HIKING WITH BARBARA & JOE MOLINA IN THE ENGADIN
Although we have posted several articles on the Grisons in past “Spotlights”, we haven’t had the opportunity to give you a firsthand look. Finally we can, thanks to Joe and Barbara Molina who visited the region last September. They are avid hikers who truly love the Engadin. We’re thrilled that they shared their two-week hiking holiday with us. By the way, be sure to click on the highlighted texts to access the embedded links.
The Grisons are a hiking paradise. With a network of hiking trails covering 580 kilometers (360 miles), hikers can find trails suitable for their level of skill. Some are easily accessible, while others definitely call for experienced mountaineers. The views are all fantastic, albeit, the weather does at times present a challenge. To maximize your visit Joe & Barbara suggest that you contact official tourist agencies, stay at nice hotels, and use local guides for your excursions.
Barbara and Joe kicked off their vacation in Guarda, one of the most beautiful villages of the Lower Engadin with its beautiful houses with their “sgraffito” decorated walls. The Meisser Hotel where they lodged is the perfect setting to get you in the mood for a fantastic holiday as was the next stop in Pontresina at the Albris Hotel. They took advantage of the free passes provided by the hotel for a free gondola-ride to the Diavolezza (She-devil) with its beautiful views of the Pers and Morteratsch glaciers & the Eastern Swiss Alps. According to a local legend, hunters were often enticed by a beautiful, flame-haired mountain nymph bathing in the lake, only to disappear and never to be seen again- hence the name.
One of Molinas’ goals on this trip was to see a heard of Alpine Ibex, Kings of the Mountains. The Ibex known as Steinbock in German is the Canton’s heraldic symbol and if you want to see them, Val Languard above Pontresina is the home of about 1,800 of these striking animals. Joe and Barbara after a really steep & scary climb were rewarded with their first view of a large heard of Ibex. They climbed some more where they viewed and got close to more and glimpses of a family of marmots. We learned from Joe that Swiss Ibex were almost hunted to extinction in the 1900s. Fortunately the Italian King Vittorio Emanuele III had smuggled a number of Ibex to Italy to establish a heard in his country. In turn, years later two Swiss game wardens stole breeding Ibex from Italy, repatriated them to their original home. All of the Ibex living in the Swiss Alps today are descendants of these beautiful animals.
In the following days, Joe & Barbara hiked along one stage of the long-distance Via Engiadina trail, visiting Sils Maria, the gate to the romantic Fex Valley with its great views over Lake Sils, Soglio, & Scuol. We visited this area with you in previous “Spotlights” in our trip along the Inn River. There is much more to tell you about their hiking vacation. We suggest when you next see them to ask them about the link the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had to the region and of course Shirley Temple in the Heidi film.
Check out the imbedded Videos by clicking on the highlighted links above, & click on these pics.