Via Alpina, Day 2: Glatti – Hangstboden

Straight through our sleeping meadow we search for the path we left yesterday to be able to camp in this magical place. A little higher up we catch up with the Via Alpina again. We pass a river under a waterfall, where we stop for a short while to wash our clothes. A few meters below us we see a group of cows getting out of a trailer. They are driven higher by a few people with loud screams. After the washing program of our ecological washing machine is finished, we take the same path as that of the cows.

According to the altitude profile, we have to climb about 1000 meters. A nice fitness test, on this second day of our adventure. On the way we are amazed by the diversity and splendor of the countless waterfalls that show themselves to us in all possible sizes. In a few weeks they may not be so numerous anymore, when all the snow in the mountains has melted and there is no melt water to drain to the great rivers in the valley anymore. Under a small waterfall I take a refreshing mini shower. It  feels good!

When we get an indescribably beautiful view of green mountain walls with snowy rocky peaks, the cows also come into our sights again. They are just like us on their way to the Fooalp. While they reach the alp via a lower hillside, our route chooses a steep path with high cut steps. If this should represent the “steps, steep paths and iron cables” that the topoguide warned us about yesterday, it is not too bad.

Just before we reach the Fooalp we are greeted enthusiastically by a loud barking dog. His owner pops over the mountain wall and whistles his four-legged comrade back to him. Behind a meadow – where our cow family will move in in a few minutes – we reach the Fooalp hut. Although the cabin doesn’t really serve as a supply point, we are still offered two large glasses of water. The owner added some homemade syrup to the water. This syrup is based on black berries, which originate from a plant with large white flowers. Whichever plant that is, remains a mystery to us. But it tastes very good.

The owner of the cabin tells us that he lives here four months a year to take care of the cows. Approximately 250 animals will arrive on the Fooalp the following days, in order to get through the summer-. He says that it’s hard work, since the cows must always be brought from alp to alp. In “real” life the man is a carpenter, but it’s clear from his face that he prefers to do this job in stead.

After the Fooalp we still need to climb 400 meters. And those 400 meters really fly by. That has everything to do with the fact that we are allowed to climb in a beautiful background. High above the green hills with eroded paths, sturdy rock faces tower.

When we arrive at the Foopass after a good hour of climbing, we are completely surprised by what appears before our eyes behind the pass. It is Switzerland, in all its glory! We dared not dream of such an extraordinary panorama. My mouth literally drops in surprise. I then decide to put in some bread and cheese. After all, it is lunchtime …

The long descent to the village of Elm takes us past magnificent alpine meadows, where cows with big bells round their neck complete the Swiss picture. The mountain walls on the other side are dominated by impressive waterfalls.

In Elm we drink something on a sun-drenched terrace. We agree to continue a little further and get ourselves in to an extra climb of 600 meters. But against all odds it goes pretty smoothly. On our way to the top we have to watch out for people with big go-carts who are stumbling down the wide gravel path.

At the most perfect moment we suddenly encounter a picnic area with a bench and even a fire pit. Despite the indication that you can not camp here, we still set up our tent. After we have ate a simple freeze-dried meal, Wim makes fire. It feels good, because now the sun has disappeared behind the mountain peaks, a dark and cold shadow falls over our bivouac site. Even before the last wood has been extinguished, we crawl into our sleeping bags. Through the thin canvas, I continue to listen for a while to the sound of the buzzing river that cuts the entire valley in two. I really can’t imagine a better lullaby …

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