Winter Walks in Laax, Naraus to Startgels
Day 3 of Snow Hiking
By the time we got to Day 3, our legs were feeling better and we were well and truly acclimatized to the height, or at least, I was, so we decided to go up to the other side of the mountain to Cassons at 2675m.
In the Signina Hotel, they give what is called a GasteKarte, a guess pass, which gives you to free access to the local buses that run between Flims, Laax and the third village of Falera.
We went up the station at Foppa, 1420m, on the first cable car, then up to Naraus, 1842 and then on up to Cassons, 2675m.
I have to admire the totally awesome feat of engineering that it must have been to build that last cable car up to Cassons.
There is only one small car that holds about 20 people at most. It takes 15 minutes to ascend this last part and the views are probably the most spectacular of all of the cable car journeys that we did.
For me, it was one long WOW!
I was already really enamoured with this whole region, but when we stepped out at Cassons, it was true, deep, passionate love at first sight. As we can up the steps to the cosy mountain top cafe, my first thought was whether they needed any staff to look after it, so I could live up here all year round. That would be my idea of total bliss!
From the cafe, we walked up to the ridge behind, which is where the marker points were located. It truly was a feeling on being on top of the world, above the clouds and above many of the other mountains.
We walked along as far as we could before it became very obvious that this was a skiers paradise and not really suitable for walking, or at least, not safely, given our lack of experience and preparation. We tackled in it the Summer, but that is a whole different story as this world looked very different in July.
Given the wild, untamed landscape and the sheer drops from the top, we could see why there were not any walks marked on out little tourist map.
There were fewer people up here on this side of the mountain than there had been on the Vorab side, but that suited me perfectly. There were a few seasoned walkers, but it was mostly the experienced skiers and snowboarders, as well as a couple of paragliders.
I reluctantly dragged myself away from the top of Cassons and we went back down to the station at Naraus, 1842m. We picked up the trail down over the mountain, with a view to getting to the restaurant at Startgels, 1509m. On the map, it looked like quite a level trail, again not taking account of a 300m height difference.
We started off down a well-trodden trail, that is probably a road in Summer, following along with other walkers on the same path. On this particular day, we somehow managed to miss the marker point. We realised we had got lost when we found ourselves increasingly in deep snow.
The path was very hit and miss and we ended up crossing more ski ways than we intended. At one point we walked along on the ski runways for quite a while in order to try to pick up the path again. That was a very scary experience as skiers and snowboarders were whizzing along at great speed, clearly not expecting to find walkers on their ski runs!
One of the big advantages with walking in this area is that you can easily see the major landmarks and the restaurants. From the top of Cassons, I had made a mental note of where everything was in relation to everything else. On our walks over the previous days, I had made a point of noting which restaurants and ski lifts we could see from which points.
This ability was very helpful on this walk. Although we were off the path, I could see the lift station at the top of Grauberg and knew that we needed to head in that direction because we could then catch the gondola at Startgels, at the bottom of that valley, up to the Grauberg station.
Although this was not quite where we had planned to go, as we had ambitiously thought we could walk right to Flims, right at the bottom of the mountain, it was a lovely walk and was plenty for us, with our level of un-fitness.
Part of our ambitious plans were due to some of the signs, as these give a distance and some give an expected walking time. They do, however, assume a non-stop walking and don’t allow for dawdling, photography stops and missing the markers!
When we got to Grauberg, it was downhill back to Nargens. Although we had walked this part of the route only yesterday, it seemed quite different today. Maybe that was because I actually felt more energized and was more aware of my surroundings than I had been at the end of yesterday. Maybe I appreciated it more because we had come up in the cable car from the valley below and seen how close to the cliff edge the path actually is. I don’t know what it was, but the walk did not seem to be me to anywhere near as much of a struggle as the previous day.
From Nargens we did a down and up cable car trip via Plaun and Crap Sogn Gion to take us back to Laax, with plenty of time to enjoy the spa and sauna before dinner.
I am quite sure the Rocks Resort in Laax must need someone to walk these hiking trails in Winter to make sure they are suitable for other walkers and to write about them, so people know the best ways to go.
Pick Me! I Volounteer!