Sunday, January 12, 2014

Matterhorn - Monte Cervino

Materhorn - Monte Cervino

Spectacular Switzerland! This alpine country in central Europe is stunningly beautiful. Sheer cliffs and deep gorges define the landscape while meticulous attention to detail define the character of its people and Swiss society. It's a clean and orderly place, a pleasure to enjoy.

Among the many mountains that make up the Alps, majestic Matterhorn is a national landmark and an international icon. It is also known as Monte Cervino and Mont Cervin. Kudos to the Swiss for keeping it pristine while accessible. The secret to the area's unspoiled appearance is that cars are off limit for miles around. The best way to experience the peak's stark glory is to drive to Taesch from which only rail is available to the next town. The train from Taesch to Zermatt is modern but from Zermatt to the last stop in Gornergrat the train is vintage open air cogwheel rail.  All trains are electric, clean, and quiet.

Breakfast At Gornergrat
Once in Gornergrat the view, if not clouded over, is spellbinding. This is the final destination for most everyone. The vast majority board the train back to Zermat after enjoying the restaurant at the top of the world, or simply taking in the fantastic view.

Matterhorn Zen Duckies
At this elevation glaciers flow at their geological speed undisturbed by rumors of global warming while man-made duckies are erected and torn down at the relative speed of lightning. Like in a giant Japanese garden with sculptures witnessing the passage of time these zen duckies partake in the ebb and flow of the ages.

Alpine Cross

Wandering further afield away from this small outpost of civilization reveals a rugged, untamed terrain. The occasional sign of man seems like a futile imposition on a cold, foreign world. A lonely alpine cross, for example, looks more like a forlorn attempt than a symbol of redemption, its incongruous setting a surreal expression of humanity.

It's not an entirely hostile environment and in spite of the thin air and cold rock life has a foothold here, however precarious.

Alpine Flower
Yellow alpine flowers bloom impossibly out of the crushed granite.

Blue Flowers of Matterhorn
Blue flower accents punctuate the alpine landscape against exhilarating backdrops while snow blankets distant mountains with pure white clouds floating around in a piercing blue sky.

Matterhorn Ruin

Traces of failed attempts at domesticating this otherwise pristine environment crop up along the trail down to the next train station. On a fine day some may meander station to station ever mindful that the weather may change in an instant. Hiking is moderately hard and an abandoned stone structure, now partially standing in ruins, attests to a difficult land with one rock wall still holding a window into the alps.

Window Into the Alps

Those brave and optimistic souls who know the area venture to fish the few glacial lakes that pool along the way, if not for catching fish, then for experiencing a quiet, peaceful afternoon.

Fishing Lake Matterhorn

It is these lakes gracing monumental mountains with their soft reflection and reassurance of life that make hiking the Alps an inclusive, hospitable experience. The next train stop, though far, is a welcome bittersweet gateway from wilderness back to civilization.

Lakeside Matterhorn

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