Billeder på siden
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

capped by the picturesque ruins of the ancient castle of Tschanuff, shown in cut on page 235.

Mounting slowly high above the deep, narrow, rocky channel of the Inn, we climb through larch-woods and then through meadows and fields to the flourishing village of Ardez (4,996 feet). Its cottages are grouped picturesquely round a barren, rocky eminence crowned by the hoary ruins of the castle of Steinsberg. The road, which is often blasted in the steep, rocky slope, now presents us at frequent intervals with very picturesque views, as that on page 237.

Tarasp is a mountain village, with chalybeate springs, and is a great health resort. Its hotel is lighted with electric lights, has concert rooms and all the luxuries of city life. In its vicinity. are numerous delightful excursions; one of these leads through mountain meadows to the pavilion of the Wy-Quelle, standing on a projecting hill of tufa. A superb prospect is obtained from this commandingly situated structure.

Tarasp castle is a picturesque old structure perched on an almost inaccessible height, reached by zig-zag roads. It presents everywhere a frowning and inhospitable front, reminding us that the first object of feudal times was security from attack. Picturesque as these castles appear, they must have been very uncomfortable places in which to live. With much toil and many an aching back, the weary peasants must have climbed the steep

road conveying provisions and other supplies for the manifold needs of the garrison. Glorious as is the surrounding prospect of snow-capped mountains, dazzling white in full sunlight, blushing rosy hue at sunset, and gleaming spectral white or ashen gray in the moonlight, we doubt if they occupied much of the thought of the iron-clad men-at-arms. Even the fair dames of high degree, from their tiny cell-like chambers, could scarce get, through the lancet windows in the deep embrasured walls, a glance at this magnificent view. (See cuts on pages 232 and 239).

At an altitude of nearly five thousand feet are the picturesque

[ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

ruins of the ancient church of St. Peter's, situated on a conical rocky mount. This eminence commands an extensive and interesting view of the mountains and valleys. Fetan, five hundred feet higher, has an extremely agreeable situation on a commanding sunny slope. In contrast to the gloomy idyllic surroundings is the record of the disasters which have at different times overtaken Fetan. In 1682 and 1720 it was in great part destroyed by avalanches, and in 1723, 1794, and again on September 23rd,


1885, by terrible conflagrations. For a time a still greater peril hung like the sword of Damocles over the heads of the sorely tried inhabitants, symptoms of an approaching landslip which would overwhelm them being plainly remarked; but this danger has been averted, it is to be hoped forever, by extensive draining and planting operations carried out with the assistance of the cantonal and federal governments.

The lone and well-nigh inaccessible mountains which border this valley are the home of the graceful chamois, the black and brown bear, and of the Lammergeier eagle, all of which furnish excellent sport for those who are murderously inclined.

The late lamented John Addington Symonds spent much of his later years in the High Alps and prolonged his valuable life in

this invigorating mountain land. His volume of Alpine sketches is one of fascinating interest. No one has ever better described the varied aspects of mountain life and adventure. The following is a sketch of tobogganing on a glacier:

"I can now only relate my own experience of that memorable ride. Smooth and very slowly at first; then, on a sudden, the runners of my toboggan glided easier-then bounded forward. Below me lay the billowy sea of unending white; beyond that, again, broken bits of moraine;


then glimpses of the verdurous Prättigau, surmounted by innumerable ranges ending in Tödi and the whole Bernese Oberland. I could not fully realize the superb immensity of that Alpine view. I merely tore off my hat, leaned back, lifted my feet, and felt my toboggan springing forward Then followed

into space. the most breathless flight I have ever flown. Up dashed the fresh snow into my face, filling my ears, my eyelids, my mouth and nostrils, and plastering itself in upon my chest. All power of controlling my headlong course had vanished. I believe I invoked the Deity and myself to stop at once this mad career. Then for a second all consciousness of danger forsook me. I was seized with the intoxication of movement, and hurled forward with closed eyes and lungs choked by the driving snow, which rose in a cloud before me. When I recovered my senses it was to find myself launched forth upon a gentler slope, and many metres to the left of the assigned course. A few feet in front of me I became aware of an old scar of a crevasse. It was neck or nothing, and I had no energy to stop. I shot across it and steered out upon the even plain of glacier. I had descended, through the sunlight, in the space of five minutes, a tract of snow-field, which it had taken us over an



hour to climb at dawn. Mr. Symonds thus describes a four-days' journey on the snow:

"The mountain valley, Züge, even in the softness of summertime, is, at its best, grand and terrific; but on that morning, as we drove through, it was ugly in its terror, wicked in grandeur. The avalanche swept through a narrow gorge, having gathered in its furious descent all the snows from the mountain-sides above. When it came to rest at last in the flat of the valley, it heaped itself out in a fan shape, crossing the river, and swinging up the opposite mountain. Wherever its mighty wind. passed it mowed off the tops of the tough larch and pine trees as though they were



blades of grass. So the post-road was suddenly lifted to an altitude of from fifty to sixty feet above its usual level.

"We drove very steadily over the snow mountain, and as we descended the other side we came upon a scattered crowd of peasants digging, still in search of a comrade who had been swept away six days before. They had been digging, these fifty men, for five days, and had not found his corpse. Something in the cold wickedness of this seemingly soft substance fills one with horror when one has learnt its force. I could not forget its

« ForrigeFortsæt »