Switzerland Scuol 2000.08.28 - 08.31

Final Hike in Switzerland

Deciding that we'd be fit after 2 months of hiking in Switzerland, we saved the most demanding hike for last. Called "The Lais da Rims" with optional detours to the 3105 M / 10,187 ft summit of Piz Lischana and the luxurious Capanna Susvenna mountain lodge across the Italian border, this 2-day hike is rated difficult by the "Walking in Switzerland" guide - without the extras.

Scuol served as a base where we could leave luggage not needed for the hike. Compared to other towns in the Graubüden Region, Scuol is more developed. Tourists normally come for the mineral baths, an activity we decided to skip.

From Scuol, buses depart hourly for San Jon (elevation 1464 M / 4803 ft), a horse farm that marks "The Lais da Rims" trailhead. 10 minutes into the walk, the path ascents. It doesn't stop ascending for another 8 lateral km (5 miles) and 1.65 vertical km (just over a mile). Many people stay overnight at the Swiss mountain hut Chamanna Lischana at 2500 M / 8202 ft 3-4 hours up from San Jon. We blew by the hut 2 hours into our walk and continued to the highest peak in the area, Piz Lischana. The path was marked and well maintained all the way up to 3050 M / 10,006 ft, but the last stretch that undulated along loose rocked cliffs was hair raising. Occasionally, the path disappeared and Wes found himself looking down a 1000 meter drop. With jittery knees, we continued along the precipice for another 40 minutes to reach the summit. Unfortunately, there was little time to celebrate. Looking at Masami's watch, we realized it was already 15:10, only 3 hours and 20 minutes before dinner would be served at the Italian lodge Capanna Susvenna where we had reservations. Between Piz Lischana and Susvenna lay 12 km / 7.5 miles including the return from the peak to the marked trail at 3050 M.

By 16:00 we reached safe ground but still had 10 km to travel. A group of German hikers coming from Susvenna advised that we'd need at least 3 hours to make the trip. Unfazed, we decided to jog until we could run no more.

Reaching Capanna Susvenna at 18:20, we had 10 minutes to spare. As Masami rushed to check-in, the staff apologetically asked, "We will serve dinner at 19:00. Would that be OK? ". Exhausted, we showered in time for a large dinner at a table with some Swiss women hikers who couldn't believe that any sane person would try to hike from San Jon to Piz Lischana to Susvenna in a single day.

Fortunately, day 2 was an easy downhill 8 km / 5 miles. Our feet still hurt from the pounding the day before. The descent took us through the pretty Uina Gorge where a hiking trail has been gradually chiseled into the solid mountain rock over a period of 33 years from 1908 to 1941.

Masami crosses one of many ledges on an unofficial route to the summit of Piz Lischana (3105 M / 10,197 ft).

A chamois peaks at us from the rocks as we intrude upon his space. With little vegetation and harsh terrain, we were surprised to see wildlife in these mountains.

Masami and Wes stand atop Piz Lischana.

Masami walks along Uina Gorge. Several kilometers of trail is cut into the rock.

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