Switzerland - Scharnachtal

by Kimp 7. September 2012 04:55
Photo Blog
When I was 21 I had a good friend named Milt. It was about a month before Milt's 21st birthday and he told me one day that his dream was to hike in the Grand Teton's in Wyoming. I spent a month gathering equipment and planning, then we went there, and set off on a 4 day hike. We were going to hike up to a lake that was at 10,000 feet and had an authorized camping grounds. spend a few days exploring that area, then hike back down.
Their was one little problem. It was kind of late in the hiking season and the weather was a bit risky. We knew that there might be a front coming through, but when we started it was a beautiful day.  About 75 degrees, very sunny and no clouds, so we figured the weather report might have been wrong, and even though it was a risk, we wouldn't let that get in the way. We thought that we were prepared for the cold.
As we are hiking up the trail we came across a moose. Wow, are they ever huge, healthy and fierce looking. He was coming directly in our direction and I can remember trying real hard to get a big tree between me and him. Luckily he tired of playing that game and went on his way. After that we saw about 3 sign's warning that there had been Bear sightings recently on the trails that we were on. Those had us a little scared but we trudged on, gaining confidence as we went, and didn't see any bears between signs.
The sun was starting to go down and we were running a little late, then it started snowing, we couldn't stop early because there weren't any authorized camp grounds between where we were and the lake. About an hour later there was 2 inches of snow on the ground, the sun was down, and that was when it started snowing harder and harder. When visibility dropped to about 100 feet, I decided to find a place to set up camp. Milt said, "Craig, we can't camp here!". I told Milt, "At this point I would love it if the park ranger's came, arrested us, and put us in jail for camping in an unauthorized location." We found a small grove of trees and made a quick assessment. There was plenty of loose dead wood on the ground for a camp fire, the trees were breaking some of the wind and sheltering us from the snow from above. There was a small clearing where we could build a decent fire. It was perfect.
I asked Milt to gather some loose dead wood and bring it near the clearing where I started cutting it with the hatchet that we brought. Thirty minutes later, I'm tired from chopping wood, so I ask Milt if he would start chopping while I got the fire started. This is when Milt started to complain about some kind of lung problem. "Craig, I'm really having difficulty breathing." I said, "Milt, you better keep breathing, because I Damn sure aren't giving you mouth to mouth." So, he sat down on a dead tree, while I got the fire started. 
With the fire going good, I unrolled Milt's sleeping bag near it, and he came over and got warm while I pitched the tent. With that done, I finally cozy up to the fire and am starting to get warm. We keep hearing a bunch of animals in the area. I'm thinking, probably deer jostling things around to make shelter, but Milt is thinking otherwise. Milt says, "I'm sure that's a Bear." After a short argument, I decided Milt wasn't going to shut up, so I went out into the dark to take a look. It's pitch black and snowing hard, and I didn't find anything. But when I got back, I told Milt it was a just some deer.
We went into the tent to try to sleep. It was very cold, after an hour we were freezing, and Milt was complaining about his lungs again. I look out and the fire was still just barely going, so I went out and got it blazing again. Milt then came back out by the fire. The problem with the fire was, that the side of my body facing the fire was really hot, but the other side was freezing.
That's when I had the great idea of building another fire and getting between them. That worked great, but with two blazing fires, our firewood was running out quickly. Earlier, I had made a deal with Milt, that we would alternate getting up and getting wood during the night. Milt did that once, then complained about his lungs again, so I gathered all of the wood for the rest of the night.
The next day, the sun came up, the wind quit, and it was beautiful again. We looked at our sleeping bags and they were full of burn holes from where the fires embers had been landing on them all night. We just threw them in the fire and burned them. With Milt's lung problem, I wanted to reduce weight and we decided to head back down as well.
We put the fires out, spread the ashes as best we could, cleaned up the camp site and headed back down. Fours hours later, all of the snow had melted, and it was easy hiking the rest of the way down. After we get back to the car, I ask Milt if he wanted me to take him to the hospital to have his lungs looked at. He turns to me and says "Oh no. I feel great now. My lungs are fine !!!". At that point in time, I just wanted to jam my hand down his throat and rip his lungs out, for all for the worry and hassle that he had put me through, but I kept my mouth shut.
What I learned from that experience was to never go hiking with Milt again. Cause when your head gets under water, he's just going to panic and drag you down even further.
Switzerland has several levels of hiking. Much of Switzerland's easy hiking is composed of walking up people's asphalt driveways. Instead of building roads up in the mountain's, what they did was: One person would build a long drive way to their house, then the next person would build onto the first persons driveway, and so on, and so on. Its a one lane driveway that goes behind someones house then keeps going to the next house, winding and getting higher and higher. There are also difficult path's that are well marked, rock and dirt and pastures. And you can mix and match levels, since most are interconnected, which is what I did.
Switzerland also has glaciers, but unless you are very experienced or go with a guide, you need to stay away from hiking on them. Avalanches can happen at any time of year and there are cracks and crevices that would probably be fatal if you slipped into them.
For this hike, I decided to just do a day hike. A day hike is where we hike all day but do not camp out. There are three ways to do it.
1. Hike from one cabin to another.
2. Start near public transportation, hike to another public transportation and then ride it back to where you started.
3. Hike 1/2 day out and then return. 
Where I was, number 3 was about the only option.
The rest of the story is in the captions of the Photo Blog.



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