Heights Make Me High: Zermatt Part Quatre

June 30, 2012

Heights Make Me High: Zermatt Part Quatre

June 30, 2012
Posted in: Dogs | Reading Time: 8 minutes

For me, there's nothing more exhilarating than being high. Don't get your panties in a bunch. I mean on a mountain range.

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There's a reason for a four-part blog series on a trip that took only 24 hours. Because it was bar-none my favorite trip since moving to Switzerland. Istanbul, London, Provence, Greece: for me, none compare to hiking in Zermatt. It even gives Venice a run for its vacationing money. My only regret is that we had not done this sooner, but my health kept me from doing anything remotely active last year. I'm just thrilled to finally have had the opportunity to do it, and with my dogs!

We woke up after the previous day's hike with sore muscles.  So while Mr. Wild Dingo took the cracker and criminal on a potty break, I rolled out my aching ass and hips with a gumball machine superball. That's right Internet. Foam rollers and cushy therapy balls are for pansies. Real women use superballs for their aches. (I crack myself up.)  Seriously though, superballs are harder than tennis balls, softer than golf balls and are easy to pop in the suitcase for athletic vacations.

It took a full pot of tea and 20 minutes to work up the courage to start the self-tourturing--- those first few minutes of superball therapy are oh-so-painful. But after 30 minutes my joie-de-vivre returned and I was ready to go climb any mountain.

We narrowed our hike down to two trails that lead up toward the base of the Matterhorn. Both have the option of taking a cable car in either direction (up or down). We chose to hike up and planned to take the cable car down.  Between the two trails, we initially chose a longer, less steep trail that looked more accommodating to letting the dogs romp off-lead. But it was a damn hot day, and after 30 minutes of sun exposure on that trail with no coverage, Juno and Loki were not thrilled so we hiked back down and took the 2nd trail in the forest. The good news was that it was completely covered and had some water. The bad news, it went straight up, with only a few switchback reprieves.

Internet, the Swiss are crazy mo-fo's when it comes to hiking. They don't pussy-foot around their mountain trails. You want to go up a mountain? There's only one way. Vertical.

After another hour of hiking we landed in the middle of no-where in a tiny "hamlet" called Zum See. The aroma wafting through the air was intoxicating to 4 hungry hikers, so we stopped. As you can see, the restaurant even held the attention of the cracker and criminal. I ordered an Ice tea, expecting something like a can Nestea. What I received was the most refreshing, delicious homemade tea with a full-body of a flavor I could not place. And I'm a foodie. The Swiss German waiter explained that the "receep" was guarded and he'd have to kill me if he gave it to me.

For all my bitchin' about Swiss food, lunch at this little restaurant in a tiny hamlet in the middle of a remote mountain range was spectacular.  Hell, I'd climb that damn mountain just to go there again.  Over lunch we pondered how they even received food supplies in this remote area.  Mr. Wild Dingo scoffed as I ordered ice cream for dessert, but I couldn't resist. I had first hand views of all the decadent treats brought to the other tables. And when he tasted my ice cream, he agreed. It was a complex yet simple flavor of something so delicious other than chocolate. My taste buds refused to identify it and the chef refused to reveal it!

We left our lovely hamlet and ventured out on the real climb.

In no time, the climb got steep and I was just a wee bit slow. But I had an excuse: I was carrying all that extra ice cream.

The power walker in me kicked-in and soon enough, Loki and I were in the lead again.

Part way up, another village with a cable car overlooks Zermatt. This was the last time I saw Mr. Wild Dingo in a good mood. Soon enough the single track trails grew steep again and he began to bitch and moan.  Let's just say, he's not into steep climbs on 2 foot wide trails with sharp drop-offs.

I countered with this argument: "Look, it's your idea to spend a week in Paris next month to watch the Tour de France. I have to go with you on that trip. You should just do this since I'm going to go to Paris with you on your trip."  I know Internet. I'm probably the only person in the world who could position a trip to Paris as undesirable and then use it in a marital compromise. I'm just clever like that.

I have to admit, it was amazing. So amazing, I could barely stop and take pictures myself because the steepness was so severe. It was much too dangerous to even consider letting the dogs off lead. I wouldn't even drop his lead to take this shot above.  It was really hot and we were running out of water--though we started with 4 bottles. Even though we were only 30 minutes from our destination (and believe me, that is not a long time), we turned back down the mountain.

On the way down, we found yet another remote restaurant and stopped for a luke warm iced tea and a coke in a glass. Internet, Mr. Wild Dingo can tell you, I never look at prices. I just hand over the plastic. The price of things just isn't a topic that ever interests me. It's a habit that never stops annoying Mr. Wild Dingo. But you had to pick my jaw up off the floor when the waitress told me it was 10 CHF ($10.50 in USD) for those below-average drinks.

Neither of us was looking forward to the 2-hour descent by foot so we headed out to find the cable car in Furi. Our knees would thank us later.

And yes, Internet, I put the cracker on the cable car. And boy, was it was one of the highlights of my trip. Why? Because payback is a bitch and I love to torture the cracker for all the crap he dishes out to us daily. (Oh come on people! There isn't one of you who would take him and all his baggage for a second and you know it.) Besides, confronting his anxiety is good for him.

The poor fella nervously hopped into the moving cable car with me and immediately clutched the metal floor with all 4 paws, crouching as low as he could. Juno hopped in cautiously but no worse for the wear. As the door shut, Loki dove head first into Mr. Wild Dingo's knees.

After the next big bump we were out over the mountain range and Loki decided he wanted to dive his head under the seat and clutch the floor again. Only the entire car is glass and that was what he saw.

Not surprisingly, he was not immediately sold on that idea, so back into my knees he went.

Juno, my brave little girl was happy as a clam. She enjoyed the ride and took in all the beautiful views with awe.

When we were back in Zermatt, a professional photographer stopped us to ask if we'd be staying long in Zermatt. He wanted Juno to participate in a photoshoot. Juno scoffed and refused. She doesn't do "low budget film."  That wasn't the first time on this trip the pupperazzi buzzed around Juno. She has that "je ne sais quoi" that attracts them like flies on, well, you know.

Eventually, Loki's curiosity got the better of him when the ride smoothed out and he and Juno were able to take in some of the prettier views.

He made it out the cable car alive and was back to his crackery loud self in no time. Don't worry Internet, he re-paid me at the train station. His pack drive anxiety took over as Mr. Wild Dingo stepped only 40 feet away to retrieve our luggage. He protested with yaps so loud he drew the attention of everyone, including the Gendarmerie.

So, it's not complicated, Internet. Our relationship? It's all about tit-for-tat.

In all, we hiked 3 hours over 9 miles and climbed 3,880 feet. Check out the trail on Strava.

I said my sad goodbye to the Beautiful Lady Matterhorn. Since I came to Switzerland, Zermatt was the one place high (no pun intended) on my list of things to do.  I'm not sure if we'll get back again this summer or before we leave Switzerland, but I'm not finished here.  My soul needs to, and will, return.

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8 comments on “Heights Make Me High: Zermatt Part Quatre”

  1. Julie, I love your posts, so fun to read. Are you going to hate returning? Your health seems to have really improved and looks like you are having a great time. Do you have to return?

  2. Yep. The Swiss are BAD ASS in the hiking department. Those people are CRAY-ZEE. As for the narrow trails with spectacular drop-offs? When we were in southern Utah, we had a number of hikes that were similar (without the Matterhorn in the background, that is) - when we first went down there, we only had Fi, and I immediately put her in a chest harness - my fear that she might lose her footing (or we might lose ours and knock her off her line) and she'd end up dangling by her trachea. It never happened, but I felt a lot better about having her in a harness, where I could haul her back up without killing her, if need be. But what did Mr. WD think - all the Tour de France 'filler' footage of those hiking trails in the alps weren't exactly on painted backdrops! 😉

    Oh, and going to Paris to see the Tour de France? Yeah. My heart is so breaking for you. I mean, the sacrifices you make... Are you going to bring Loki so he can go greet Cadel Evans on the podium? (How cool would THAT be?!?) Heh.

    At least pictures of the Tour de France won't be as monotonous as all those damn pictures of that silly mountain. 😉

    -Dr. Liz, who is watching the first real stage of the TDF as we speak, and is really NOT feeling your Paris pain.

  3. This was a fantastic vicarious vacation! The air temps here have been between 97 - 104 for the past week. A week ago Friday we had a severe storm that knocked out power to much of the mid-Atlantic US from Ohio thru PA and WV to MD and VA. The D.C. area had 1-1/2 million customers [homes, businesses] without power. We were lucky to get our power back in 24 hours. Some poor people still don't have power a week later and it may not be totally restored until Sunday - that's 10 days, if you're counting and we are. So enjoy CH, enjoy Paris. Eventually you'll be back here where the East is melting and the West is on fire.

    Jed & Abby

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