In November I said goodbye to my mountain hideaway in Engelberg. My possessions in the van, packed neatly* we drove to the more urban settlement I call home now. It was nice in the mountains, but it’s nicer to share the pandemic everyday and weekend adventures with family.
I expected the move to be a goodbye to a proper winter. The elevation dropped from over 1000m to just a bit over 600m, the winter rain here comes more likely as water than snow. Also, phenomenon called hochnebel – high fog – makes the winter here more grey than sparkly. But like many things in this pandemic, the reality didn’t meet my expectations. Better so, luckily.
The past winter in Schwyz was one of the warmest and snowiest in decades. (Please note that you don’t make me laugh asking where’s the climate change now with the winter so cold – for just a short intensive period that was.)
This winter, I got to shovel snow more than I have shovelled the last 10 years combined. (I am sure though, nothing can beat the amounts of the snow I shovelled in Lapland as a kid. Nor what my mom shovelled this winter.) I also skied –both touring and nordic – more than I have done in many many years. Despite living further away from the mountains and not really traveling further than inside a circle with a radius of about 20km.
It was great. Nordic skiing made sure I got enough of effective physical training (also it kept me fed with a job in the nordic ski rental). Of course, the shovelling was great training too (I think I have arm muscles now).
Hopp Schwyz – My Pandemic Paradise
This winter, I also got to explore properly ( read: a lot) a Swiss region new to me. Outside German speaking Switzerland and the Catholic Church (read: The ones who know the Einsiedeln Abbey), Schwyz is pretty unknown. While for the Zürich crowds our adventure destination of the pandemic (also kind of a paradise) is the closest and the most whole family friendly there is close by. (Beware if going, the traffic is busy in weekends. Especially in good weather.)
On the downside, for a liberal young woman like me, it’s a region with very conservative and traditional to the extremes character and voting habits. But for many winter activities, when there is snow enough, it’s a pretty nice place. It has the Nordic skiing areas in Einsiedeln, Rothenthurm and Studen, and small ski resorts (though we kept away from resorts this winter) as well as good skitouring areas in Brunni and Oberiberg. Not to forget, the remarkable mountain of Mythen and the good restaurants and cafe´s in Einsiedeln, when no pandemic restrictions around.
Microadventures On Skis
From previous experience, I already knew how fun skitouring and nordic skiing is, far away from the lift lines, crowded slopes and noisy afterski bars. But if I have understood right, for my companion it took the pandemic winter to properly get how good it is to suffer more and enjoy less. Or well, it’s not really suffering and I always enjoy a lot on these tours as well. Except when I am “a little” tired and my old boots cause blisters and achy footbeds. Which always happens.
But really, it’s very nice to move forward and upwards one step – or in this case slide – at a time. And repeat. And repeat. Listening the sound my skis and poles make with the snow, or the occasional talkative passer by. And finally, reach the flow in the middle of beautiful nature or on top of the mountain and the great powder run down. Mix of a fatigue and a great achievement.
And skate skiing <3 which is basically dancing on snow.
Right now, after a very springy period, the winter is back with proper March snow. Or as it’s called in schwiizerdütsch: Märzschnee. I haven’t yet packed away nor sold my skis and seems like there is another good winter adventure (or two) waiting this weekend.
It’s a shame though the restaurants and cafe’s – and especially the terraces now in spring – have to keep shut still. Because they are the third best thing in the Swiss winter sports, after the mountains and the snow. Though another good thing I have noticed the past months is that Lapland prepared me well for not just all the shovelling but also for all the touring adjusted to the pandemic rules.
No problem to carry my own snacks and water. No problem to have snack break on my skis, breathing in the fresh winter air, with the beautiful nature right at my fingertips. And really no problem when the Swiss winter sun shines, the birds sing and other people keep the proper distance.
Wilderness has it’s perks, but so does this kind of Schwiiz (Schwyz) winter.
I just wish I had sauna too.
*All the neat packing is done by Swiss in the family, since I have not reached that preciseness and order of the average Swiss. Though I am becoming close with my excels, trello boards and nicely stacked and labeled storage units both here in Switzerland and Lapland.