When we arrived last night, we had to climb a hill to our hotel, and on the way we passed an immense white building, which we found upon inquiry to be the Grand Hotel with room for 500 guests. It is beautifully situated on the hillside above the lake.
Saint Moritz is only a village, with 1600 inhabitants, and owes its great importance as a health resort of the first rank partly to the general climatic advantages of the Engadine, but mainly to its mineral springs, which were known as early as 1539. The season proper lasts from the middle of June to the middle of September, and the place, with its immense hotel buildings, looks empty. The Bath of Saint Moritz is in the valley on the lake and has a very pretty Kurhaus.
As the weather was favorable, we decided to go to the Morter Ratsch Glacier, and so we boarded the train to Pontresina, another frequented summer and winter resort which owes its mountaineering importance to the proximity of the Bernina Chain of Mountains, which vies in grandeur of it snow peaks and glaciers with the celebrated Mt. Rosa group.
We walked along a well-made road past a pretty waterfall and, crossing the Bernina Bach [sic], we took a pretty foot path leading through woods and over meadows. As we are at such a great height, 6260 feet above sea level, we were able to pick many alpine flowers, and we saw many bushes of the Alpine Rose plants.
We reached the foot of the glacier after about two hours’ walk and, as we were all in good condition, we decided to climb to the Boral Hut, which lies 1810 feet higher on the west side of the Glacier.
The road ascended on the slope below the Chunetta and, although very rocky, it was not difficult. We had climbed about one-sixth of the distance when it began to rain and, as the clouds slowly covered the mountains, we concluded it wisest to return.But we had provided ourselves with a good lunch consisting of two loaves of bread, cheese, ham, butter and pears and, as we could not make up our minds to let it dry up, we sought the shelter of three good-sized larch trees and “Opened up,” Alfred’s Rucksack and took our lunch “Standing.”
We then descended to the foot of a glacier which, by the way, needed a washing pretty badly at the lower end, and sought refuge in the always present Restaurant. A plate of good soup warmed us up and a fire in the Kachelofen [tiled stove] together with the cozy corner of a sopha soon made us forget the weather outside until Emily suddenly jumped exclaiming “Es schneet, es schneet!”
We could hardly believe her, but sure enough, it did snow and, before we left, the mountains, which had been gray and bare, were covered in spots with snow, thus giving us an opportunity to guess how they will look when the season opens again next year.
An electric line runs from here direct to Saint Moritz, but we had to wait three hours for the next car. Time, however, passed quickly, and we reached our destination at 4:30, passing on the way the old Romanesque Chapel of San Gian near Celerina. It continued to drizzle, but we climbed the hill in St. Moritz to the leaning tower of the old parish church dating from 1573.
The church has been pulled down but the cemetery is still next to the tower, and we saw many tombstones of American and English men who have died here, telling the sad story of their seeking for health, but in vain. Alfred took a few Kodak pictures of us today, one with the sheep herd, and I suppose it will be hard to count the Schafskopfe [sheep heads] in this picture without insulting somebody.
Good night, more to-morrow.