The Dog Minder
When spending a bit of time in the Engadin as the designated dog minder, there are several lovely routes for a stroll. Needless to say, I prefer those that include a nourishing conclusion or pit-stop.
About 10 km southwest of St Moritz is Sils/Segl Maria. There, you can park the car and head south up the mountain towards Val Fex. It is one of my favourite routes. It is lovely in the middle of winter as well as in the summer and is also a rewarding one.
When you arrive at Sils Maria and walk through the village, you are likely to witness an example of how to christen one’s residence with a memorable name that even foreigners can remember.
As an aside, just on the other side of St Moritz, there is a village called Pontresina which is graced by a road melodically named Cuntschet, so I assume that the phonetic sequence is Rätoromanisch. Is it a root or a prefix? I admit to not having tried to find out the etymological background for fear of it being a bit of an anti-climax.
The way up to Fex is beautiful in summer, but there is something magical in winter when it is covered in snow.
A dog might be ‘man’s best friend’, but a good pair of boots can come a close second on a walk like this. These boots have seen 26 winters with me and still have plenty of life in them. When I got the boots, I was told that they are US Navy Special Warfare/Special Operations standard issue for arctic missions. I do not know if this is true, especially given the oddity of having polished metal fittings that reflect light and give your position away to enemy troops in a flash, but they are certainly robust and weigh about a tonne. What I do know is that there was a US design patent granted in 1970. The Brunette is not fond of them; I adore them.
At the top of the hill in Fex is the reward in the form of Hotel Sonne Fex.
There, Susi Witschi and her staff run a restaurant that serves excellent rösti. The rösti is enormous at around 25 cm in diameter. I always take a half litre of Calanda and a Winzer-Rösti which is made with streaky bacon and cheese. There aren’t too many comfort food that is better. It is perfect for replenishing all the calories that you burned on the way there and those that you will have burned on the way back to Sils Maria. If you are concerned about calory intake, then run, rather than walk, up to Fex from Sils Maria. The ascent in the snow will do the job, but be mindful that you may be tempted to consume two servings of rösti once you get there… And then, slide down the hill…