Day 6... our blowout day... leave everything on the mountain was the plan. We had originally planned to walk the Europaweg and cross the Hängebrücke (suspension bridge) but the heavy winter snowfall was lingering and the impassable high paths prevented us from completing our original plan. Day 3 had seen us trek up a part of the Europaweg including some very dodgy cliff hanging steps. Today we would attempt to get up to the bridge... not knowing if the way would be blocked or the bridge shut.
We set off full of optimism... our aching muscles now used to being beaten into submission.. at least until we reached the turnoff for the alternate bridge path. To say it was steep would be underplaying it. We discovered that the path without rocks was worse than that with as it stretched the achilles to breaking point. It was difficult to take any rest as you would inevitably be standing on an incline with all weight bearing down on one ankle joint.
Up and up the path wound without respite for what seemed like hours. But as we looked back we realised how high we had gone in a very short mileage. It wasnt that we were incredibly unfit... the path was just that tough.
We reached a place called Kreuz... called thus because of the huge cross standing on the top of a point. Assumably it had been helicoptered in ... either that or chapeau to the chaps/chapesses that had hauled it up.
We stopped there ... on a grassy slope to eat lunch. Frankly it was one of the most picturesque lunch stops ever. The sun was beating down... the wild alpine flowers were just coming into bloom and from our vantage point we had access to many of the bigger peaks... hidden from view lower down. Particularly fascinating were the mounds of glacial ice which looked poised to topple.
However the walk wasnt going to walk itself... so somewhat reluctantly we left the idyllic and back to the hellish steep climb. Every bend promised a flatter path but didnt deliver. We encountered our first walkers.... who whilst bounding downwards... as opposed to us crawling upwards... informed us that the bridge was open and the other side was steeper. Great! It put a spring in my step for the next 10 steps before my poor overworked legs screamed enough and settled back into the plod of before. Eventually we reached the top and a signpost to the bridge... 30 minutes.
As we were walking I kept an eye on my altimeter and mileage... watching one speed upwards whilst the other ticked slowly.
We reached a hut ... and then 10 mins later were standing at the bridge.
For the record ... and to explain why it hurt so much...
We had climbed 2100ft in just about 3 miles.
Thats an average gradient of roughly 35%. (Feel free to correct if wrong... the maths was done whilst body and mind was under duress)
We stared at the bridge... it was pretty high. Worse than that... it swayed with the wind...
Worse than that was the sign informing that 30% ish of the bridge had been built from materials from the old bridge.... Great... just Great!
Worse than that was the fact that the floor was grated and not solid and therefore provided a fantastic view down to the ravine below.
All in all it looked pretty scary!
We edged out... ladies were deffo not going first in this instance...
Hands were firmly on the railings on either side.
'Dont look down' said Paul... which meant we instantly did.
The further towards the middle of the bridge the more it swayed with us walking across. Add to that the wind which gusted more and more the further away from the protective mountain we got.
The photos taken in the middle of the bridge were taken with a little reluctance... hands off railings... dont drop the phone... dont move around too much... you get the gist!
Once the obligatory photos were taken... we hotfooted (slowly walked to avoid swaying) it across the rest of the bridge... hitting terra firma with a sigh of relief.
Hopefully the way downwards was clear because there was no way we were going back across that bridge!
The way down was marked as a blue alpine route which generally means narrower paths... even steeper gradient and more rocky terrain...and it didnt disappoint. About halfway down it was the knees that were crying enough and we longed for a bit of uphill. (Oh the irony)
Once we got back into Randa... we took the longer... wood walk... which included some uphill ... just to finish us off. We had come full circle today and ticked off another of our objectives. It was a fitting way to bring a close to this holiday.
We both kinda grew up in Switzerland and leaving it does sorta feel like leaving home.
With one more night in our extremely uncomfortable tent to ensure all muscles seize up... the journey home tomorrow will be a long one. We have a plan to break it up though.
You have to leave somewhere in order to come back and one adventure has to end so that another may begin... but it would be nice to stay in the Swiss bubble a little longer!