September 20, 2007

Dispatch from Zinal

Breakfast at the Cabane de Moiry was particularly sad: dry bread and jam, warm, instant coffee, and that's all. I headed down, getting fresh water at a stream nearby (no cows above me on the ice or the peaks) and made the dramatic descent to the moraine.

The morning's walk was in the shade (as has been the pattern), and traversed along the steep, meadowed slopes above the Lac de Moiry for a couple of hours. A most delightful couple of hours it was, too, with huge views back to the icefall, north as far as the Berner Oberland, and down to the Lac de Moiry, which is a wonderful shade of blue. The Australians reported chamois, too, though I didn't see them.

All five of us sort of leapfrogged our way up to the Col de Sorebois, from which we entered the Val d'Zinal. It was an interesting transition from the wildness of the Val d'Moiry (though there was a dam and parking lot) to the heavy tourist use of this side. Zinal has a cable car up to Sorebois, which is near the pass we had just topped, so there lots of people on the trail, including a couple of Americans, up for the day.

The trip down from the pass, into Zinal, started with a walk under the chairlifts (not operating) and more cows to Sorebois, the terminus of the cable car. There's a big restaurant there, with a sunny terrace and spectacular views, so it was teeming. I took advantage of the bathrooms, snapped a couple of photos, and headed down.

The trail down was a nice walk back into treeline and I was soon in Zinal, which is a hopping little place. There are a bunch of nice-looking hotels, the giant cable car facility, two sport shops, two groceries, and lots of old-style buildings, too. The town is crawling with walkers, hikers, climbers, and general vacationers. Not only that, it's jingling-jangling with cows.

It's the season for the cows to come down from the high meadows. As I walked into town, I passed a small herd penned in some grass on the river, just below the tennis courts. A little while later, they were herded up the river, in a procession, to a meadow up at the upper end of town (where my auberge is). Right now, I'm surrounded by clanking and clanging bells, as they have moved to a big field right next door.

I met Glyn and Elena here at the Auberge Alpina. They were here when I arrived, because they rode the cable car down from Sorebois. The Australians are in town, too, more toward the center. The talk is of the change in weather due tomorrow evening, with rain forecast for the next day (my day 12). We'll see.

This town is in a deep valley, so it's hard to see them all, but is surrounded by huge, glaciated peaks. That's one reason there are so many walkers around here. You can see the Zinalthorn from here at the auberge.

Dinner was good, starting with a thick carrot soup, followed by a large, creamy lasagne, and finished by an apple tart. And, of course, a couple of glasses of wine.

Sept. 16 from Auberge Alpina, Zinal, Switzerland: map, 1675m; accum. 121 km, 7628m gain, 6990m loss (5495'; accum. 75.2 mi, 25,026', 22,933')

Updated for spelling, links, and photos on 11/17.

Link to photo album

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