Random Saturday

these images are a few of the things that grabbed my attention yesterday Advertisements

A Peak into The Switzer Land

It’s been a while. The last time I laid eyes on real mountains. A long while actually, well over a year ago if you don’t count two or three short teasing ‘glimpses’. Yesterday I saw some real frikkin’ big ones. Up close. Made me feel small. Made me feel good.

explanatory mountain infographic

explanatory mountain infographic

The weather was … well it couldn’t have been any nicer … pure blue sky and sunshine. My face is red and the skin hurts to touch, a bit. I blame that on the sunshine and snow. Oh yeah … snow played a supporting role. The place was Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland, deep in the Switzer Land. No, it didn’t smell like cheese nor look like chocolate although on a side note the super delicious Lindt chocolate easter bunnies were on sale in one shop at 75% of the usual not super cheap price. Scored and enjoyed 🙂

©iphoneographythis2014,©2014myronunrau

Temptation … yummi

My personal way back machine contains memory data of my having visited the area in my early teen years. This being a few years later and my interest and curiosity in the area still going strong, wife and I decided to head down there on a day trip. This we accomplished without using our car. Instead we made use of a very practical rail pass that can be purchased in advance for a specific date and what makes it oh so über cool is that you can travel with depth and breadth of the Switzer Lands by rail, city transit, water and cable car for one very cheapo cost (note: most cable car rides will cost you half the normal price and are generally not included as ‘free’ on the day ticket). Cost 40Chf per person = 32Euros = 50Cdn$ approx. Not a bad deal considering that rail travel in Europe is not that cheap. Doing the exploring of smaller countries in this fashion saves you wear and tear on your own vehicle, the stresses of navigating to new places and the near insurmountable obstacle of finding reasonable parking when you get to where you go. We hoped on the bus right in front of our place (convenience +), hopped off at the Badischer Bahnhof in Basel and this is where the fun part of the early morning began. You see, while I’d looked up various departure times from there to where we wanted to go, I neglected to also take a careful look at the multiple rail connections the various options had, i.e. times and track numbers as well as something as silly as which cities that we would have to get on and off the train and connections, hmmm.

screenshot of departures, sans specifics ... oops

screenshot of departures, sans specifics … oops

My wife was not impressed that I’d neglected that simple yet important factoid in planning … well that I’d not planned well enough. Ok, so that added a bit of stress but we managed to make the three connections without any real issues and didn’t miss any trains either, and that averted further stress. We also discovered that we could ride the ICE train in the Switzer Land without additional costs, coolio that. Note: the higher speeds this train is known for slowed to nearly a crawl in many of the more winding sections on our three hour trip. The speeds were ok from Basel to Bern.

riding the rains towards the  jagged peaks

racing on rails towards the jagged peaks

Swiss Train at Interlaken Ost Bahnhof

Swiss Train at Interlaken Ost Bahnhof

In Interlaken, (567m above sea level)  the Thuner See to the north and the Brienzersee to the south, we switched to the regional train that took us up through Wilderswil and on to Zweilütschinen. Instead of continuing on up to the town of Grindelwald (1034m above sea level), we hoped onto a bus for that (20minute) stretch as work was being done on that section of the rail line.

on-board windowsill graphic/map

on-board windowsill graphic/map

It was not yet noon when we arrived at our destination. What struck me most of all as soon as I got off the bus and raised my eyes to the view was the immensity of the surrounding mountains that ranged just west of the small valley; not a narrow valley but not that large either.

the Eiger, the town and the yellow bus

the Eiger, the town and the yellow bus

It felt good. Really good. I always feel good when I am in the mountains, when I can see them … feel them. My wife also has a similar reaction and adds that she feels like she’s come home when she’s in the mountains. These fuckers however made me feel small. Real small. It was weird. I’m walking around, looking at this or that chalet and taking in how people live here and then I look up and am blown away, overpowered by the magnitude of the towering mountain peaks right above my head. Overwhelming in the best possible sense. And to see that residents of this town had such spectacular backdrops to their everyday lives … very cool indeed.

this is the view someone has out of their kitchen window, of a quaintly solid chalet home. It's the Eiger

this is the view someone has out of their kitchen window, of a quaintly solid chalet home. It’s only one of most famous mountains on earth – the Eiger

And to the left of the spectacle continues to impress. One could spend days, nay weeks absorbing the wonder of it all.

on foot

feet

We decided to poke about a bit and set off on foot.

Wanderweg Sign

Wanderweg Signage. Eiger behind sign

we went left

we went left towards the Wetterhorn

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 17.26.25

ferien wohnung rental accomodation

and hiked up narrow climbing paved roadways, past idylic chalet settings bedeked with small to large cow bells, and hillside pasture used by goats with jangling bells. We also saw several signs advertising ‘Alpen cheese’ for sale. This is where it gets silly. We packed a lunch, a good lunch because things are esspensivo in the Switzer Lands. Hell, we even packed a chunk of Gruyere cheese but then couldn’t resist the urge to buy more cheese at one of the local shops along with a Swiss air cured beef specialty to add to our packed lunch; of which we only ate the bread. On our meandering way back towards town and the gondola ride upwards to the First peak, we stopped and sat on a bench at a small old barn for a rustic lunch in the sunshine with a view on the Eiger.

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 17.29.09

lunch spot

view towards Grindelwald from lunch spot

view towards Grindelwald

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 17.27.51

more valley view

On our way back to town we heard some odd noise that clashed violently with the stillness of this alpine idyll, a loud reverberating roar that bounced out of the blue sky and off the mountainsides above and behind us.  Two Swiss airforce fighter jet aircraft were engaged in close  maneuvers, a tight circling airborne dance lest they fly or rocket out of bounds (Switzerland being smallish in size). The country has a strong and clear sense of defense. On our journey there we saw two individual soldiers in full gear including the rifle slung in front of the body with folded stock,a reminder that this folk is prepared, willing and ready to defend at a moments notice it seems. Actually we had wanted to hike up to the First peak (2168m above sea level) but were told that since the recent ski season had wrapped up not too long ago that conditions on the upper hiking trails were ‘difficult’ and for the most part closed. Ok, gondola time. With our special travel day pass we scored half price tickets and hopped into a small four person gondola for the (much to our uniformed surprise) half hour trip up to the peak from 1034m in Grindelwald.

gondoling up to the First from Grindelwald

gondoling up to the First from Grindelwald, Schreckhorn 4075m

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 23.00.16

Eiger 3970m center image

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 23.00.48

Finsteraarhorn 4274m above the valley floor

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 23.01.24

Schreckfeld gondola station, turns 90º and heads up the last little stretch to the First.

author way above sea level

author way above sea level

We hung out a bit up there, soaked up the brutal sunshine, ate a few of our packed goodies, ordered something to drink and headed back down to the Bort gondola station at 1570m from the First  From there we decided to hike back down the rest of the way to town because it was such a beautiful day and after all we’d wanted to hike in the first place.

hiking down towards Grindelwald

hiking down towards Grindelwald

alpine spectacle

alpine spectacle

idyllic scenery

idyllic scenery

Edelweiss flower info The day after: our legs are a bit sore, our exposed skin got burned, our spirits are lifted and the memories rock. Go visit off season, it’s less busy 😉

The Switzer Land, it might be small, but it's really big too.

The Switzer Land, it might be small, but it’s really big too.

Yester Day

iphoneographythis©2013,myronunrau©2013

Old Fence Old Window

Sunny Park Day East Vancouver, BC

Aging Darkly

 

travel on the wet coast of canada

iphoneographythis@2012, 2012©myronunrau

Forest at Sunset

iphoneographythis©2012, 2012©myronunrau

Forest Friends

 

iphoneographythis©2012,2012©myronunrau

Forest Four

 

 

 

 

Canadiana 112 with a Sick Twist

Canadian love to go camping. We live in a pretty gigantic camping paradise so the May long weekend in these parts heralds the first official camping weekend for those so inclined. It is a much anticipated weekend to say the least and I was one of of those anticipators. I like getting out into the bush for some closer communion with all things green and just sleeping outside is something special. Making coffee in camp is also something I look forward to, tastes better out there, away from the everyday routine. I made sure I ground enough of the stuff not to run out, hehe.

All that week was spent pumping up the upcoming weekend and I was happy to have three days to hang out out there, away from the city for a while. But one dark cloud threatened that idylic notion. You see, here in British Columbia, if you want to hit a camp ground as it were, you have to make reservations now, in advance too and I’d kind of forgotten to get into that mind set and didn’t do that. Usually I roll up to my favorite place, pick a spot and pay the people who come to collect the over night fee. That was, the new ‘is’ is different. I don’t like the new system because it takes the spontaneity out of something that comes natural and making reservations is not natural when it comes to camping. So my plan was to see what would happen. I had not even really decided where I wanted to be and only figured that one out an hour before I threw my backpack into the car and puttered off down the highway and of the city, a big cup of coffee and a smile on my face.

I decided to go wild, hike into a lake I know and set up there. Not my usual place but far enough from all of the other riff raff that camps ‘anywhere’ on this long and probably busy weekend. I started feeling really good when the houses were replaced by trees wizzing past. The day was lovely, the sunshine warm and I was in a good mood. I hit Chilliwack, a farming town and pointed the car towards a narrow valley and a long stretch of road that would lead to where I wanted to be. Nice, a cold clean river on my right side and trees and mountains everywhere else I looked.

©iphoneographythis, 2012©myronunrau

view from camp

And I ended up picking a spot that wasn’t too far off the road too. I’ve seen this road under a long weekend onslaught many times before. People would pick just about any spot to pitch a tent, and not always in ideal spots but I found one that usually was shared by a number of campers. More than perfect for one person this time. I set up my camp, strung my hammock and set to relaxing and enjoying being out there. I was looking forward to two nights under the stars but what I got was an entirely different experience which began with a bit of a sore throat coming on mid afternoon.

©iphoneographythis, 2012©myronunrau

camp setup

How could it be that I had looked forward to spending some time out by myself over a long weekend and then my body checks in with my brain and the two confer for a bit and come to conclusion that while the idea was a great one, my body had picked up some bug somewhere and wasn’t going to be able to enjoy itself as much as I’d wanted? It happened. I got sick. Real sick, real fast. Thankfully my camp setup was not too complicated and I managed to throw it all together and stuff it back into my clown car (smart car), my head reeling, chills and hot flashes alternating my body temperatures in minutes. Time to head for home …

I made it, just. Had I stayed a couple of hours longer, I would have experienced pure hell out there and I am glad that I listened to my body signals and headed for a real bed. Long story short, I ended up in bed for two solid days of fevers and chills. And oddly enough the weather mirrored my condition and rain set it for those two days too. So, it would have been doubly bad for me out there, had I got stuck out there. Yeah, the silver lining in that cloud cover was sweet but being sick is never a sweet thing ever and wasting a whole weekend on being sick when one should be having fun … well, you probably know what that feels like. It’s been a tough week but I’m feeling better and looking forward to trying that again … soon.

Canadiana 102

There are a wide variety of trees in Canada, tall, short, wide, skinny, and mostly green. I’d hazard a guess that there are Brazilions of them. More than I could count. Hell, I can’t even remember how many I personally stuffed into mother earths’ skin the summer I tree planted. The west is generally green all year round, what with all those evergreen trees congregating in dense groups called forests or woods. If you’re looking for the pretty colorful Canadian fall calendar type scenics, you will find it more in the central to the eastern regions of this land.

However many trees types that make up our countries lumber supply littering this contries’ garden wildernesses, national parks, provincial parks and city parks as permanent shade givers and landscape features, there is a place where those suckers simply don’t grow well or at all.

Separating the bit of Canada with lots of trees and the bit without is something called the ‘Tree Line’; see the squiggly green line on the graphic for visual aid.

Squiggly Northern Canadian Tree-Line (image curtesy of http://www.ece.gov.nt.ca website)

It might all be north as far as you’re concerned or south depending on where you are reading this from right now, but if you’re north of that line, you’ll know it because you can’t climb the shrubbery excuses that pass for trees up there. It’s the frosty cold grip of the climate up there that tends to be a tree killer because it freezes the tree sap, zapping them to death with the freezer effect.

There also are other types of tree lines, but I wanted to draw your attention to this green one in particular.