We arose and took a peep out of the window. It looked fair and, at 9:30, we started on our trip to Brig. A last farewell look at the Rhone Glacier and the valley, part of which, 50 years ago, was filled by the glacier but is covered now by debris and grass.
A short way from the hotel, we crossed the Rhone, which dashes through its rocky ravine far below. Through pleasant pine woods, we drove along the bank of the noisy river, our road descending in long windings until, at a turn of the road, the long Upper Valais, a broad green valley, enclosed by a long chain of mountains, stretched out before us, and, far in the distance, like clouds on a bright blue sky, stood out the snow covered peak of the majestic Weisshorn, one of the mountains of the Wallis Alp, which is 14800 feet high.
We passed right through one of those little Swiss villages, and I am sorry to say that, with them, “Distance lends enchantment” to the view. The houses and barns built of rough timber with very small windows and manure, the Swiss Eau de Cologne, surrounding them; the streets muddy and the people poorly clad.
I must add, however, that this was an exception to the rule and that the people of this particular village must be very poor. When I saw how they gathered their hay, and how carefully they were not to leave a bit of it on the ground, I felt that, with them, it was a constant struggle for life and the wherewith to sustain it.
Small patches of land were utilized to raise a few bundles of grain and every little spot of grass was mown and made into hay. I was delighted to see a priest out in one of the field raking hay. The villages through which we passed were deserted for men, women and children were out “Making hay while the sun was shining.”
At Reckingen, another village through which we passed and which was neat and clean, I saw the first house which looked like the little Swiss houses which are sold in the stores to tourists. I also saw the prettiest little house with fancy scroll work and a pretty steeple in the center, built for the bees?
I did not get tired of looking at the hillside with its “Grune matten” (green mats). It looked like a green carpet, dotted here and there by the little cow stables, the wood darkened by age, and, here in the Rhone Valley, the mountains had pine trees above the stretch of meadows.
Shortly before reaching our dinner station, we saw, high up on a mountain, the hotel Jungfrau Eggishoon, a favorite English resort from where the ascent to the Eggishorn (9625’) can be made in a few hours. Near it is the Great Aletsch Glacier, the largest in Europe.
Lunch, as they call it, tasted good in the hotel at Fiesch, where I met a storekeeper who has been in America and who was glad to see some one from that country. After lunch, we walked up to the village church, which is situated on a hill. The sun had been shining all morning, and sometimes it felt very hot, but in the afternoon it clouded up.
We now kept the descending, and the horses could take it easy. We passed the canal which supplies the water for the turbines of the engines of the Simplon Tunnel, and, at Grengiole, we crossed the deep bed of the Rhone. At one stretch of the road, we could watch this turbulent river as it dashes wildly over sharp rocks, a little further on and we see the mouth of the Simplon Tunnel.
We pass through a little town which has grown up around the stables and houses of a Swiss village. The signs over the shops are in the Italian language and, upon inquiry, we learn that, while the Simplon Tunnel was being built, many Italian workmen were brought over to help and that they settled down here.
Crossing the Rhone for another time, we reached our destination, Brig. We will long remember this beautiful trip. The jingling of the bells fastened to our horses was pleasant music to our ears for two days. In days to come, we will again see the goat herd on the hill side, the women with loaded baskets on their backs, the cows being milked on the roadside. We will hear the vesper bells and the many tuned bells of the cowherds, the rushing and roaring of the water. The hymns of praise which we sang on the road will again and again remind us of the pleasant days spent on the Furka Pass. Brig looked dusty and city like after two days of mountain and meadow life.
We took a walk up the street to the Stockalper Chateau built in the 17th century by a man of that name who dominated the trade over the Simplon before the days of railroads, but the cobble stones in the streets hurt our feet, and we returned to the hotel to sit on the terrace. We have been spoilt by these two days of luxury and ease.