006.05 Alpenpässe-Weg - Ausserferrera – Splügen
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You might assume that this is a short stage because it does not cover many kilometers – but that's not quite right. Before you begin: this is not an easy hike, but it's definitely worthwhile. Ausserferrera, the starting point, is located at the lower end of Val Ferrera. As its name suggests, the Ferrera Valley has a tradition of mining, and this industry shaped the area's earlier history. Mining and smelting of iron, copper and lead ores only ceased in 1869. The entrances to the mining galleries and the mines themselves are still visible. After crossing the Ragn da Ferrera river, which flows into the Hinterrhein a little later, you will already be in the forest. A little further down, you reach the area known as Magic Wood. Bouldering enthusiasts from all over the world meet up here to practice their sport. There are over 1,200 routes in this small area.
The route branches off and now you tackle the steep ascent to Alp Nursera – an altitude gain of 550 meters in a 1.5-km stretch. If you like mushroom risotto, you are likely to find its principal ingredient along the way: mushrooms sprout from the soil everywhere. But you should also keep an eye on the route, otherwise you will suddenly find yourself on a game trail instead of the hiking path. You will reach Alp Nursera in somewhat more than 1.5 hours. Goats and cattle graze on these pastures in the summer months. The route crosses rough terrain as you climb to the highest point of this stage, at a little over 2,000 m.a.s.l. There are stunning views back towards Piz Grisch, with the Haldensteiner Calanda peak to the north and the Teurihorn further away on the left. The flora is also magnificent: for example, you can find the rare silver thistle, a protected species.
Many ant trails cross the rugged path that leads towards Schwarzwaldalp. On reaching this pasture, the scenery changes: amid coniferous forest, the splashing of the streams drowns out the chirping of the birds. An old wooden bridge crosses the raging Suretta stream. You continue along a very pristine path to reach the Rosskopf peak. You walk past the avalanche defences with Lake Sufers visible in the valley. Then your route takes you under the pass road and along the right-hand bank of the Hinterrhein towards Splügen. You can see the remains of Splügen Castle on the left, and three peaks tower ahead of you: the Einshorn (2,944 m), Guggernüll (2,886) and Pizzo Tambo (3,278). This stage ends in the pass village of Splügen after somewhat more than five hours of hiking. The villagescape here is well preserved, with dignified Italianate mansions and sun-burnished Walser houses. It has largely retained its character in spite of the development of tourism. In recognition of its well-preserved villagescape, the Swiss Heritage Society awarded the Wakker Prize to Splügen in 1995.
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