Friday, July 17, 2009

EU trip (Swiss Alps), Day 10

DAY 10

I opened the tent windows to admire nature, light was perfect for photography but I just looked it through my eyes, as I wanted to absorb it as much as possible. I could hear the small stream gushing through the rocks just behind our camp; the water was as clean as it could be. Water coming from the springs and glaciers is such transparent color that you only see it in the mountains, it is, as if it is cleaned by the rocks and the falls. The dew washed up green color to make it brighter, and the clouds started to gather to start a whole day rainfall. The early morning dew washed our tent surface and there were some drops seeped into the tent. What an amazing experience that was to get up in the morning in your tent in the Alps.
Everyone got up one by one and enjoyed the scenery around us.
We got ready and prepared breakfast comprising of eggs, french bread etc. and filled up our stomachs for the long day. The rain started right after that. While coming out of the site we stopped at the small cabin office and checked the forecast, it was not looking good, as rain would only stop the next day afternoon. What could stop us? We had already put on our rains coats and were enjoying the drops falling on them and making a nice sound into our ears like continuous ringing bells. We crossed the river towards the town and then had to make another stop in rain as the train crossing turned red. The train took some time to come, kids enjoyed it more than us as they were standing just next to the crossing and watching the train pass by. Once we came to the station we contemplated our decision of going to Zermatt today, as we wouldn’t be able to see a glimpse of Matterhorn the famous EU Mountain due to the bad weather. It would not be fun to take the cable car to go further into the mountains either when one could not see anything around. Anyhow we decided to stick to our plan and would roam around at Zermatt and surroundings rather then going to the higher altitude. So I bought the train tickets and we hoped onto the next available train, which ran every 20 minutes. The ride was fun and the excitement kept growing for Zermatt.

Once we reached the destination we got to know that Zermatt was a much bigger place than Tasche, so Tasche is being used as a parking lot to go to Zermatt in fact. Zermatt is a car free town and the only transport available there are either horse carts or a few electric taxis but no petrol cars are allowed. Hence there is no pollution and as it is, on the mountains with wooded slopes and glaciers in sight creating such an impressive environment. A wonderful town seems like a fairytale. As soon as we came out of the station, fresh and cool air welcomed us but off course the rain was added in it for the time being. I love rain anyhow and it didn’t bother us a bit, though Waseem was upset about it as he sees clouds and rain year round in the UK. We visited the information desk close to the station and they pointed out a few areas of interest for us to visit.

We started our walk in the rain and really admired the way flowers were hung by the windows and balconies in each and every house and building in the town. The flowers were blooming and were in several colors, one could only imagine such beauty but cant really explain it in words. The main street had shops on either side and it climbed up with a backdrop of mountains. There were nice hotels and restaurants up there. A river dissected the town into two parts. We visited the oldest part of the town dating back to 16th century having small wooden huts still preserved. Shops d├ęcor was nice and we felt like we were on a real mountain village. Window-shopping was a real fun but ended up with some purchases like souvenirs and stuff. For me outdoor stores always attracted me and I took full advantage of the rainy day.
The rain stopped for some time and then we spent a lot of time on the river bridge, from where the Matterhorn could be seen. But no luck for today, we could see most of it but the tip part, but that was good enough site for us.

We wanted to trek for some time so we crossed the town towards the mountains and at the end of the town had a lunch break with the sand witches we were carrying. Not to forget the rain had started again and the clouds were again very thick and low. The walk was pretty flat and not demanding at the moment. We came across a setup where they had the tree climbing, zips and tarzan swings. Children got stuck there so we signed up Iman and Sajeel on the children course first. They were put on with harnesses and started their adventure. I would recommend that to everyone, as it was a very good experience. They really did well and enjoyed it to the maximum. Once they completed one go of their three levels we also wanted to do the adults area. Waseem could not take care of Hassan so my wife had to quit and then Sajeel and myself went for the two hours of adventure; while Iman kept engaged herself for repeat of the levels she had completed. I couldn’t really explain the excitement, as it was a lifetime experience climbing the trees, going through zip chords up to 110 meters long. Rain had somehow stopped for some time for us to enjoy the experience. There were several different kind of obstacles some 20-30 feet or higher from the ground. Some of them went over the water streams and the river. When we completed the whole thing we had a sense of achievement for the day or rather for the trip.
Waseem had ordered some chips n stuff already when we joined them on the outdoor tables. My shoulders and arms were really tired because of the exertion, as we used those muscles in this adventure, which are hardly used in daily life. But it was full time fun and we loved it.

The rain picked up again right after we were done here. We started walking back towards the town. We saw a big group of children learning mountain biking on the way and they were small aged kids and 20-30 in number, it was an interesting sight. We rushed back to the town and started to have more peek into the stores as there was only half an hour left before they close. It was raining very heavy and continuous by now, the clouds were really dark and thunderous. But the environment was really cool and enjoyable. It was getting quite cold by the evening. So we decided to go back to Tasche. Train was in the next 20 minutes so we used the bathrooms there and enjoyed the last sights of Zermatt before saying goodbye.

Once we reached Tasche the rain got even heavier, the clouds even darker as the evening fell in. We walked to the camp and it took us just 10 minutes. But as soon as the kids got into the camp we got to know that there was water gathered under the tent as it was right above a slight depression on the ground but due to very heavy rain the water accumulated under it. The rain had been playing around with us the whole day in a positive manner and it stopped whenever we needed it to be, so we were heard again and the rain gave a 10 minutes break to do what ever we can, in that time frame.

I made a quick decision to move our tent to higher ground though that was also very wet but no water there at least. We put the kids in the car and removed the self-inflatable mats from the camp, dried them and put them into the car too. This commando action took us exactly 10-15 minutes and we were all set up at the new and better location. The rain started yet again. We parked the car closer to the tent and used the tarp to give a shelter in front of the tent for some cooking etc. It was already dark by the time this effort was over. Night was going to be definitely a very cold one. Rain was heavy and continuous. I found some long sticks from the trees to give my shelter some extra strength that worked very well and our kitchen got established under the newly built canopy. It was time to cook some quick food tonight; therefore we decided to make some nice gravy from the tinned chickpeas. Dinner was served with in 30 minutes in the tent and we had already put on the heater to reduce the cold in side. Once everything was done I removed the canopy and put an extra layer on top of the tent to protect from the rain making its way into the tent through seepage. It was an enjoyable dinner. Iman and Hassan were already asleep due to the fatigued day. Everyone’s shoes were wet and cold and I was just using the spare slippers the whole time and now my feet had turned blue but there was yet another trip to the rest room due to call of nature that you don’t have a control on. Night was very interesting and cold and noisy due to rain falling on top.

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