Wednesday, September 10 – low level hike from Saanen to Gstaad to Gsteig

Overcast on and off, sunny then cold and overcast, rain at the very end

Hiking today we wore long sleeved t-shirts and jeans, needed sweatshirts sometimes, polartec vests needed after the hike.

Hit the trails by the crack of 12:45pm! Okay, okay – we are giving new meaning to SLOW! But we did a wonderful hike. Because it was overcast and because we got a late start, we did a low level hike today (meaning we did not take any mountain rides to the trails). Right from our apartment, we walk to Gstaad (30 minutes) – part on a quiet side road, part on a lovely trail along the river. From Gstaad we follow that river all the way up the valley to Gsteig. It is only slightly uphill (a total gain of 120 meters). The hike was 2.5 hours from Gstaad (so 3 hours in total). The trail follows quiet side roads, or trails along the river or trails through farmer’s fields.

Sometimes when we are hiking, the trail takes you right by a house. Someday, I am sure, the hiking guide will read: “Follow the trail in through the front door, left at the kitchen, then out the back door.”

Years and years ago (1988) we hiked in this area and were “attacked” by two male cows. We were in the middle of a big field full of cows, but these two guys up on the hill were snorting and tail switching and watching us. Very different from all the female milk cows who eat grass and occassionally look up when you walk by. These guys started running down the hill straight for us. There was nothing we could do. We were too far from the fence to make a run for it, so we stood our ground and stared right at them. They ran to within a foot of us and then each veered off – one to the left, one to the right. I was shaking! We hoofed it out of that field.

I think of those guys when hiking here.

Today’s hike took us through many fields of cows, through lovely woods and up high into the meadows full of little flowers. We had lovely views of the big mountains behind Gsteig.

We needed to make the 16:07 bus from Gsteig to get to Gstaad in time for our 17:00 webcam date. We got to Gsteig with time enough for a coffee at a cafĂ© and then hopped on the bus. We did not have Easy Access passes today – the bus ride was 6.60 CHF each (the Easy Access pass is 9.50 CHF per day).

In Gstaad, we got the paper then went to the tourist office to buy Easy Access passes for our last four days (I have the hikes all planned out) and to tell them we were going to stand in front of their webcam with a banner. Swiss people never seem to get very excited or interested in things that we tell them (well, not just Swiss people). I gave them a few SlowTrav cars. She went and talked to the computer guy and he said the webcam refreshes every 15 minutes.

So we went and stood at the spot Chris figured would be best. We held up our banner and Chris phoned on the cell phone. We talked while we stood there and she watched the webcam. It updated in a few minutes. We could see people looking at us from the tourist office window beside the webcam. It updated a few more times in the next 15 minutes – so I think they were helping us out. You cannot tell if it is taking a photo – we only knew because Chris would tell us. I knew not many SlowTrav people would be watching – because it is not as exciting as the Sorrento webcam. But it was fun – although we felt pretty stupid standing there with our banner. As soon as Chris said she had a shot of us, Steve wanted to put the banner away. I convinced him to stand there for longer – and we did hold up the banner one more time – but by 5pm it was getting really cold and we had been standing there for 10 minutes, so we left.

Picked up some rolls at the bakery to eat on the way home. They have these bread-like pretzel things cut in half and spread with butter. We got them and a whole wheat croissant (gipfel). Ate them as we walked home (30 minutes). It started pouring rain for the last 10 minutes, but we had our raincoats in our packs.

Our packs were heavy for this walk – a quart of water each, rain coats, polartec vests, polartec sweaters – doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up! This is probably the reason we are so tired (hiking with that extra 10 pounds).

This morning I checked our voice mail and there was a message from a writer at the New York Times!! Be still my heart!! She left a number, but I could not make out her name or what she wanted. I called her after the hike and we talked. She was writing an answer about hiking in Tuscany for the travel Q&A column and had found SlowTrav, then found the mention of us in the recent NY Times. We talked about hiking in Tuscany (I think it is possible, but is better in Switzerland and England). She said the column will be in the Sunday, September 28 edition (but may get pushed back). I tried to convince her to visit the message board, but she said the column had to be done in a couple of days and she didn’t have the time.

Still, another mention in the NY Times!! And, hopefully, another link from the NY Times web site to us!!

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.