Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to the Alpstein Day 3: Rotsteinpass Hütte -> Wasserauen

We get another reasonably early start and are underway by 8:10. It's another day of perfect weather.

The first leg of the day is to follow the Lisengrat to Säntis. Walking this leg in the other direction was a real highlight of our first trip to the Alpstein, even for Greg with his bad knee pain. It's a really nice path along the ridge. At times quite exposed and/or steep, but always very well secured with either steps or cables. Without that extra preparation it would be a real adventure, but even "disarmed" it's quite entertaining.
We're early enough that we don't encounter too many other folks on the ridge itself, but by the time we reach the end we're start to meet groups coming the other way. Onwards we continue to the complex of buildings at the top of the Säntis, which we quickly flee because of the crowds. As we walk through the tunnel to the steep "stairs" leading down the other side, we start to figure that it's early enough that the steps at least should be reasonably free (not enough time for people to have reached the top from the parking lot below). This, unfortunately, turns out not to be the case and we end up taking quite a bit of extra time for the 50 vertical meters of descent since we're constantly having to step aside to let groups coming up pass.

Eventually we hit the saddle and turn off to the right to leave the crowds and descend to the Blau Schnee (not really there anymore where we head down). The nice path leads us down and then across a rock desert to the green and then onwards through the valley. We follow the path to the Schäfler and head through the pass under the Höch Nideri (starting to encounter people again), take a water and snack break in the shade, and then head to the pass under the Öhrli. Onwards, onwards, through the Lötzlisalpsattel, and then along the valley side towards the Schäfler. Unsurprisingly, plenty of people are out and about now enjoying the sunny weather. The last bit is fun to do again: Greg remembers the path being pretty scary (narrow, steep drop to one side, etc.), but that was a long time, and many really narrow paths with steep drops, ago; it's pretty tame now.
At the Schäfler we enjoy a cool beverage in the shade on the terrace (very lucky to find a place) and then are enjoying ourselves so much that we decide to stay for lunch as well. Two hours later we continue on our way down to Ebenalp, passing streams of people heading the other way from the gondola station. Past Ebenalp we start the descent, heading down, through the hermits' cave, past the church cave, past Äscher, and then down towards Wasserauen. The very nice path down is mostly in the woods (yay! shade! it's hot!) and drops us just past the bottom of the gondola station. Quick refreshment break at the fountain that's nearby and then on the last 200m to the train station. In a fit of amazing timing, the train pulls up as we're walking into the station and we end up not having to wait at all.

It was a hot and fairly crowded day, but we had a lot of fun. Definitely a nice wrap up to the weekend.

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