This part of the year is probably the best time of year for food in Canada (this part of it anyways). I think the variety, quantity, and quality of local foods is at its peak. I also love this time of year because the days are fairly warm and mostly sunny but the nights are cool and crisp, and the leaves are just starting to change. I look forward to autumn, though I like every season.
Lately, from both my backyard garden and the one I help out at, I have been harvesting lots of tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as some various kinds of squash, hot peppers, and carrots among other things. Most of the squash and the root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and onion I am living on the plants or in the ground because I know they’ll last for a while longer there and with the abundance of tomatoes I’ve been eating a lot of tomato dishes. Today I made a chick pea curry using an heirloom tomats and hot peppers that I picked fresh (along with various other ingredients), which I garnished with green zebra tomatoes and parsley (as a substitute for cilantro) that I also picked fresh. Instead of utensils I made whole wheat paratha and ate it with that.
Here is a picture of a couple of the green zebra tomatoes we have growing, I had never seen them before the fruits appeared on the plants so that made them interesting. According to Wikipedia “Green Zebra was bred by Tom Wagner of Everett, Washington, and introduced in his Tater-Mater Seed Catalog in 1983. It is not an heirloom tomato, despite often being mistakenly designated as one.” They look neat and have lots of flavour too. Also picture is on of the squashes (an acorn) I picked, and the peppers. I don’t know the variety of pepper, and I haven’t tried one on it’s own but when pruning some tomatoes recently the other person I manage the garden with tried one and said it was fairly hot. The curry didn’t turn out that hot though (I used two to make two bowls of curry). I supposed I should just try one myself to see how hot they are.
This might be my last trip-related post on here, as I think I have posted all my photos now. This last batch is from two separate hikes I did in Bergen up Mount Fløyen, the most accessible of the small mountains surrounding the city. Making Fløyen really popular is the fact that it is quite centrally located, and it has a funicular that goes up to a restaurant/gift shop area on the mountain. I chose to forgo this and walk up.
Leaving from the tourist centre of the city, near Bryggen and Bergen’s well-known fish market, the walk up to the top of the funicular takes one along a fairly steep but paved path through lush green forest. Vegetation is thick, and there are lots of small creeks and streams running down the hillside. At the top of the funicular there are a number of trails that split off going further up the mountain. The hiking even beyond the station was surprisingly easy with many of the trails being well-maintained and even paved, the scenery around the trails changes dramatically. Walking past the station I took to one of the main trails, on the first hike leaving it for one leading to a small pond named Brushytten to have lunch.
After that I returned to the larger trail, heading towards Vidden, the plateau that would be my ultimate destination. The plateau, though easily accessible via maintained trails, take one through some really beautiful natural scenery that it’s hard to believe you just left the city less then two hours ago. By the time one reaches the rocky cliffs that form the plateau the vegetation has already changed to a more Boreal forest kind of vegetation. The plateau itself is again starkly different, resembling arctic tundra with the exception of some small patches of scraggly trees. The weather also changes dramatically, the wind was blowing hard and it felt much colder when I was there. Both times the weather kept me from staying up there too long. The views were amazing though, small lakes and ponds dot the rocky plateau, and to one side is Bergen and the ocean, and to the other side are snow mountains and a noticeable absence of humanity. I really liked this hike for that reason, two hours after being right in the I had been able to pass through lush green forests, then arrive on a mountainous plateau, in relatively pristine condition it seemed, and look inland and just see more untouched land and mountains. You can get the best of both worlds: the natural and the man-made.
A funny thing happened the second time I hiked up though. When walking up the trail I found myself amongst hundreds of Norwegians all decked out in serious outdoor gear. Was this that popular of a weekend activity in Bergen? Why are these people all so seriously equipped? I even saw soldiers. I later found out that it was the day of a early event where people run/walk between all seven of the local mountains surrounding Bergen.
I hope it has been enjoyable to read about and see pictures from my trip, stayed tuned for updates on the upcoming harvest coming out of my gardens.
Here are the final few pictures from Gimmelwald, just some pictures of scenery and buildings from around the village. Worth noting, the one sort of large building pictured is the town’s school house where they teach all grades (and teach them three languages while in the process). This was one of my favourite stops of the trip, really different from any other place I stayed in many respects. It was the most secluded place I stayed, had the fewest tourists, the quietest, the freshest air and cleanest water. Basically it was the place where the state of the natural environment has been the most preserved, a challenge given the population of central Europe. I think it is taken for granted how much easier it is to find untouched nature in Canada, as even in the Swiss Alps, it seems much harder to find places out of reach of development or cultivation.
Murren is the village next to Gimmelwald and is known for a few reasons. First, like Gimmelwald, it is close to the Schilthorn. Second, at 1650m it is the highest permanently inhabited village in the canton of Bern. And last, it hosts the “International Inferno Race” which at 15.8 km is the longest as well as largest amateur ski race in the world. Like Gimmelwald, there are no public roads accessing it so you have to take a cable car or walk up. The walk from Gimmelwald to Murren takes about a half hour on a paved walking path, so while not really hiking it still offers great views of the valley. I had to go to Murren to get some groceries so I took these pictures. With 45o people, Murren is larger than Gimmelwald (pop. 140) and has more amenities such as a grocery store, sports store, souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels. They also have cool fire hydrants.
Here’s a few more pictures from the Gimmelwald. These pictures are from another hike a went on, this one was about half the time of the other one and only went up to 1631 metres and was point-to-point as opposed to a loop. Where it does take you though is to the head of the river that runs through the valley. The river head, called the Chilchbalm is a large bowl at the end of the valley where much of the melt water from the surrounding mountains converges. All the pictures in this post, with the exception of the waterfall close-up which is from the beginning of the trail, are from around the Chilchbalm at the end of the trail. It was a different sort of scenery being at the bottom of the valley as opposed to up high. It doesn’t quite have the same panoramic views looking down at the valley, but I thought it was just a pleasing to be in the forested valley looking up at the surrounding peaks. And the same peaceful (near) solitude was there to be enjoyed.
I still have a bunch of pictures from Gimmelwald that I want to put up so I will be uploading them as part of a few different posts. The first post will be pictures from my hike to the base of the Schilthorn. The Schilthorn is probably most famous for the revolving restaurant on top which was featured in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I didn’t go all the way up the Schilthorn as the snow made the trail impassable, the cable car to get there was running but it didn’t seem worth it if I couldn’t hike up. Where my hike did take me was from Gimmelwald, elevation 1303m, to the Rotstockhutte (a restaurant that operates in the summer) at about 2040m. The scenery throughout the hike was beautiful, the mountain air was cool and fresh, and there were few sounds aside from the rumble of avalanches up on the peaks. The downside however was, after just over two hours of hiking I arrived at the Rotsockhutte only to open my bag and realize I had forgotten the lunch I made in the hostel kitchen, which means I had to hike over two hours back on an empty stomach which made me want to rush back a little more and enjoy my surroundings less. I wasn’t alone in this however as just as I went to head back two fellow hikers that were staying at the hostel arrived, expecting to find an open restaurant. They too had to head back on empty stomachs. The recent snow also made the hike back (the route was a loop, not point-to-point) quite wet and slippery, and canvas Vans with wore out soles are not the best footwear for snow and mud. Eventually I made it back though and enjoyed my lunch on the hostel’s patio overlooking the valley. In the end though it was definitely worth it, I enjoyed the being more or less alone in nature (I only saw two people in the four hours), the views, the mountain air, and being active in the outdoors. All the pictures in this post are from the hike I just described, they show the surrounding mountains (look for some small avalanches), the Rotstockhutte, and Gimmelwald as seen from the trail.
After reading a friend’s post about the National Parks Project I decided to check the website for it out, I’m not going to write about the project or website itself as you can read about it in the linked post, or check out the website yourself. Rather, it reminded my of another trip I went on nine years ago with my parents, driving from Uxbridge to Lethbridge, Alberta. From there we were able to take day trips to a number of places including Waterton Lakes National Park, one of the parks featured in the National Parks Project. I would say that Waterton Lakes is one of, if not the, most beautiful place I have ever seen. I think the place has something that even the Alps doesn’t have. Europe has a much higher population density and is much more developed. This was beneficial to me as a traveler because it meant that so much of the Alps was accessible by public transit and the rail system, if it hadn’t been then I couldn’t have seen it. The Rockies by comparison aren’t as accessible when you are traveling without a car, but the upside of this inaccessibility is the fact that much of the Rockies are just that, inaccessible and remote. There is more untouched nature, and there is a much stronger feeling of being on the frontier of civilization. And the feeling I had upon seeing the Rockies of Waterton Lakes for the first time as we drove across the plains is indescribable. Many people put down the prairies as being dull but I think it might be the prairies that makes the mountains what they are and I think to truly experience them you have to come to the Rockies from the prairies. I would love to be able to travel by land across the country again and return to Waterton Lakes, but for now I will have to make do with what the National Parks Project has to offer me. Check out the website here: National Parks Project, check out the Waterton Lakes feature, but all the other parks featured are worth checking out on there, or probably even going to if you get the chance.