Waldhaus Flims: Early season snow and much-needed wellness

Narnia comes to mind - that moment when the White Witch has been defeated and winter is beginning to melt. For we are walking between frozen trees, their branches like intricate wrought iron railings dusted in snow. But above, the vivid palette of autumn rages in a froth of rust and sienna.

Our walk started at the Waldhaus Flims, one of our favourite spa hotels in Switzerland and a lovely escape from the foggy swathes that are Zurich in November. It is situated amid skyscraper pine trees that cloak the resort's Belle Epoque grand hotel, villa and chalet in a tranquil pillow of woodland. Visible above the trees are the jagged Tschingelhörner summits and the concertina-like Flimserstein. Our walk took us first down to Lake Cauma, an impossible shade of turquoise in the frozen landscape, then up through woodland and along a panoramic ridge to the viewpoint over the Rhine Gorge that we had set out to find.

The platform strained against the sheer drop, suspended above the impressive swathes of rock that looked like a gushing waterfall. The Ruinaulta, as the gorge is known in the local language Romansch, was formed 10,000 years ago by a formidable rockfall. Some 400 metres beneath us, woodland clustered around the horseshoe bend in the Rhine. A little red train, the Rhaetian Railway's Glacier Express, chugged along beside the river. Apparently the woodland here has never been disturbed by man and is a good example of how trees develop naturally when left alone. My mind boggled at how trees could grow on such steep slopes.

Onward, we entered this frozen woodland, finally reaching Lake Cresta. Mist moves across the water. The air is so still we can hear the whir of ski infrastructure in the distance.
The following morning, we awake to tumbling snowflakes, falling silently but so densely the treetops are obscured by a creamy cloud. The ground is already half-a-foot deep in snow. We can't resist: no sooner have we finished breakfast than we dash outside to crunch through the fresh snowfall before it is cleared. Later, a sudden bout of madness urges us to try out the hotel's natural pond - a sort of plunge pool outside a wood-burning-fire-warmed sauna. It is frozen over, with just an ice hole left for the mad and insane. I put one foot in, then another, and before I know it am up to my neck. It feels like a thousand needles are jabbing me all over, but it's wonderful - so refreshing to be in this glassy water. It obviously feels much better once I am sitting in the sauna, peering past the crackling fire to the snow falling outside, which is tumbling down towards the steam rising from the hotel's heated outdoor pool.
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