Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Some Kinda Sign

I mentioned yesterday that winter hiking trails in Switzerland are well signposted. Not only are they well signposted, but the signs themselves offer a wealth of information regarding the trail.

Take this sign for example. It informs us that we have a number of winter hiking options at our disposal. We can turn right and head toward the village of Ftan, left toward Sent, or back down to the village of Scuol, the starting point of our tour. Today we're heading toward Sent, so left is the way to go.

We can also read from the sign that our particular Winterwanderweg is going to take about 4 hours, (240 minutes). That's straight walking time without breaks.

The Swiss measure walking distances on a time scale, and they base their times on the fitness level of the majority of hikers that use the trail. Therefore, flat and easy valley paths typically offer generous times because they attract families and tourists. Times for mountain trails tend to be less generous because they attract more experienced hikers. You might find that you have no trouble keeping pace with the sign posts near town, but you struggle to match the sign posts higher up. Our advice, don't stress. Just get a general sense of your own pace early on, and then plan accordingly. Our guests almost always make it to dinner on time.

Back to the sign. We can also see that the village of Sent offers food, drink and bus service. Incidentally, this sign denotes the primary villages with rectangles and the secondary mountain hamlets without. This is good to know in case you need to amend your itinerary. Likewise, some of the hamlets consist of nothing more than a building or two, so it pays to consult our written hike descriptions beforehand. From this sign we can see that Jonvrai offers food, but they may or may not be open. We like to check in advance.

So, we understand the sign and it's time to begin our hike toward Sent.

Some of the best winter hikes begin on top of the ski hills. This is a benefit because the lifts carry us to vantage points offering commanding views of the surrounding peaks. Here we're looking out over the Silvretta Range.

The signs eventually get smaller.



Until it's just solitude and the mountain road.

No comments: