Sunday, June 24, 2012

More of the ridge between Engelbergertal and Melchtal:

We've already done hikes at the beginning and very end of the ridge that divides the Engelbergertal from the Melchtal. Today is some more of the middle, planned using the book that I'll call "More difficult hikes in central Switzerland".

We start in Melchtal at Eistlibach (which really does seem like an unlikely place to start a hike), we head up, up, up through the woods along a clear, but unmarked trail. It's pretty good going, mostly sheltered, up until Unter Lachen, where we hit an area where there have been too many cows running around after heavy rain: lots of mud, very uneven, etc. After some fun finding our way across the barbed wire (seems the farmer didn't bother to keep the trail open), it's up some more, still with lots of cow damage to Chli Stalden and then further along the road (yay! level footing!). At Vorder Stalden, up we head again (more cow damage! grr!) to the Laihuette and then the nice hiking trail the last bit of the way to the Storegg (this is where we ended our first hike here). Time for a sandwich break and then off we head along the ridge.

We immediately make a mistake here by setting our expectations for what "traces of a path" too low and end up a fair ways under the real path. After a rather entertaining traverse of a quite steep grass slope in the trees, we make our way back uphill to the real trail (definitely more than a trace) and continue along the ridge. Along the Lachengrätli, then up again until we hit the Chrüzibödmer were we do another quick break and enjoy the views (you can see the Petersgrat from here!)  before continuing to the trickiest bit of the ridge: at Wagenleis there's a section that requires some scrambling. It's pretty steep and narrow, but there are chains and cables and even a few iron steps added to make it passable. Not too bad, but it wouldn't be much fun in the rain or if the ridge is crowded. Further on we go, over the Schluchberg (too many sheep up here: it stinks!) , then into the bowl above Laucheren. Another navigational mistake (reading the book instead of looking at the map) leads us steeply up to the Schingrat, but there's no way down from there that Greg is willing to undertake. Back into the bowl, then along the path under the Schingrat to the saddle under the Gräfimattstand. Along the broad ridge (once again seriously cow damaged), then up to the Gräfimattnollen, where we eat our last sandwiches and enjoy the views for a while. Down, down we go to the pass at Vorder Rossboden, then down into the Engelbergertal towards Wirzweli. The Schellenfluealp has a couple picnic tables set up, so we stop for a cool beverage (and a very "urchig" experience) before heading on.

We've done a lot of height change already, and Greg's knee is bothering him, so at Egg we take the (very basic) gondola down to Lang Boden and then walk to Wirzweli for the gondola down to Dallenwil.

There's just one more, not particularly long, day to finish this ridge by doing the Arvigrat and heading up to the Stanserhorn.
Guess where the gondola ride is ;-)

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