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Snow Gämel Day and Lizanne Visiting

You had no idea what a snow gämel was, but it was fun. Lizanne came to visit Zürich and you saw the Alps (in her opinion).

Druesberghütte to Weglosen by Snow-Gämel

Saturday's weather with rain and snow seemed unappealing for adventuring outdoors. Since Sunday was booked with visitors coming from out of town there wasn't much choice, so you picked a short snowshoe hike near Weglosen. You managed to animate three people to join, which was nice considering how wet you may all get.

The hike was from Weglosen gondola station to Druesberghütte, and took about two hours. The snow was falling steadily, which quickly covered all the trees in a twenty centimeter layer of powder. Many opportunities were taken to shake them and let a branch-load of snow fall into someone's jacket; there were some particularly well-timed snow dumps.

Druesberghütte
Dreusberghütte

The trail zigzagged up the hill through tree cover, so the way could be navigated without snowshoes. The higher you went, the more snow piled up and the colder/wetter everything became. It wasn't clear if you were sweating yourself wet, or melting snow in your hood.

Druesberghütte was a nicely built, well maintained mountain hut with heating. Everyone banged the snow off their boots and went downstairs to hang up their wet things, before finding a seat in the mess room. After some soup and a chance encounter with one of Meike's workmates, you inquired what a Gämel was. The answer was something like "lots of fun" and "go and try".

Gämel assembly
Gämel assembly

Outside by the huge snow-buggie/quad-tractor/thingy everyone grabbed themselves a single ski bolted to a metal post with a wooden seat on the top — a so called Gämel. It looked as unstable as it did unsafe, but once you got going it was surprisingly easy to control. Far more comfortable than a sled and better in deep snow, the Gämels went shooting down the hill at break-neck speeds. You steered by leaning, much like skiing, and stabilized with your feet. It was a bit of an abs workout to keep your feet elevated in front while whooshing down the mountain.

Someone went shooting off the edge
Someone went shooting off the edge

The ride back took about an hour since there were so many crashes and breaks. At one point Charles and yourself went looking for some deep snow. You directed him off to the right, sending him off the edge and crashing down a deep snow covered slope. Good for a laugh.

Frozen Fingers on Uetliberg

Lizanne flew into Zürich on Sunday on her way back from velodrome sprint racing Canada, where she won bronze. You picked her up (late) from the airport and bummed around home for the rest of the day.

That evening Ania came over for dinner. You made some whole grain pasta with your new Italian pasta machine and it was super-yum. Why have you not been making your own pasta up until now? Thylacine came with Ania and was handed over to Lizanne for his return journey to Australia. He sure gets around.

Uetliberg by bike
Uetliberg by bike

Monday you showed Lizanne through Zürich by bike. You first went up Uetliberg through the forest, where most of the trails were either snow- or ice-covered. It wasn't so simple getting traction on ice, nor was it easy to steer but it was a lot of fun to try. No big accidents on the way up.

The view over Zürich was a bit frosty/hazey but she was happy to see alps — at least her definition of alps. The way back felt less safe; the bike Lizanne rode had some sketchy brakes, which may have caused her small slip. The air rushing by was cold enough to freeze your fingers to the point of numbness. Some thawing was in order, so you had a 5.95chf hand warmer from Starbucks (couldn't really call it a coffee).

Drinking from a fountian
Drinking from a fountain

By the lake there were lots of birds floating about. "The swans are white!" — Lizannes reaction — was the opposite reaction to someone from Europe visiting Australia, with "The swans are black!" By Letter a friendly cyclist suggested you get off your bikes and walk the next part. The was a policemen fining people for riding on the path. Very useful in the middle of winter when almost no one goes there anyway...

The greatest success of the day was hearing Lizanne complain her legs were sore from cycling. Ha! Take that miss power-only athlete!

Maschenkamm to Spitzmeilenhütte Snowshoe Hike

Tuesday you both headed to Flumserberg for a hike. You were a little sad the snow cover was lacking in places but Lizanne seemed happy. This was the third (forth?) time you had hiked to Spitzmeilenhütte. It was the always-safe avalanch-free trail with a moderate length and nice views.

Getting the hang of snowshoes
Getting the hang of snowshoes

Barring the shortcut in the beginning across the steep hillside, it was an uneventful walk to the hut. Along the ridge it was quite windy and the ground had patches of ice. The trodden path had been covered by Triebschnee (blown snow) so you were basically cutting a new path from fluorescent pole to fluorescent pole. Behind you was a group of seniors so you minimum tempo was set by not wanting to be overtaken.

The hut was unmanned but its winter room was open. Even when 'closed' the hut offered eight beds, food, beer, wine and soft drinks, wood for heating and a table with chairs. Once the oldies showed up you headed out again.

Up in the Alps Walking along
Up in the Alps, and walking along

The track the seniors had trodden was compact and easy to walk along. However, it was much more fun to bound down the hill through deep snow. You may have tripped at one point, filling all open crevices with snow. Lizanne was pretty over it — her powerful, non-endurance legs anyway — so you took the gondola from Maschenkamm all the way back down.

That night Andreas and Eve came over for cheese fondue. Lizanne wasn't convinced that a person can become sick of cheese... until about 9pm, when she was quite thoroughly full and the thought of more was too much. Such a great hiking group!