8/22/15 – Epic Day!

Well folks, we did it! M and I both finished the Ultraks 46k. Its actually 50k, and believe me those last 4k could not have been harder had they asked us to just jump off the mountain and land back down in Zermatt. M finished in about 8 hours and 23 minutes for 7th in her age group. I finished in 8:49 which put me at 74th in my age group.

We did over 12,000 feet of climbing and descending. I burned over 6,000 calories. We are both thankful that the highest altitude the race hit was 10,300 feet which made all the climbing a little easier. I estimated that I power hiked 95% of the climbs, as did everyone else. They are just too steep to run up. This fact didn’t really cause me or M to go much slower and we certainly saved a lot of energy for the long miles ahead.

My entire race was saved by a British lady who gave me 4 of her salt tablets when my entire body was going into cramp mode. I only had 2 salt tablets and had already used one because of earlier cramps. I could barely move when she passed me and asked if I needed anything, and miraculously when I said, “salt” she ran back up the hill a little ways to give me some of her supply. That is the spirit of trail running.

A funny thing happened on my way down the last climb which drops over 3,000 feet in 3 miles. There was a particularly muddy section where I decided to slip and fall. I was ok but my legs were so tired it was hard to get up. A German guy right behind me, commented, “Now you look like a trail runner!” as I was covered in mud.

Both M and I are so sore that we could barely even stretch afterward. We plan to take it easy tomorrow.

That is all I can think of for now. Maybe I’ll remember more to write about tomorrow.

8/20/15 – Matterhorn Glacier Express

As promised, our two heroes sallied forth to the Matterhorn Glacier Express gondola, which took them eventually to the top of the Klein Matterhorn. Klein in German means small and indeed the Klein (note from the editor, the spelling of Klein may be a bit off) Matterhorn is shorter than the real Matterhorn.

As noted in earlier posts, our heroine M, is much better at heroics that are closer to the ground, height being a form of Kryptonite. Needless to say, flying over glaciers and up to a tiny point at the very top of a mountain was quite frightening, but being a true heroine, M conquered the beastly tram, filled with the usual monsters known as, “ski teams,” and “crowds”.

Evidently, many of the world’s ski teams train on the glacier because it is open year round and with the recent snow, the conditions were quite marvelous. It was a spectacularly sunny day, but the temperatures at the top were in the high 20’s to low 30’s. Our heroes were quite glad they had warm enough clothes and mittens.

The views of the surrounding 4000m peaks were fantastic and gave a better understanding of what exactly surrounds Zermatt. That is to say it is surrounded by many huge, snow covered mountains. Some of the pictures below will provide a little perspective.

The first picture is of the always impressive Matterhorn, looking towards the Italian side. The second picture, which the camera cannot do justice to, is of our heroes and is also aimed towards Italy. The top of the mountain where the pictures were taken is only a few hundred yards from Italy, which is important to know in case escape from Switzerland is deemed necessary. This writer suspects this fact has nothing to do with geographic location and all to do with being able to say that one skied in 2 different countries in single day.

The third picture is of the ski area on the Italian side and if while viewing the picture the viewer has the capability to enlarge the photo, they will see many skiers on the slopes.

The fourth picture is of a massive peak on the Swiss side called Breithorn and once again, if one has the capability to enlarge the photo, the tiny dots are people hiking up to the top of that peak.

The fifth picture is just for perspective. The peak in the picture is where the tram stops. The viewer cannot see this no matter how much the picture is enlarged because the tram actually goes into the mountain a bit before it stops. In reality it is most likely a hideout for the world’s greatest evil villain, because who else puts a theater, restaurant, shops, bathrooms, access to escape routes, etc., inside the peak of a mountain. Very sneaky. The peak also contains a secret lair, called the Ice Palace which said evil villain has the gaul to charge 8 CHF per person to view. The Ice Palace is located down a secret elevator at least 100 feet into the mountain, and is basically a honeycomb of tunnels with various ice sculptures. Our hero Chris surreptitiously photoed some of these sculptures and hopes to transmit them for study at another time.

While viewing the various sights, our heroes discussed the silly notion that during the winter, a person could ski all the way from the top down to Zermatt. Both heroes agreed that a normal person’s legs would likely fall off before accomplishing that feat however, being as its on the order of 5 or 6 miles straight down.

That concludes today’s episode. Stay tuned tomorrow for more rambling thoughts.

8/19/15 – Adventures in Restauranting

It was a cool, drizzly evening when the Edwards’ began their trek into the unknown. Their journey would lead them into the wilds of Swiss restaurant eating. Their destination was a lovely place on Bahnhofstrasse that combined two restaurants into one building, obviously a Swiss ploy to confuse Americans. One restaurant was called Le Gitan and was located towards the back of the building, while the other was called Zermatterstubli and situated in the front. Zermatterstubli won out because of its simple menu and very casual atmosphere. If one were so inclined they could view each of these restaurants by visiting www.legitan.ch.

Fortunately for the Edwards’, their waitress spoke English as well as they did, and was amazing to watch as she seamlessly switched between German and English depending on the customer. Since our heroes (henceforth known as M and Chris) had not fed in approximately two hours, they were down to their last reserves of physical and mental strength. Digging deep into their last vestiges of strength, they managed to order buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes to begin their much needed meal. Little did they know that the appetizer would set the stage for one of the greatest meals they had ever known. M ordered a salad with chicken and veggies, while Chris selected the exotic, steak and potatoes. Chris likes to live on the edge, always pushing the culinary envelope. Chris’s food came first and being the observant one that he is, he quickly noticed there were no potatoes, though he didn’t say anything right away, hoping there was some easily correctable mishap. M’s salad came next and looked oddly like a salad with chicken. Chris’s tension built as he awaited what had become of his potatoes, when suddenly the waitress came towards the table carrying a large dish. To Chris’s utter delight the dish contained not just his potatoes, but all the potatoes he could eat, straight out of the oven. The waitress scooped out several spoonfuls of potatoes for Chris. These weren’t just ordinary potatoes though, they were covered with cream and cheese!

Meanwhile, M had taken to eating her salad and when questioned by Chris as to its worthiness, she replied that it was fantastic. The chicken was seasoned with something she had never before tasted and that turned out to be Elder flower. As M pointed out, it is rather difficult to make a salad anything special, but the Zermatterstubli had managed it.

Chris declared his steak with garlic butter and potatoes with cream and cheese to be one of the best meals he had ever had and M came to the same conclusion, so they decided to venture into the dessert menu. (Much to Chris’s dismay, he refused second helpings of potatoes in order to “save room for dessert”, which he later realized was just silly and that he had plenty of room for both.)

M quickly decided on the black and white chocolate mousse, while Chris bravely dared the “Hot, Wild berries and vanilla ice cream.” Both desserts were declared excellent and the determination was made to return to the Zermatterstubli as soon as was practical.

That concludes our story time for this evening. Stay tuned tomorrow for the Edwards’s next adventure…THE MATTERHORN GLACIER AND THE SCARY TRAM! (Insert your own dramatic music here.)

8/18/15 – The Bridge!

Today we took a nice easy run (only 1700 feet of gain in 2.5 miles!) up to Furi to check out the swinging bridge which you can see in one of the pictures below. The bridge is about 100 yards long and about 200 feet above the gorge. The actual part you walk on is about 18 inches wide but there are some nice steel cables to hang on to as you venture across. This was unfortunately a bridge too far for M.  I felt awful for her as she tried to give it a go but just couldn’t do it and had to go around over a real bridge. I am not afraid of heights, but I will tell you that this bridge crossing was terrifying and thus no one can be faulted for not wanting to cross it. I am sure it has defeated many a foe.

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8/17/15 – Pictures!

We awoke this morning to unreal views of the Matterhorn.  No those pictures aren’t photoshopped, that really is what it looks like out our windows.  It is an impressive sight and really quite a shocking thing to wake up and see first thing.  M and I both gasped with delight when we saw it in full bloom for the first time.  Obviously today is the first day that the mountain wasn’t covered in clouds.

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8/16/15 – More Learning

Today has turned out to be quite beautiful and we even saw little pieces of what may be the Matterhorn.  We are not sure because the whole thing is still surrounded by clouds.  The parts we have seen are covered with new snow.  One of the webcams, which you can see by googling Zermatt webcams and clicking on the word English in the first option that comes up on Google, shows lots of snow.  We have seen several people headed up with skis!

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8/15/15 – Made It!

Emily and Chris’s epic adventure has begun!  It is Saturday night at 7:38pm here in rainy Zermatt. We got here about 4:30 pm Zermatt time after leaving our house yesterday at 7 am mountain time. Needless to say it has been a long trip. Fortunately we were able to get our upgrade from Dulles to Brussels and as some of you know, business class is the ONLY way to fly overseas. If we can help it, we will not be flying coach again on any overseas (Europe) trips. The huge comfy seats that turn into lay-flat beds are worth the extra money by themselves! What really puts it over the top though is the excellent service you get in what United refers to as their “Premium,” cabins. Your choice of movies, real food, those little warm towels that you wipe your face and hands with…the list goes on.  There was even fancy cheesecake and sorbet after the dinner. I could go on, but I figure you want to know a little about where we are.