Page images
PDF
EPUB

person is allowed to go up with less than two the edge of even a moderately high precipice withguides, and each of these must be paid a hundred out feeling giddy; and yet these people would like francs, or twenty dollars. Then a porter is required very much to have a view from a mountain-top, to carry provisions and extra clothing, and he and they naturally feel interested when they find must be paid fifty francs. At the little hut, at that there is in Switzerland a mountain, and a Grands Mulets, the climber is charged more for high one, too, from which a magnificent view his accommodation than he would have to pay at may be obtained, that can be ascended without any a first-class New-York hotel, and if he thinks to fatigue, or any danger. economize by making a supper and breakfast out To this mountain we are now going. It is called of the provisions he has brought with him, he is the Rigi, and it is situated on the northern bank of charged five dollars for his bed. It is of no use to the Lake of Lucerne, or as the Swiss call it, “The try to get the better of a person who keeps a hut Lake of the Four Forest Cantons ;” and there is, hotel, ten thousand feet in the air, where there is probably, no lake in the world more beautiful, or no opposition. If one does not like the terms, he surrounded by grander scenery. It is also full of may sleep in the snow. When a party goes up, interest historically, for its shores were the scenes the expenses of each member are somewhat les- of the first efforts for Swiss independence. On sened, but the trip is, in any case, a costly one. one of its arms, the Lake of Uri, we are shown For this reason, and on account of the hardships the place where William Tell sprang on the rocks and dangers incurred in climbing its vast and when escaping from the boat of the tyrant Gessler; snowy steeps, the great majority of tourists are and in the little village of Altorf, not far away, he content to gaze upon the towering heights of Mont shot the apple from his son's head. Blanc without attempting to ascend them.

At the edge of the lake, at the very foot of the The more dangerous peaks of Switzerland, such Rigi, is the small town of Vitznau, and it is to this as the Matterhorn, are only ascended by skillful place that the people who wish to ascend the and practiced mountain-climbers, and even these mountain betake themselves, by steamboat. On often meet with disaster. On the first ascent of the the other side of the mountain there is another Matterhorn, four persons lost their lives by falling small town, called Arth, where tourists coming the dreadful distance of four thousand feet; and from the north begin their ascent; but we shall go not far from this mountain is a little cemetery con- up from Lake Lucerne, and start from Vitznau. Artaining the graves of travelers who have perished in rived at this town, we find ourselves at the foot of climbing this and neighboring heights. But there a towering mountain, which stretches for miles to the are mountains in Switzerland the summits of which east and west, so that it is more like a short mountcan be reached by persons capable of sustaining ainous chain than a single eminence. Its loftiest ordinary fatigue, and they are ascended every peak is five thousand nine hundred and six feet,-summer by hundreds of travellers, many of whom about the height of our own Mount Washington, are ladies. The latter sometimes prove themselves in the White Mountains. very steady and enduring climbers, and in Switzer- In preparing to climb the Rigi, it is not necessary land it very often happens that when a boy starts for us to adopt the costume usually worn by out on an excursion he can not tell his sister that mountain-climbers in Switzerland, which, in the she must stay at home that day, because he is going case of men and boys, consists of a very short coat, to climb a mountain. Give a girl an alpenstock- knickerbocker trowsers buttoned at the knee, a long stick with a spike in the end — a pair of heavy woolen stockings, stout laced boots with the heavy boots with rough nails in the soles, and if soles covered with projecting nails, a little knapshe be in good health, and accustomed to exercise, sack on the back, and a long alpenstock in the she can climb quite high up in the world on a Swiss hand. We need not carry any provisions, but mountain.

it is necessary to take some extra wraps with us, But, although a fine view may be obtained from for at the top it is often very cold; but although a mountain six, eight, or ten thousand feet high, the mountain is very high, and its top rises above and although the ascent may not be really danger- the limit of the growth of trees, it does not reach ous, it is of no use to assert that it is an easy thing to the line of eternal snow. to go up such mountains; and there are few of There are no icy slopes, up which we must them on which there are not some places, necessary scramble; there are no crevasses, reaching down to pass, where a slip would make it extremely un- hundreds of feet into the heart of the mountain, pleasant for the person slipping. There are a over which we must slowly creep by means of a great many travelers, not used to climbing, or not plank or ladder; there are no narrow footpaths, able to do so, whose nerves are not in that per- with a towering wall of rock on one side and a terfect order which would enable them to stand on rible precipice yawning on the other; there are no

--

- - ---wide and glistening snow-fields, on which, if one of often quite surprising, and one wonders how the us slips and falls, he may slide away so swiftly and locomotive is ever going to get the car, containso far, that he may never be seen again; there are ing forty or fifty people, up those steep inclines. no vast fissures covered with newly fallen snow on But up it always goes, steadily and resolutely, for which if a person carelessly treads he disappears the little engine has the power of one hundred and forever.

twenty horses. There is also no necessity of our walking in The whole road is about four and a half miles a line with a long rope tied from one to the otherlong, and although the locomotive is so strong, it so that if one of us slips the others may hold back, only goes at the rate of three miles an hour, so and keep him from falling or sliding very far. that an active person walking by its side might None of these dangers, which are to be encoun- keep up with it for a time, though he would be tered by those who ascend the higher Alps, and likely to be very tired before he had gone far. many of the lower Swiss mountains, are to be met As we slowly ascend the Rigi, in this comfortable with here ; and the precautions which those per- way, we find that we are taking one of the most sons must not fail to take are not required on interesting and novel excursions of our lives. If the Rigi. All that is necessary when we are ready the weather be fine, there breaks upon the eye, as to make the ascent, is to buy our tickets, and take we rise higher and higher, a succession of those our seats in a wide and comfortable railway car. views of mountain, lake, and forest, which only can There is a funny little locomotive at one end of be had from an elevated position; and as one of this car, and there is a line of rails which leads by these views suddenly appears, and then is cut off various curves and windings and steep ascents, up by a turn in the road, to be presently succeeded by to the top of the mountain. The locomotive will another, we have a foretaste of what we are going do the climbing, and all we have to do is to sit still, to enjoy when we arrive at the top. The scenery and look about, and see what there is to be seen. immediately about the railway is also very inter

This railway and the little locomotive are very esting, and some of the incidents of the trip are not different from those in ordinary use on level only novel but startling. Sometimes the little ground. The rails are about the usual distance train traverses regions of wild forest and rocks; apart, but between them are two other very strong sometimes it winds along the edge of savage prerails, lying near to each other, and connected by cipices; now it passes into a dark and dreary tuna series of stout iron bars, like teeth. Under nel, from which it emerges to take an airy flight the locomotive is a cogwheel which fits into these over a long and narrow bridge, which we in the teeth, and as it is turned around by the engine it car can not see beneath us, and where we look far forces the locomotive up the steep incline. There down upon the tree-tops we are passing over. is but one car to each train, and this is always Through wild and desolate scenes, by forests, placed above the engine, so that it is pushed along rocks, and waterfalls, we pass, the little locomotive when it is going up, and held back when it is always puffing and pushing vigorously behind us, coming down. The car is not attached to the until we reach a level plateau, on which stands a locomotive, so that if anything happens to the large and handsome hotel, with numerous outlatter, the car can be instantly stopped by means buildings. This is called the Rigi Kaltbad, and of a brake which acts on the teeth between the the situation is a very beautiful one. Many people rails, and the locomotive can go on down by itself. come here to spend days, and even weeks, enjoyThere is no power required in going down, and all ing the mountain walks and the grand scenery. the engine has to do is to hold back sturdily, and But, after a short stop at the station here, our keep the car from coming down too fast. This train passes on, and before long we reach anmay be the reason, perhaps, why persons are other plateau, much higher up, which is called charged only half as much for coming down as Rigi Staffel, where there is another large hotel. they are charged for going up.

Then, on we go, up a steep ledge, on the edge The locomotive does not stand up straight in of a cliff, which it seems impossible that any the ordinary way, but leans backward, and when train could ascend, until we reach the Rigi Kulm, on level ground, it looks very much as if it had the highest part of the mountain. When we broken down at one end; but when it is on the alight from the train, we see a large and handsome steep inclines of the mountain, its depressed end, hotel, with several smaller buildings surrounding which always goes first, is then as high as the it, but we find we are not on the very loftiest peak other, and the smokestack stands up perpendicu- of the Kulm. To this point we must walk, but larly. The seats in the cars, too, slope so that the there are broad and easy paths leading to it, and passengers will not slip off them when one end of the ascent is not very great, and does not require the car is tilted up. The ascents of the road are many minutes.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

When we walk past the hotel, and the upper- place a fenced pathway leads into a little wood and most part of the Kulm comes into view, the first a notice informs him that he may enter and get a thing that catches our attention is a long line of view of the Black Falls for four cents. wide-spread white umbrellas. As we rise higher, When I was at Grindelwald, a little village we see that these umbrellas are not held by any- among the Higher Alps, I went part way up a body, but each one is fastened over a small stand, mountain, to visit a glacier. These masses of ice,

[graphic][ocr errors]

DIAGRAM OF THE LAKE OF LUCERNE AND THE RIGI, SHOWING RAILWAY TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN.

containing articles of carved wood or ivory, boxes, which lie in the ravines of the mountains, are often bears, birds, spoons, forks, and all those useful of great depth, extending downward for hundreds and ornamental little things which the Swiss of feet, and are formed by the melting of the make so well and are so anxious to sell. There snow in the lower part of the snow-fields above. are so many of these booths and stands, with the The water trickles down when the sun shines on it, women and men attending to them, that it seems and is frozen at night, and thus, in the course of as if a little fair, or bazaar, is being held on the centuries, a vast and solid mass of ice is formed top of the mountain.

which is sometimes 1500 feet thick. In the glacier We shall doubtless be surprised that the first which I visited, a long tunnel had been cut, through thing that attracts our attention at this famous which a person could comfortably walk, and this place should be preparations to make money out led to a fairly large room hewn in the very heart of of us; but everywhere through Switzerland the the glacier, and called the Ice Grotto. There were traveler finds people who wish to sell him some- lamps placed here and there, by which this frigid thing, or who continually volunteer to do some- passage was dimly lighted, and the sensation of thing for which they wish him to pay. As he finding one's self in the middle of a vast block of drives along the country roads, little girls throw ice was truly novel. The walls and roof of the tunbunches of wild flowers into his carriage and then nel were transparent for a considerable distance, run by its side expecting some money in return. and I could look into the very substance of the By the roadside, in the most lonely places, he clear blue ice around me. I followed the man who will find women and girls sitting behind little tables acted as my guide to the end of the tunnel, and on which they are making lace, which, with a col- then we mounted a few steps into the grotto, which lection of tiny Swiss chalets, and articles of carved was lighted by a single lamp. The moment I set wood, they are very eager to sell. When the road foot inside this wonderful chamber, with walls, roof, passes near a precipitous mountain-side, he will and floor of purest ice, I heard a queer tinkling find a man with a long Alpine horn, who awakens and thumping in one corner, and looking there, I the echoes and expects some pennies. At another saw two old women, each playing on a doleful little zither. They looked like two horrible old views from various points. At one place there is witches of the ice. Of course I knew that they a high wooden platform, to which we ascend by were playing for my benefit; and I wondered if steps, at the side of which hangs a little box with they always sat there in that enormous refrigerator, a hole in the top, with an inscription in three lanwaiting for the visitors who might enter and give guages asking us not to forget to remember the them a few centimes in return for their mournful owner of this belvedere. From this platform, which strumming. But when I went out, I found that the is provided with a railing and benches, we can get old women soon followed, and I suppose they go a clear view in every direction ; and stuck about into the glacier and ensconce themselves in their in little sockets, are sinall colored glasses, through freezing retreat, whenever they see a tourist coming which we may look at the landscape. When we up the inountain-side.

hold a yellow one before our eyes, mountains and And now, having recovered from our slight sur plains seem glowing beneath a golden sky; a red prise at seeing the signs of traffic on the very top one gives us an idea that the whole world is on of the mountain, we pass the booths and advance fire; while through a blue one everything looks to a wooden railing, which is built on the north- cold, dreary, and cheerless. ern edge of the Kulm. The first thing that But we quickly put down the glasses. We want strikes our eyes is a vast plain, lying far below us, no such things as these to help us enjoy those glowhich, to some people, seems at first like an im- rious scenes. mense marsh, partly green and partly covered While we stand and gaze from the wide-spread with dark patches, and with pools of water here plain to the stupendous mountain ranges, the sun and there. But when the eye becomes accustomed begins to set; and as it sinks below the horizon, to this extent of view, we see that those dark the white peaks and snowy masses of the long line patches are great forests; that those pools are lakes, of Alps are gradually tinged with that beautiful on the shores of which towns and cities are built; rosy tint which is called the after-glow. Never and this plain before us is the whole of North were mountains more beautiful than these now Switzerland.

appear, and we remain and look upon them until As we turn and look about us, we see a pano- they fade away into the cold, desolate, and awful rama of three hundred miles in circuit. To the regions that they are. south lies a mighty and glorious range of snow-clad The view of the sunrise from the Kulm is one Alps, one hundred and twenty miles in length. of the great sights enjoyed by visitors, and many We see the white peaks glittering in the sun, the persons come to the Rigi on purpose to witness darker glaciers in the ravines, the wide snow-fields, it. On fine mornings, hundreds of tourists may be clear and distinct. Between us and these giants seen gathered together at daybreak on the top of are lower mountains, some green and wooded, the Kulm. It is generally very cold at this hour, some bold and rocky. Towns, villages, and chalets and they are wrapped in overcoats, shawls, and are dotted everywhere in the valleys and on the even blankets taken from the beds, although there plains.

are notices in each of the hotel rooms that this is The view is one of the grandest and most beauti- forbidden. But all shivering and shaking is forful in Europe.

gotten when, one after another, the highest snowThe north side of the Rigi is almost precipitous, peaks are lighted up by the sun, which has not yet and as we again lean over the railing and look appeared to view, and when, gradually and beautidown its dizzy slopes, we see lying at our very feet fully, the whole vast landscape is flooded with the the whole Lake of Zug. Three large towns are glory of the day. upon its banks, and a number of villages. A But the people who go up on the Rigi to make steamboat, apparently about the size of a spool a stay at the hotels do not content themselves with of cotton, is making its way across the lake. To gazing at the grand panorama to be seen from the the left, a great part of the lake of Lucerne is vis. Kulm. The life and the scenes on the mountain ible, with the city of Lucerne at one end of it, its itself are full of interest. Its promontories, slopes, pinnacles, towers, and walls plainly in view. Away and valleys are covered with rich grass, over which to the north, we see a portion of the city of Zurich, it is delightful to ramble and climb. Below the although the greater part of it is hidden by an inter- Rigi Staffel is a beautiful green hollow, called the vening hill. On the northern horizon, lies the fa- valley of Klösterli; handsome cattle, with their mous Black Forest, and the long line of the Jura tinkling bells, ramble over its rich pastures; and Mountains is visible to the west. Looking here the brown cottages of the herdsmen are seen and there, we can count, in all, thirteen lakes. here and there. There is a Capuchin monastery

The top of the Kulm is rounded and grassy, and chapel in this valley, which was built nearly and we can walk about and look at the wonderful two hundred years ago, where the Sunday congre

« PreviousContinue »