Category Archives: Switzerland

WALSA-Weg: Oberterzen to Murg

Oberterzen – Murg, 5km

Philippe joined me for the last stretch of the WALSA-Weg today : )!

This stretch started with a gondola up to Obertersen and all the way we were rewarded with a great views of the deep-blue Walensee and ever color-changing Churfirsten.

WALSA-Weg (Walensee-Sargans Trail), Mels to Bad Ragaz

WALSA-Weg (WALensee-SArgans Trail)
Mels (near Sargans) to Bad Ragaz, 23 km

This hike was a series of challenges from the very beginning: a wrong bus information forced me to walk from the bottom of the valley instead of from Vermol, a further 4 km uphill hike including lovely 500 m of altitude. Well, off I go.

After already walking 2 hours, the path was suddenly marked “Gesperrt (Closed off)”!  While I was looking at this sign in disbelief, “why now?  why this sign not before?”, a car passed by.  I quickly waived at  the car to stop and asked two locals in the vehicle:
Is it really closed off?  Can’t I go anyway?  Do I really have to walk back 2 hours the same way!?

The man told me that it was due to a landslide and the path was closed off. Then the woman who seems to be his mother looked at me from the top to the bottom and said, “If you are careful, you can manage. But you have to be careful.” With her blessing, I decided to go ahead. I could turn back if it was too risky, I concluded myself.

After walking downhill a while, surely enough,  I came to a more than 45-degree slope and saw a bridge gone with a landslide.
Very slowly one step after another, without much elegance, I managed to cross to the other side and to continue on the safe ground. Phew!

Next came another dangerously half-way fallen bridge over the stream! I tried to test the bridge but it looked wobbly. The stream was narrow so not dangerous, but I did not want to get my shoes wet or slip on and twist my ankle. On this path I have not seen any other hiker yet and I cannot expect anyone to rescue me in case of an accident….. A few good stones to hop on helped me to make it safely to the other side. Second done!

As the last challenge of today (enough for one day!), several gigantic fallen trees  blocked the path completely and forced me to go back to the paved street : (

But I met a delightful Swiss couple, Claudia & Gion from Chur, who used to live in Japan over 10 years and speak very good Japanese. We hiked together for more than an hour with Gion talking about his experience in teaching psychology and with Claudia about doing Nishinjin-ori in Kyoto! The couple seems to be in their 70s but they have no problem walking up 500m non-stop.  Some Swiss are impressively fit!

This amazing encounter and the fantastic view of the Rhein Valley and surrounding mountains had blown away all the little challenges “on the road”!

Detailed route on the WALSA-Trail

WALSA-Weg: Vermol to Oberterzen

Plattmol, Mels  -> Chapfensee (1056m) -> Schwarzenberg -> Flumserberg -> Oberterzen; 21km

First going up to Chapfensee, a small lake above Vermol.

After going through a rather dense forest, the path opened up to a panoramic view of the Churfirsten mountain range.

At the colorful charming house there was a beauty!

After already 3+ hours on the “road”, 3h 20 min more to go.

Coming out of the ravine, the awesome looking Spitzmeilen peak was seen at the end of the valley.

At the last stretch I was rewarded with a view of the deep-blue Walensee and Churfirsten.

More on the WALSA-Weg

Tamina Gorge & Bad Ragaz

Bad Ragaz – Bad Pfäfers – Taminaschlucht (Tamina Gorge) – Naturbrücke – Pfäfers – Wartenstein – Bad Ragaz (11km)

I heard about this gorge last year and anyone who read the story of “Heidi” knows about Bad Ragaz, the thermal bath town visited by Clara’s grandmother.

The rather well known spa promotes its healing waters surfacing at 36.5°C. That’s lukewarm at best. In Japan, I rarely visit an onsen with water temperatures below 40° C. So we skipped the soaking.

Still, we hiked up the gorge to the source of the thermal water. Philippe vaguely remembers that he visited this place in a school outing (he has little memory of what he has done in school, it seems).

After we were informed by a friendly tourist office staff that our planned hike is partially rather steep, we left Bad Ragaz, heading for Bad Pfäfers (Pfäfers Bath).  It’s not more than an easy one-hour walk along the gushing river in the imposing narrow gorge. It’s morning and not many people around. We enjoyed the cool air in the impressively curved gorge.

The beautifully maintained baroque-style spa building appeared in front of us and after our picnic lunch in the sun we entered in the thermal spring grotto.

This 450-meter long gorge is impressive! The nature curved rocks only let a narrow sunbeam coming through. It is mysterious and awe-inspiring. We could see hot thermal steam bubbling up. A couple of panels explained where it all began and what we’re looking at.

 

After the visit of the gorge, the steep hike started into the forest and then down again to the historical “natural bridge” followed by upward wooden steps, which the tourist office personal warned us about.

We arrived at the cute town of Pfäfers, with an impressive baroque monastery church and the former Benedictine abbey (currently in scaffolding).

Bad Pfäfers
Bad Pfäfers
Taminabridge
Taminabrücke, a bit out-of-place supermodern bridge

On the way back to the town, we had another highlight: the Wartenstein Ruin where we could have a fantastic view of the Rhein Valley and the familiar Prättigau peaks such as Vilan, Chrüz and Philippe’s beloved playground Gafäll.

Back in Bad Ragaz an outdoor sculpture exhibition was greeting us and many others with more than 400 pieces, scattered everywhere in the town as well as in the beautiful garden of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.

More details on the gorge
Hike route

Via Alpina, Engstlenalp to Meiringen

Via Alpina section 9
Engstlenalp (1834m) – Tannalp (1974m) – Tannsee – Planplatten (2255m) – Reuti (1061m) – Meiringen (595m)
21km, 890m up and 2120m down!

A beautiful morning in the mountain. How wonderful it is to wake up to the snow-covered mountain peak view from the window! The Wetterhorn was already shining in the sun.

Good morning, Wetterhorn!  Good morning, Titlis!

A quiet walk from the mountain hotel. No one was on the path and I am smiling to myself to be able to walk with a magnificent view. Soon it lead to a narrow, uphill path to Tannalp, with a Wetterhorn view ahead!

After going around the mountain, I arrived at a quiet, charming village of Tannalp, with a white church. It seems to be off-season and the mountain hotel/restaurant was closed.

Soon to Tannsee, a mirror-like lake. It was a wonderful, lonesome early morning.

From the Tannsee, the path branched out, one to another lake Melchsee and the other uphill. My path was, of course, the uphill one and I started climbing up.  Higher up, I could look down the Tannsee as well as the shining snow-covered Mt. Titlis and the path I walked yesterday.

The ridge walk started, with the valley 1000m down. Lots of up and downs.

 

After a series of several small peaks, I came to the highest point, I thought… From there, however, I saw today’s real highest point, Planplatten (2255m), further and higher : (

The path looked dangerously traversing on the flank of the mountain. I told myself, oh well, if it is too scary, I can stop and come back. Fuelled by lunch and snacks, I took a deep breath and started climbing. Still I was completely alone on this path.

Successfully managing my fear and the path, one hour later I arrived at Planplatten, a large ski station.  The gigantic ski lift installation appeared all of a sudden, strangely out of place and in sharp contrast to my lonesome, middle-of-nowhere path from Tannsee.

Some workers were working on the ski-lift for its winter season preparation. I stood at the summit and watched all the directions. This place calls itself “Alpen Tower” and apparently one can see over 40 peaks. I was busy looking at the Bernese Oberland mountains, Brienzersee and its area where I walked as part of my Jakobsweg route…. Truly amazing views!

It was a long way down, but I enjoyed fantastic views of the mountains and lake,  beautiful farmhouses along the path and the forest of Muggenstutz dwarf (a Swiss folklore).

After 2100m downhill (!) I was happy to put my feet up in a hotel of the charming town of Meiringen.

 

Via Aplina, Engelberg to Engstlen Alp

Via Alpina route, Section 7
Engelberg (1000m) – Trübsee (1780m) – Jochpass (2207m) – Engstlensee – Engstlen Alp (1834m), 11km, with 1285m up and 455m down

Starting at the foggy Engelberg and heading for Trübsee.

After a steep uphill of 800m, the Trübsee was also in the mist.
But soon it opened up and gave me a complete view of Mt. Titlis (3238m).

While walking around the lake, the mist streamed in and out. It was so beautiful that I felt as if I were in a dream. I stood there, completely captivated by the beauty of the nature.

Heading up to Jochpass and looking back the Trübsee and the Engelberg valley.

Beyond the Jochpass, Engstlensee was shining in the afternoon sun.  A lone fishing boat was on the mirror-like lake and some were fly-fishing. It was so peaceful.

A quiet Engstlenalp and a traditional mountain hotel for the night.

Via Alpina, Brüsti – Surenenpass – Fürenalp

Via Alpina Section 7
Brüsti (1525m) – Surenenpass (2291m) – Blackenalp (1773m) – Abnet (1670m) – Fürenalp (1850m)

Today Philippe joined me on the Via Alpina hike : )

As going up 2000m in altitude was out of question for us, we took a cablecar from Attinghausen to Brüsti to gain 1000m.

Brüsti, today’s trailhead, was a quiet, charming mountain village. After having coffee and hot chocolate, we started heading for today’s hike.

We had cloudless blue sky and saw dramatic rocky mountain ranges. This area seems quite isolated and we did not see any hikers for a long time.  Soon an impressive mountain range of Brunnistock dominated the sky and after passing some farmhouses we saw a long path leading to Surenenpass far away.

Naturally, as it is always the case, we had to go down first to go up.  It was on the rocks and moraine.  We were surprised to see some brave mountain bikers on the path!

Finally at the Surenenpass

A white chapel at Blackenalp

A fantastic view on the way to Fürenalp, with imposing Gross Spannort (3198m), reminded us of some Patagonian mountain peaks.
We are smiling here in the photo,  but we were quite tired by then.

Going up 200m again to the Fürenalp ropeway station, we had some refreshing drinks with a 360-degree view of shining Titlis, Gross Spannort, Kleine Spannort etc.

Finally the Fürenalp cable car took us down to the Engelberg valley.  It was quite a free-fall cable car ride with 850m!  Luckily the boss of the cable car company kindly gave us a ride to the town, as there was no more bus.

We finished our fantastic day with wonderful Indian dinner at the restaurant Spice Bazaar in Engelberg.

Vilan (2376m) – a hidden jewel in the Prättigau Valley

Älplibahn Bergstation (1801 m) – Vilan (2376 m) – Älplibahn Bergstation (1801 m), 12km

A fantastic summer day with blue sky – a perfect day to go up the Vilan, one of the most impressive mountain viewpoints  in the Prättigau.

A very cute funicular Älplibahn with a capacity of only 8 passengers, operated by local volunteers, took us to the station at 1800m from Malans.

After some steep uphill hike on the ridge (I tried not to look down!), we arrived at the summit and was rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree panoramas!  The entire Prättigau valley in front, the majestic rocky mountain range of Schesaplana, Drusenfluh and Sulzfluh at left, and the wide valley of Chur and beyond. Behind us, the Rhein Valley with the backdrop of the Churfirsten. Simply magnificent!

IMG_3860
View over the Prättigau Valley

With an amazing view, a quaint and historical funicular, friendly staff and nice home-made cakes at the funicular station restaurant, it was a satisfying outing!

IMG_3868
Top of Vilan
Rheintal

Mont Bré to Monte Boglia

Monte Bré (925M) to Monte Boglia (1520m) to Bré

On my 5th day in Ticino, I walked to Monte Bré to Monte Boglia.

After some steep uphill, on the treeless mountain top I expected a great view but it was a very hot day (30+ degrees) and terribly hazy. Monte Bré (today’s starting point), San Salvatore (yesterday’s peak) in the south, Monte Lema, where Philippe is flying his radio-controlled sailplanes, and Monte Tamaro (2nd day’s peaks) in the east are seen in the haze.

Hiking down through the refreshing green forest. There is no one and it is almost meditative to walk in that quiet and peaceful place.

Read more on this hike:
http://www.ticinotopten.ch/en/trekking/lugano-trekking

San Salvatore – Morcote

A scenic hike from San Salvatore to Morcote, 9.8km

Our 4th sunny day in Ticino!

Today’s program is to go on the famous landmark mountain San Salvatore.

San Salvatore
San Salvatore

Getting up there is easy, because there is a funicular railway to bring me up to 909m in 10 minutes.  At the top, the funicular station was full of loud Swiss-German student groups with their teachers.

Funiculaire to San Salvatore - popular among Swiss-German students
Funiculaire to San Salvatore – popular among Swiss-German students

Unfortunately I had to share the top viewpoint with them, but luckily they left soon and I had the phenomenal 360-degree view to myself! The Lake Lugano, the town of Lugano in the north, Monte Generoso in the east, Monte Tamaro & Monte Lema (where my beloved husband is flying his toys) in the west where I was yesterday, and Monte Rosa far in the distance. Matterhorn is supposed to be seen, but it seemed to be hiding behind the clouds.

I was busy looking around every direction, checking the names of the mountains.  After around one hour there and a picnic lunch on the bench, I started a rather surprisingly alpine downhill (300m) in the forest. Some hikers seemed unprepared for this and had difficulties.

The forest led me to the town of Carona and then a little higher up to the beautiful botanical garden, Parco San Grato. Considering how crowded it was at the top of San Salvatore, I was walking alone almost all the time, breathing the fresh forest air.

Carona
Carona

I walked the path next to some enormous private properties, completely forested and fenced.  I wondered who owns such huge properties! This path was a series of serious downhill stairs and I remembered that a couple warned me about this yesterday….

Soon the beautiful Morcote village and the lake came into view. I had been here once and I remembered this village well.

Once in town I enjoyed a fresh ice-cream which smallest size was enormous,  before getting to our AirBnB accommodation to shower. But once checking with the tourism office, they informed me that my final destination is one hour away – uphill – in the heat 😦