg (1320m) -> Paxmal (a peace memorial)-> Schrina Obersäss (1718m) -> Alp Tschingla (1528m) -> Walenstadtberg (805m)
11.2km, 765m ascent / 970m descent, 4h45min

Our original idea was to go up to Chäserrugg, 2262m, from the Walensee side. Studying the map carefully,  we figured, it meant “climbing” 1’300m of altitude on some very steep mountain path. Well, we changed plans…

Instead, we opted for a round trip hike over Alp Tschingla with still 800m ascent : )

After one hour’s steady uphill from the bus stop (980m),  we reached Hochrugg, 1320m. Picnic lunch time with an awesome view of the Walensee and the Flumserberge on the other side of it.

Passing a couple of charming farmhouses,  an gigantic Parthenon-like monument, Paxmal (a peace monument) appeared out of nowhere, on the mountain flank of the Churfirsten!

Apparently, a Swiss stamp engraver and artist called Karl Bickel, built this peace monument between 1924 and 1949, high above the Walensee. The setting is awesome:  the backdrop of the soaring Churfirsten peaks.

Our path to Alp Tschingla was steep, but the majestic vertical rock walls of the Churfirsten mountains, paired with a view of the deep-blue Walensee 1,000 m below, was phenomenal.

Finally reaching Schrina Obersäss (1718m), the highest point of this hike, the path levelled out.  Relatively easily we arrived at Alp Tschingla and had a tasty home-made almond cake and a cold beer as a self-reward!

With a little more than one hour left to catch the bus at Walenstadtberg, we almost flew down 700 m of altitude and ended up with muscle ache the next day.

More details on today’s route :  Alp- und Kulturweg Schrina

More on Paxmal

Sankt Martin, a charming Walser settlement

This is our first visit to the Calfeisental (Calfeisen Valley), a very isolated, narrow yet beautiful valley behind Bad Ragaz, of which Philippe had never heard neither.

The drive to Sankt Martin is already kind of an adventure. The only road is so narrow that it can only be used one way at a time. The first 20 minutes of every hour upwards, 10 minutes of buffer time, then 20 minutes the other way.

We loved the charming hotel-restaurant Sankt Martin because we could feel that someone really cares about this place!  The soup and risotto we had were very tasty.

This place is another surprising discovery in a region so close to our home.

Sankt Martin:

Our hike today:
Sankt Martin (1340m)  -> Alp Sardona (1743m) -> Sankt Martin (1340m), 12km, 550m ascent / descent, 4 hours

More on Sankt Martin hotel-restaurant

The Dolomites Day 3: Burgstall

Kreuzbergpass 1636m  -> Burgstall 2161m -> Fischleinbodenhütte 1454m -> Moos 1339m
500m up, 800m down

3nd day in the Dolomites. Another great walk around the imposing Sextner Rotwand (2936m).

The Dolomites Day 2: Drei Zinnen and Fischleinbodenhütte

Rif Auronzo 2320m -> Lavaredohütte (2344m) ->DreiZinnenhütte 2405m -> Talchlusshütte (1548m) -> Fischleinbodenhütte 1454m
200m ascent; 950m descent

I was walking in a heaven today : )  Too many majestic peaks in every direction and I did not know which way to look at….

The Dolomites Day 1: Lago di Braies

Lago di Braies (1494m) – Forela Sora Forno (2388m) – Rifugio Biella (2327m) – Grünwaldalm (1590m) – Lago di Braies (1494m)
17km (estimated), 1100m up and down

The Dolomites wich I have long dreamed of!

Today’s plan was to walk the first part of the famous Alta Via 1 (a 120km long-distance hiking route) and take the route 23 & 19 back to the lake. The Alta Via 1 hike is on my wish-list for a while so it will give me some ideas for this route for the future.

At the trailhead we were welcomed by the amazing green color of the lake, Lago di Braies,  surrounded by impressive peaks! Being on the Alta Via 1,  I was already all smiles : ))

After going around one side of the lake, a very steep climb started. Several people were going up and one Italian was coming up steadily but with lots of efforts.  He was doing the Alta Via carrying a 22 kg bag including a tent and all you need for sleeping outdoors! No wonder he was sweating.

We were happy to reach the top at 2300m and had our well-deserved picnic lunch “on the rocks” with a fantastic 360-degree view.

From the Rifugio Biella the flat path started but it did not last long. With small up and downs we walked around the impressive mountain Sas dla Porta / Seekofel at the level of 2300m.  And then, inevitable, after the ascent, the decent. It was a path of scree. We had to concentrate not to slip. It is almost like snowshoeing on powder snow. But more tiring….

Happy to finish this exhausting downhill and back to the lake, we replenished our batteries with a cup of tea and a cold beer at the Grand Lakeside Hotel terrace…

Eataly 🇮🇹

This trip unexpectedly turned into a fantastic food adventure. The best I can remember (outside Japan, that is). Ohhh… these black smoked gnocchi with truffel and asparagus were to die for and the gnocco fritto a surprising start into a  great meal.

Cagli

We stayed three nights in Cagli, which looks very much like a normal Italian town with a medieval touch, but doesn’t leave as much an impression as the amazing towns of Assisi and Gobbio. The reason why we stayed here was due to the proximity to Philippe’s favorite model sailplane flying place!

But it nevertheless turned out to be an interesting place.  Our B&B apartment, part of an old mansion owned by low-key Italian Francesco, was nice and cozy. What surprised us was Francesco’s museum-like mansion! It has a 4m high-ceiling dining room, several bedrooms with antique furniture, an enormous kitchen with a fireplace and antique plates,  and other countless rooms…. Totally amazing!

The town has a good size square where locals and some tourists hang out for coffee and chatting. We get a good taste for an Italian life, by going for dinner in this square where everyone gathers and also by going for breakfast in one of popular cafes in town where many locals seem to come for espresso and a sweet bread.

A taste of Italian life in Cagli.

Flying at Monte Morcia

The actual flying place is called “La Bandita” on Monte Morcia in Marche. For some unknown reasons, modellers refer to it as Monte Catria in Umbria (even Monte Catria is in Marche). Interesting piece of trivia.

I enjoyed two days of excellent flying conditions. This is the best place for alpine model RC soaring I know.

Monte Catria

Monte Morcia (1181m) to Monte Catria (1701m)
5-6 hours, 20km (estimated), 550m up & down

On the second day in the region of Monte Morcia.

Today we left early so that Philippe gets an early start with flying on his preferred hilltop, Monte Morcia.

After watching him flying his airplane a bit, I headed off to Monte Catria (1701m) , the highest peak in this area. Its peak with the cross can be seen from far.

From Monte Morcia I walked on the white road till the foot of Monte Acuto (1668m).  By then several cars with German number plates passed by and I knew that these flyers were going to the same point where Philippe was. This spot is popular particularly among Germans, I was told.

After half an hour or so, it was a relief to be out of the car road and finally find the hiking path. It lead into the beautiful dense forest and I enjoyed the serenity of the place, away from the scorching sun.

From the GPS map I knew that I had to go around to the other side of Monte Acuto before going to Monte Catria. At a couple of points the signposts were not clear or not present at all so I asked some forest workers for directions (almost no other hiker was on the path).

Again I came out of the forest and onto a gravel road. Soon a car passed by but it stopped a couple of meters away and back-warded towards me.  From the window the guy extended his arm and held something in his hand. I noticed that it was the regional map of “Monte Catria”!  While I stared at it, he gave it to me without a word and drove away before I could say anything.

I was taken back and wanted to ask him, “did you read my mind??”
I kept wishing I would have had a proper map, as I lost my way several times today. Might he be one of the workers whom I saw and asked for directions earlier?  I did not recognize him and was therefore a bit perplexed, but overjoyed with a new “compass” in my hands!

So I started walking with a better sense of orientation and confidence. Soon Monte Catria came into sight. The top with the cross looked quite far and its sharp mountain flank looked unfriendly.

The hike took more time than I had planned, as I spent a lot of time trying to find the path. But two women hikers came down and told me that it would take only over one hour so I decided to give it a go.  The path was steep and slippery near the top but the view was fantastic!  Unfortunately it was terribly windy and cold up there, so I could not stay for long.

A sweeping view from the top!

I walked back the way I came and I was exhausted when I reached where Philippe was still happily flying his airplane along with lots of German and Swiss enthusiasts ….