Pass Positive

An Alpine Adventure

When we left the womb-like confines of Lake Como it was dark. Somehow it felt just a little crazy that we would end up in Munich 5 hours later, but Switzerland and the Alps are much more about going up than going out, and it wasn’t long before we were climbing through mountainous terrain with cliff hanger roads and gradually cooling temperatures. After dozens of hairpin turns on the slopes of Como we were now hairpin turn experts (oh really), so we were undaunted by the addition of a few thousand feet to the drop-offs (fools). About halfway along the dramatic roadways lined with wooden posts was the Passo dello Spluga, provided you were coming from Italy. There stood an unused border crossing shack with an always open crossing arm.

Just after the border, a cluster of dwelling structures that one would guess were literally shuttered for the approaching winter (few visible windows open – no cars in sight), surrounded by rock slides of mossy green lichen covered gray rock, stood silently. There was some meandering water and a dam that created a small lake which looked as if it would soon be the perfect skating rink.

But what are those structures for, we would ask?  Something to do in the summer perhaps, lodging for serious cross-mountain trekkers? Folks who don’t mind being buried in a blizzard on top of the Swiss Alps? It turns out that the better understanding comes from researching the Berghaus Splugenpass, a 200 year old restored guesthouse with food that caters to hikers. Open from the middle of May until the middle of October, it is a remaining vestige of the days before the opening of other routes and tunnels made the Splugen pass obsolete.

As with coming up and now coming down, the road featured tunnels that were partly open on the cliffside, with arches that seemed to hold up the mountain above them. After the relatively old tunnels coming up the Italian side, with turns on precipitous peaks and spectacular cascades of water coming down the mountain side, the Swiss side seemed a little less daunting.

Splugen Forward

It did not take long until you were seeing green hills with the bell laden grey colored cows grazing the hillside, the rising of a ski lift, and the regular signs of civilization. The church, the orderly fields of crops, the Swiss train, and the main highway that would whisk us away from a journey not easily forgotten.

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