1.8.2018 - 3.8.2018
Scuol - Lej Nair - S-charl - Fuorcla Sasvenna - Schlinigpass - Rims - Scuol
48KM / 2883M
The heatwave in the Swiss flatlands continues… Despite thunderstorms forecasted for the eastern part of Switzerland, I decide to venture another 3-day/2-night tramp in the region - the Unterengadin to be more precise.
After a slow day at work, I head home, grab my backpack and take the direct train to Scuol. During the 1-hour train ride, the weather deteriorates rapidly and I'm getting dubious about my decision to hike. Luckily, the weather improves the closer I get to Scuol with no raindrop in sight when I start my hike at the train station. However... Never judge a book by its cover! 10 minutes into my journey, the first drops start falling. Out of nowhere it seems. 5 minutes later, it's pouring down. I find meager shelter under a tree, sitting tight and waiting for the downpour to end. Unfortunately, the rain just wouldn't end and after 15 minutes I'm soaked. Since I started walking only at 19:30, the clockhand of my watch already showing 20:15 and still around an hour walk to Lai Nair, I urgently need to decide if I continue or return to the train station. Being someone, who cannot stand turning back, I continue up the hill in heavy rain, lightning strikes all around me. To be honest, I feel uncomfortable by this point: I'm soaked, the lightnings, darkness approaching quickly - and I still have a bit of walking ahead of me. Pacing up the hill, I reach the intended camping area shortly after 21:00. Besides the frequent lightning strikes, it's nearly pitch-black by now, and I have no idea where exactly I am. I pitch my tent at the first flat spot I can make out in the dark, hurrying before the tent's inside gets too wet.
Five minutes later, I'm in a half-decently erected but at least mostly dry tent, wrapped in my sleeping bag, the rain still hitting the tent. Have never experienced a heavy downpour lasting for such a long period. I'm feeling exhausted and soon fall asleep, accompanied by the sound of rain and thunder. I’m only waking up quickly once the bright moon shines through the clouds, lighting up my tent.
I wake up at around 05:00. Everything is damp and as it's slowly but surely getting bright outside, I decide to get out of my sleeping bag and pack my stuff. There's so much moisture in the air, I could leave my tent pitched all day and it would still be damp. So no benefit in waiting.
Before leaving for S-charl, I hang around the lake (I ended up camping around 200 meters away from it) and get rewarded by a spectacular interaction between sun and fog. After all the rain, catching a few rays is heart-balm! A helicopter is passing low over my head. An unusual sight so early in the morning.
A long 30km-day is lying with ahead of me so I leave the lovely lake behind and starting my day with a descent down to wild Clemgia River and up again on the other side to the road leading to S-charl, which I will follow for 8km. I settle in for a comfortable hike, plugging in my earphones. However, I don't get far... After a few minutes I have to stop, my heart skips a beat: The road has vanished overnight. The rain caused a massive landslide. Beside me to construction workers are shaking their heads in disbelief.
Again, I have to make a call: Should I turn around or should I risk to climb over the rocks and continue along the road, not knowing what would expect me further up the narrow valley? Well I guess you already know my decision ;) I continue, being extremely wary though. The road is mostly intact and only washed away at two other places by the river, which is now tame but must have been raging during the night. As I will learn later, a family was trapped in a tunnel along the road during the night. Hence the helicopter, which flew in to rescue them.
Shortly before 10:00, I pass through S-charl, which is cut-off from the main valley. Well, at least not reachable by car. The people in the village all seem a bit confused. For obvious reasons. Even though the village is pretty, I only make a brief break to refill my bottle and continue to Fuorcla Sasvenna. Initially along a 4WD track and once past Alp Sasvenna the track turns into a nice single trail, the sun now shining continuously. It’s an easy hike until I climb the last bit to the pass, which is steep and challenging for my thighs. The pass also marks the border to Italy and halfway poit of today’s hike. I descend on the Italian side to Rifugio Sesvenna. Clouds and people are getting more frequent and after the odd rain shower, I arrive at the busy rifugio. Again, only a quick refill stop and off I am again heading over Schlinigpass. A very unimpressive pass along a well-marched trail. Nothing to enjoy. All the more I'm happy when I leave the trail shortly before Uina Gorge.
I've been walking for straight 27km in 7 hours, making the last climb fairly hard. The steep track up to Lais da Rims is physically challenging but neither difficult nor exposed. I take it slowly, enjoying the views. Shortly before 16:00 after around 9 hours of walking, I reach the lakes. Forecast for tonight predicts again thunderstorms and try to pitch my tent in a sheltered place. Not that easy but I'm happy with the location and also happy to see my tent drying with the last rays of the sun.
Again, it's Couscous for dinner, goats bear company. Surprised to see them at 2700 meters. I retreat into my tent with the first drops. Luckily, the forecast does not come true and it's a quiet, mostly clear night.
The morning is clear, the air again full with moisture. I pack my stuff and climb the last 300 meters to Fuorcla Rims, where the sun greets me. The views are spectacular and for a moment, I'm playing with the thought of climbing Piz Lischana, which is just a stone's throw away. The terrain however, looks fairly steep and slightly out of my comfort zone. Hence, I decide to skip it and start my 1900 metres-descent back to Scuol. Initially it's steep and a bit rough going over scree but the trail eventually gets extremely easy going and I'm in such a good flow, I even run parts of it. With my big backpack and my sandals, I'm catching the attention of the hikers who stayed at nearby Chamanna Lischana. I mostly ignored them, powered down towards Scuol, where I arrive at around before 11:00.
It's been an intense hike. The first day brought me close to my mental limits, the second day close to my physical limits. Nevertheless, that's something I somehow need and also missed after my time on Te Araroa, where days like these were daily routine.