Policemen, marmots and the Milky Way

7. July 2016 | categories: Hiking

It’s Monday, July 4th, 2016 and the calendar shows a new moon – an ideal day to climb the Furka Pass and sleep there. After the alarm clock rang me out of bed at 4:25 a. m., I grabbed my last things and had breakfast, I set off for the train station. 5:37 the suburban train leaves, at 9:25 am I reach Münster. The adventure can begin.

This time I’m not taking the high-altitude trail – I’m going to cover a few more meters of altitude – but the Rottenweg. It is quite flat, so I reach Oberwald after only two hours. On the high trail it’s been five hours.

Shortly after Oberwald the ascent begins. The path goes relatively steeply more or less along the Rohne up to Gletsch. On the way I meet several hikers and there is also one or two conversations – good possibilities to take a break.

When I arrive in Gletsch, I am controlled by two policemen. “Can I see your I. D.?” Do I look criminal because of the new beard? Or do I look like a wanted person? I hand them the passport and have a short conversation with one of the policemen who is interested in my hike. I guess that’s when he realizes that I’m not on drugs – I’m more likely to have a sugar deficiency. The other guy comes back with the I. D. and thinks it’s all good.

Afterwards I get a pancake in the restaurant and an iced tea to recharge my batteries. In the self-service area, a  cyclist from Thurgau is talking to me – he would have seen me when I was starting up – I invites me to sit with them. After a conversation with the two cyclists from Weinfelden – they will drive over the Furka Pass tomorrow – I will continue on my way up to the Furka Pass.

The trail leads along the railroad track of the Furkaberg steam railway up the mountain. At an altitude of just over 2100 metres above sea level the train enters the tunnel and the last steep ascent begins.

Suddenly it whistles wildly on the other side of the stream. A groundhog warns the whole area of me. A short time later I see four marmots running away from me. A little later I reach my day’s destination – the Furka Pass at 2429 meters above sea level. After 24 kilometres and 1100 metres of ascent, I have more than earned the sandwich I brought along.

On the Furka Pass I can take pictures of two Norwegian bikers – with their mobile phones and cameras – that there are really memories on every device. Slowly it slowly calms down on the pass and the sun begins to set.

Before I crawl into the sleeping bag – it is getting colder and colder – I prepare the tripod. At midnight I get up again and photograph the dreamlike starry sky. The Furka Pass is one of the darkest places in Europe and at New Moon you can even see the Milky Way from the naked eye.

About 30 minutes later I have experimented enough with the camera and lay down to sleep.

Tip: The whole area is a dream – if you don’t want to travel 1100 metres above sea level, you can also take the Postbus or the steam train to Gletsch and walk up from there. If you don’t like to walk uphill, you can also go as far as Belvédère – visit the Rhone glacier and then walk for about 30 minutes to the Furka pass. Which is definitely worth the starry sky on the pass. Those who prefer to sleep indoors can also stay overnight on the Furka pass with a motorhome or car and go out at night – that’s what two others did. A Japanese couple in a motorhome and an Aargauer in his car. With a new moon, light pollution is the least – that’s when you see the most stars.