Or almost. July 30th saw the first walk since the return to Switzerland. The intention was to walk a section of the 'Weg der Schweiz', from Flüelen, at the far end of the lake, to Morschach. A total failure! Not our fault - a landslide had completely blocked the path. Oh well, a section along the road it would have to be....... except that was closed too. No choice but to trudge back to Flüelen and find a Plan B, which ended up being getting a bus to Morschach via Brunnen. But the pizza I had been looking forward to was not forthcoming: it was too late for lunch, too early for evening meal, and the restaurant was closed. The two others in the village were also closed (one permanently.) By now we were both getting very grumpy, as well as hungry and thirsty, but finally we struck lucky: the restaurant at the spa was open, so we fell on the picked-over buffet like locusts, and good humour was restored by a beer. Walked back down to Brunnen afterwards, and ended up with a piecemeal 10.5 kms to show for our day.
Two days later, train to Nottwil, and a round walk with Buttisholz as its furthest point. Once more there was a problem finding something to eat, as both restaurants were closed. We resigned ourselves to going hungry, when I spotted a kebab house. Not quite what I'd had in mind, but at that point I was grateful for anything. Despite its unpromising appearance, it was a real find. The owner, who was dozing on a bench when we walked in, said he could do us a pizza if we preferred. I thought it would be some defrosted cardboard one....... but no, it was freshly made, and really good. Moral: don't judge a book by its cover! Back in Nottwil, we caught the last half hour of a para-meeting at the sports centre (Nottwil has a big paraplegic centre, and often hosts sports events) before getting the train home. 16 kms, with the usual helping of hills.
The next one began with a bus to Beckenried, and a walk along the lake. Then reaching the Risletenschlucht, a deep gorge, the path went up, past thundering waterfalls and rock faces dripping with moss. Even in tight serpentine zigzags, it was ferociously steep, climbing 300m in little over a km. Emerging from the gloom into dazzling sunlight again, we headed along the road to Emmetten. We had planned something different, but spotting a cablecar I'd never been on, I decided we should do that instead. So up we floated to Niederbauen, walked around, watched paragliders taking off, bought some cheese from a mountain dairy, and floated down again. Along the road to the centre of Emmetten, and bus home again. 13ish kms in all.
Then there was the annual 'find something to go up for free on your birthday' excursion, the choice falling this year on Schilthorn, of James Bond fame. (Even the toilets were labelled 'Bonds' and 'Bond Girls'.) It didn't involve much walking, as the paths were blocked by snow, and it was literally freezing, but we could admire the changing panorama of mountains over a meal in the revolving restaurant (you must think I do nothing but eat!), and challenge our nerves on the walkway along a sheer cliff face at Birg on the way down. A walk around Mürren, where we were lucky enough to see a herd of chamois, and another along the river at Interlaken while waiting for the train home accrued most of the day's meagre mileage.
I was back there (Interlaken, not Schilthorn) a week later to meet up with a distant relative I'd contacted through family history, who was on holiday in Wengen. We'd never met before, but I had a very pleasant afternoon with him and his wife. I suggested going up in the cablecar to Männlichen and walking some of the Panorama Way. The view was intermittent (too cloudy), but they liked the alpine flowers, and we encountered an Alpine Salamander, which I was able to coax off the path with a bit of gentle prodding. I ran a couple of times in the intervening week, but nothing worth writing about. Ditto the following week. By now I was vaguely considering the idea of a mountain marathon in late October, and trying to up the ante a bit, distance-wise, so 19th August saw me embark on a solo 'long run': St Niklausen, tower, Stations of the Cross, Horw peninsula the other way round to usual (it seemed harder this way), past the retirement home and the house with the 'Kaffee ist parat' ('the coffee is ready') sign on the door - I sometimes wonder what reaction I'd get if I rang the bell and asked for some! - and into the woods; up the main track, round various paths, still navigating fallen trees........ and then it rained, and I was getting cold, so called it a day and headed home. 16 kms planned, 15.55 done, and nearly 400m of ascent.
The long run was originally pencilled in for the previous day, which turned out to be a scorcher, so it was commuted to a walk. We went up to Sonnenberg and walked the length of it, trying to stay in the shade. The Wolfsschlucht, a narrow gorge, was wonderful, like something out of 'The Land that Time Forgot', cool and shadowy, full of ferns; I half expected to see dinosaurs! Up the 215 steps at the end of it, path down almost to Renggloch (another gorge), then another 357 steps up past the old coalmine shafts, and back through the woods and a well-earned drink at Schwyzerhüsli, before walking back down to Luzern. 10.8 kms altogether.
Next up was another Zuger Trophy run, the 5th of the series, at Menzingen. Another hilly one, and some 14 kms long, plus another 2 kms walking to and from the start. Km 11 produced the best pace, 5:46/km, followed by km 13, 6:06 (both of these on somewhat more downhill sections, admittedly.)
On what was possibly the hottest day of the whole year, Allmend held a 'Discovery Day', with stands informing about various wildlife, history, etc. It was interesting, but I think the most popular stand of all was the one selling cold drinks! (More palatable than the acorn coffee I sampled at one of the others!) The whole round, plus walking there and back, notched up 9 kms and about a gallon of sweat.
Only one more outing meriting a mention: the usual 2 rounds of the Horw peninsula. It was neither very long nor very fast, but sometimes that just isn't the point. My notes read 'Still very warm, even this late. Lovely pearly light. Highland cow kindergarten. Friendly cat. Swallows' nests.' Sometimes things like that just matter more.
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