Via Alpina, Day 3: Hangstboden – Braunwald

While Wim breaks up the tent, I prepare coffee and write in my diary. We fill our water bottles by the river and march towards Obererbs.

Yesterday we actually already wanted to reach Obererbs. We had read in the topoguide that there’s a hut over there. And a fresh beer at the end of a hiking day wouldn’t have been that bad. But in the end, staying at the well-equipped picnic area was the best choice, since we can’t spot any hut in Obererbs when we eventually arrive there. We see three buildings, but they are all abandoned.

With positive energy we commence the climb to the next two passes of our route. In total we will cross 16 passes on the Via Alpina. The Foopass of yesterday was the first one. And tonight the counter will be at three. We have to cross a narrow but wild river that is covered by an unstable snow bridge. Walking over the snow is too dangerous, so we try to pass the stream higher up, where the snow has melted a bit.

Once we have crossed the river, we have to clamber up steeply against the mountainside to get back on the path. But things don’t go as planned. When Wim comes back to take my backpack so I can climb up somewhat safer, Wim slides down. He takes me with him in his fall. My ribs hit the rocks. With my feet on one bank of the heavily eroded river and my shoulders on the other side, I hang like a human bridge over the ice-cold river. I can’t get up, because my heavy rucksack pulls down my whole body and takes me completely out of balance. While I keep hanging there, Wim tries to detach my backpack from my body and takes it from me. He succeeds, after which I’m able to push myself back up again and bring myself to safety. We immediately look for a safer place to get over the rocks. After some scrambling, we finally manage to get back on the path. And just when we arrive on the Via Alpina again, we look back and see a part of the snow bridge collapsing and being carried away by the river …

Besides some abrasions, bruises and torn pants, we fortunately are left without any severe injuries after our clumsiness. However, I notice that the fall has suck all the energy out of my body. Puffing and panting I arrive on the first mountain pass. We take a short break and eat a granola bar, which should give my legs enough strength for the next climb.

 

I don’t know if it’s indeed thanks to the granola bar, or that the enchanting view on top of the pass has something to do with it, but suddenly everything goes a lot smoother. We first have to descend a bit to arrive in a gigantic large mountain basin, which is intersected by a strong meandering river. We are completely alone in this wonderful place and I enjoy it to the fullest.

At the next climb our climbing techniques are put to the test a second time. A particularly steep passage is still covered with snow and can’t be traversed. Again we have to deviate from the route and climb to the top in a different way. Fortunately, this time we manage to reach the Richleti pass in one piece. For the umpteenth time we let ourselves be amazed by the indescribably stunning panorama. Even our camera is completely out of breath …

At the top we eat our picnic among countless colorful flowers. We enjoy the view while we take a little rest, after which we start the descent. It starts pretty steep at first, but after a few kilometers the slope takes on normal proportions again.

We walk past a farm, where we buy home-made Alpine cheese and a bottle of Apfelschorle in a cute self-service hut. The Apfelschorle we drink immediately, while the cheese is stored in our backpack.

The path eventually leads us to a tunnel, which gives us a few kilometers further access to the village of Linthal. We look for a shaded terrace, where we reward ourselves with a fresh Swiss pint. We do some groceries in a local shop and decide to continue for a few kilometers.

Underneath a cable car – which could also bring us to the desired altitude – we take a steeply rising path towards Braunwald. On the more than 600 vertical meters that we still have to climb at the end of this day, I have to grit my teeth. The climb itself is not interesting in terms of views, but the village Braunwald is quite worth the effort. Disciplined as we are, we ignore the numerous catering establishments and continue for another half an hour, until we find a pitch for our tent next to a river just outside the village. With a view of a fairytale waterfall and rough rocks that are left pink-red in the sunset, I heat a can of goulash with some rice on my gas burner. The wine I bought in the Linthal‘s shop actually makes it a real feast. In the tent we play cards. I let Wim win. Five games later, our eyes close almost automatically …

 

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