June 21, 2010

A rare surprise, Snow on the Summer Solstice

Well, not THAT rare, but snow in June is cool, regardless, especially when it happens on the summer solstice. Local Wengenites told us that they have even had snow at this elevation in July, but that we should still take in a hike to see the alpines in the snow, since it only happens every 10 years or so. So even though we've seen nothing but clouds, rain and no mountains or glaciers so far, we were treated to this summer snow, which was very special. Beside, Sunshine is forecast for the next four days.
 Soldanella alpina, or the aptly named Alpine Snowbell, is blooming much later this year in the Alps in and around Wengen, Switzerland. I usually find flowers that have passed on to seed, but this year it's another story, and the precious Soldanella alpina are in peak bloom, and they even were treated to a spring snow which greeted us this morning.

False Hellebores, surviving a late spring ( early summer?) freak snowstorm in the alps on June 21. Taken near the Eiger's famous North Face. Typically, hikers would be looking the other way, at the enourmous cliffs of the North Face, but if the clouds brought something, they brought a new focus, and we are seeing things that we might have missed.

June 19, 2010

Report from Switzerland -Day 1

Greetings from Switzerland, where Joe and I are hiking, botanizing and catching up on some well needed rest ( if you can call it that!). I thought that I might throw some pics up on the blog that might be interesting to my readers, so most are plant related. 

Apparently this part of Switzerland ( Lauterbrunnen/Wengen) has been experiencing some rather unseasonal cold and rainy weather this year, with most tourists complaining about their lost week or two, to the rain and fog, and the residents, laughing at them (politely) because rain is not unusual here during the flora weeks in June and early July, they admit that this year has been very rainy. It's cold too, with temperatures around 0 degree C ( 32 deg. F) at the hiking trails, 45 degree temps where we stay. But, for one of the most beautiful places on earth, even when it rains, one cannot complain that much, I find the clouds, mist and fog restful, and even peacefully relaxing. 

Gardens in and around the tiny alpine village of Wengen, are in peak bloom. The rarer gentians and alpines that we know are blooming up on the cloud-cover alpine meadows may be calling us, today, we are taking a day of rest, and still enjoying some of the more common flora in the local chalet front gardens. Lupines, saxifrages, poppies, all seem to grow much nicer in the cool, moist mountain air.
The Swiss seem to find places on these steep slopes for vegetable plots that are so tidy, and weedfree, that I am in envy. 

June 17, 2010

Off to Switzerland to Botanize and Rest

What do you think? Maybe Margaret knows that she isn't going this time.
Check in daily for posts from our up-coming hikes in the Alps starting tomorrow (if internet access works this time!. Cheers, all!