Sunday, May 26, 2019

Not the most efficient way to get from Grandval to Gaensbrunnen

Snow conditions in the higher mountains are still a bit dodgy, so we took advantage of Sunday's nice weather by doing some more Jura hiking.

We started in Grandval underneath the hochnebel and then headed up, up, up, mostly along a forest road, through the fog (with very cool light as we got towards the top of it) and eventually up to the broad flat top of Mont Raimeaux. We'd thought that the route between the two Combes above the climbing area would be dramatic, but that didn't quite pan out thanks at least partially to the fog. Up top we put on sunscreen and enjoy the stroll to the peak with its tower; we've been here a couple of times before. We enjoy the views, have a snack in the sun at the picnic tables (g: "too bad we don't have cards with us, we could hang out here and enjoy the sun for a while!") before continuing on our way.

The trail takes us easily along the ridge and then we descend a bit to Raimeux de Cremines. Just past that we take take a break to have some lunch at the view point (plenty of people starting to gather at these picnic tables). A bit more along the edge of the cliff and then we head steeply down into the gorge (Le Gore Virat). This isn't particularly long, but it's really nice (and popular, plenty of people coming up the gorge). Amazing that we haven't been here before.

Back down in Corcelles we decide to continue on for at least one more ridge. The forest road takes us out of town towards the Zoo, but we turn off onto another forest road before getting there and start a long, gentle (and very enjoyable) climb up to the next ridge. Up towards the top we see the first other hikers we've seen since the gorge. Along the ridge a bit and then we start the long descent down, down to Gänsbrunnen. As town comes into view we realize that we can theoretically catch the next train (we hadn't thought we'd be able to do that), so we end up jogging for about the last km. We get to the station with a couple of minutes to spare and are back in Basel in time to enjoy cocktails on the balcony. Nothing wrong with that. :-)

This was a nice day of walking. Note for future reference: with the exception of the bit through the gorge this would be a nice run. There's a longer descent from Raimeux to Corcelles that stays on the ridge longer and that could be a good alternative. There's at least one fountain in Corcelles, so refilling water is also easy.

Stats: 20.5km, 1375m up, 1275m down.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

From Sargans to the Gonzen via the Follaplatte

The forecast called for the weather to be better in the East, and the snow situation is still not really great, so we decided to head up to the Gonzen via the Follaplatte again. We did this a couple of years ago in the fall and really enjoyed the tour but didn't end up making it all the way to the peak since the wind was pretty bad. Uh, and I didn't ever get around to actually writing the blog post... we just have pictures.
The Gonzen as seen from Sargans
After a bit through town, the ascent starts. Past the old Schloss, up past some houses, through the fields and past more farm buildings, up, up into the woods where we pick up a forest road. Then up, up, up in zig zags until we get to the fork at Cholplatz. From here we follow the unmarked (though easy to follow) path to the left. We don't do a great job of finding the path (early season isn't super easy) towards the end, but we make it to the slabs easily enough. We again take a somewhat sub-optimal route through the slabs (yay for the approach shoes!) and hit the actual "trail" just before the rope that marks the beginning of the ascent to the wooded shoulder. Short food break here to enjoy the views, and then up, up the last bit to the shoulder. Up the shoulder, around the corner, and then through the couloir to the "cave" formed by a few massive boulders. There's tons of super loose stuff in here (it's early season) and a bit wet in a couple of places, so the last bit is sketchier than last time. Through the "cave" and up the last bit to the saddle.
across the Follaplatten

through the cave
Last time we had the feeling that we didn't do this quite right, so this time we've read a good description on Hikr and feel prepared to be able to find the "intended" route. This immediately starts off with a bit of challenge since there are a couple of trees down across the saddle, adding fun to get through the saddle and definitely wiping out whatever use trail might have been there. Ah well. We carefully make our way down the steep other side (this is also a bit sketchy) until we hit a short flat stretch and then start traversing the face. For future reference: a right thing to do here is to head down to that flat bit (pretty visible from the saddle), and then to traverse to the bottom of the rocky ridge that comes down from the right. There's a trail (and the first marking that we saw) that's pretty easy to locate here. Now we follow the trail more or less next to the rock, past a small cave, always climbing. There are a couple of snow-filled gullies to cross, but we did think to bring trekking poles with us and the snow is soft, so these aren't too dramatic. The final gully to the ridge is full of snow, so we opt to continue along (as we did last time) until we come out of the woods into a field (the building at Folla is now visible). From here it's up to the ridge that leads to the Gonzen itself. This has a somewhat surprising amount of snow on it (shouldn't be that surprising really... it's the North ridge), but it's no problem to follow to the peak, which happily doesn't have any snow on it. After a nice lunch break enjoying the views, we head back down the ridge to Folla and then follow the tracks through the snow down to Rieterhütten. Quick conversation with a trail runner here (he's not thrilled about the idea of heading through that much snow to the peak, so he turns around), then down, down, down until the blue-white trail towards the ladders turns off.
lots of snow on the ridge to the top
There's plenty of snow visible in the woods down here (North side... makes sense), but we figure we can always turn back if it gets too dodgy, so we head off along the lovely path to the ladders. There is some snow in here, but it's really not bad and by the time we get down to the ladders themselves it's all clear. More lovely walking (it is a nice path) takes use back to Cholplatz and the path back down to Sargans.
down the ladders
This is quite a nice tour to a peak with great views that's also a good training tour. It's worth keeping the snow in mind for future trips.

Stats: 16.4km, ~1500m up and down

Monday, May 13, 2019

Spring hiking: Ridges between Olten->Waldenburg

Today was a day of Flües. It's been raining, so we don't want to do anything too tricky, but it's not supposed to rain today. We haven't really done much hiking this year yet, so part of the idea is that this should be something of a training tour. To that end Greg tosses a couple of ropes into his pack to add some additional weight; Andrea's not playing that game. :-)

We start in Olten (first hike started from there) and head through town and onto the path up up to Trimbach and then further to the Rumpelflüe. The nice path through the woods takes us along the ridge, past the restaurant at Rumpel (Greg has loads of fun with this name), under the Rumpelhöchi, and then up, up to the Naturefreundehaus (I'm sure there are awesome views from here on days when the viewing is good). Not too long after that we leave the marked hiking path and follow a use path up onto the ridge (there's a bit of very, very light scrambling here). Now we've got a very nice ridge walk above the Hornflue, with great views, a few chamois (don't think we've seen those in the Jura before), including one really curious one who lets us get quite close and seems as fascinated by us as we are by him. Past the Homberglücke and then back up onto the ridge for another good bit until we start to descend. Before heading down too far, we stop and have a food break. This is cut short when it starts to lightly rain. Ah well, we pack up and head on and the rain stops in a couple of minutes. The descent along the ridge down, down to the road gets pretty steep at the end, but is no real problem (still, it's good to have shoes with stiff soles).
along the Rumpelflue
After following the road for a bit we pick up the path towards Hägendorf, which we follow for a bit before turning off towards Allerheiligenberg. Here we're looking for a bit of ladder/short klettersteig to get us up past the wall of the Burgerrain. We just have a couple Hikr descriptions and some not particularly useful GPS points, and there's not much of a use trail, so this takes a bit of looking to find. Greg takes a picture or two and marks it on his watch, just so we have the GPS point (but it's plainly visible on the track below). Up the ladder and then along the ridge of the Burgerrain. This is another really nice path that's also clearly not used all that often. We find a nice spot during a bit of sun and sit down for another food break. The sun is gone within 3 minutes of us sitting down and a few minutes after that it starts to very lightly sprinkle and then hail. Hail! We pack up and continue on; the hail stops within a couple minutes (starting to detect a theme here). We continue along the lovely ridge until we get to the end and descend (not as steeply this time) to the road. Here we pick up another trail that takes us down into the Oberi Schlucht (this is the end of the Teufelsschlucht, which we've done before). After a bit of the lovely gorge we head up towards Rüteli, further on through the open valley to Bärenwil, and then along and around the corner to Langenbruck. There's a bus waiting there, but we opt not to take it. 3 minutes after the bus leaves, and a minute after we sit down for a snack, it starts raining (!). Fortunately there's a bench under cover, so we can have our break without getting rained on and by the time we're done the rain has stopped.
in the Oberi Schlucht
After the break we head through Langenbruck and then briefly along the road to Oberer Hauenstein, where we  pick up the trail towards Waldenburg. This ends up being a really nice mix of panorama and forest and river until we get to town. Through town we go, Waldenburg is longer than we remember, and we get to the train station about a minute after the train has left. Ah well... we grab hot beverages from the kiosk and wait half an hour for the next one.
Aside from the "amusing" weather, this was a really nice day out. Super varied hiking and a nice line on the map. :-)

Stats: ~22km, ~900m up, ~400m down