Bernina Trek Day 1

Madulain 1697m – Chamanna d‘Es-cha 2594m
Distance: 5.5km / Ascent: 900m / Time: 3 hrs

Around midday, I arrived at the trailhead, Madulain, a cute train station of the Rhätische Bahn. I was the only one to get off the train which made me wonder if I would be the only one on the trail.

I had a quick look at the very pretty village of Madulain with a beautiful stone-paved square lined up with typical Engadin houses, wooden doors, decorated facades and windows with colorful flowers. I wanted to walk around to see more of this village but I had 3 hours to walk up. OK then, off we go…

The first part of the trail seemed to be a historical path paved with stones. I could hear the sound of gushing water nearby while following the path along the river.

As soon as the trail entered a forest, I saw many flowers in bloom, butterflies and insects busy flying around. Nature feels intact here!

I was in total bliss amidst flowers and butterflies and did not advance much. But today I still had to go 900m up in altitude and I saw the sky darkening. I took the path again.

Soon it started to climb up again, the sky was getting darker and I started to worry a bit.

Soon it started to rain and at above 2000m in altitude the air was really getting cold. I put my rain gear on but my gloves were too deep in the bag so I marched on in the rain without them. I missed one red sign somewhere and lost the track, it took some time to find the route with the help of GPS.  I was so relieved when I finally saw the hut in the mist!

I stumbled into the hut, Chamanna Es-Cha, completely wet and with my hands too ice-cold to take off my clothes. I made a mental note to have all gear such as gloves ready to use next time.

The hut was being under renovation and several men were working in the cold rain. The hut staff assigned me a room where I took a spot on the third level, a cozy place, where I have more privacy, though I had to go up the ladder each time.

While I was hanging out in the dining room with hot tea in my hands, a group of women arrived after a while and then another two men came in. It seemed to be a small group tonight!

At the dinner table there were eight of us: 5 women from the Netherlands, one man from Lichtenstein and his Swiss mountain guide, and myself. The mountain guide already climbed the Matterhorn 12 times! These two men were going to climb up the Kesch (3417m) the next day. Under one lamp (due to electricity shortage after a thunder stroke the hut’s electric system yesterday) we had nice conversations over dinner about the mountains, Japan’s overcrowded trains, etc. in German as well as in English.

Practical notes:
– Chamanna d’Es-Cha (Es-Cha Hut): details here
– At Madulain there is a water fountain and a toilet inside the train station.

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