charming chamonix & l’aiguille du midi


A few weeks ago, when the fall colors really started turning and I was finally starting to recover from being sick, we spent the weekend in Chamonix, France. Martin and Reese picked me up from work and after a quick dinner stop we headed south. One of Martin’s acquaintances from the world of rugby was staying in Chamonix for a few more days at a place owned by his sister’s family and we were invited to join. I was a little on the fence about the whole weekend as I still wasn’t feeling amazing and didn’t really know what to expect, but Martin drove and we visited and listened to podcasts and the 3.5 hours went by quite quickly.

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on the trail // brienzer rothorn

Our last hike of the summer season was a trip up the Brienzer Rothorn, the highest peak in the Emmental Alps, and with panoramic views in all directions.

The trip up the mountain was via a red panoramic steam train which has been operating since 1892 from the shores of Lake Brienz to the summit at 2350 m (ca. 7700 feet). We enjoyed the mostly easy path, catching up with our friend Andrea, and the views both into the valley and over the beautiful blue glacial waters of Lake Brienz and over green slopes towards the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. There was also a steep but fun descent down a concrete stairway making up part of the trail. For Reese, the most fun parts of the day were definitely the train ride itself and seeing some happy sheep along the path. Read more

on the trail // hoher kasten geology trail

In late August we took our longest hike of the year in Appenzell from Hoher Kasten to Brülisau on the geological panoramic Alpstein trail. Approximately 11 miles long, the hike begins with a cable car ride and panoramic views over the Rhine Valley and Appenzellerland, including views into Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Along the way, 20 signs mark various geological phenomena, layers and fault line.  Read more

on the trail // oeschinensee panorama trail

Last weekend we checked off the first of my summer hiking goals by hiking high above the Oeschinensee near Kandersteg. Apparently it is also one of the top 15 most beautiful hikes in Switzerland (which means I have a few more hikes to add to my list for this year and next.) It is also a Unesco World Heritage site thanks to the gorgeous glacial turquoise waters, alpine meadows, waterfalls, and high peak views.

It was a gorgeous, warm day and the two hour drive from home to base of the gondola was a good opportunity to catch up on podcasts and let Reese nap before hitting the trail. After riding the gondola up in late morning, we set off down the wide path meandering down to the lake past the summer toboggan run along with a number of other hikers and summer lake visitors. A few small hotels and restaurants sit around the lake and quite a few cows were happily munching in the meadows and lakeside (including just at water’s edge). We decided on the panoramic hike and took a few minutes for a quick snack and drink for heading up the trail.

The trail had some steep and rocky points, but otherwise we were too enthralled with the views to complain. After winding our way along the lake and up some steeper switchbacks (as you’ll see in the pictures), we paused for lunch at Oberbärgli, drink, and a mountain cheese plate. Reese especially loved stacking some rocks and splashing in the creek. Then we headed back through the higher meadows and when we joined up with the main path, we turned back down to the water for a very refreshing (though not freezing) swim. The weather was so cool and clear and it was nice to just float while Reese played with sticks and splashed on the edge. Then we slowly made our way back to the gondola.

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on the trail // hiking hoch-ybrig

A few weeks ago, one of my sister’s best friend’s sister, Hannah, visited for the weekend during a summer trip to Europe. She took the opportunity for a little detour from a stay in Berlin and we made sure she had an adventure to remember in Switzerland. However, after the hike we took, I’m not sure when she’ll be back.

It was our first trip up to Hoch-Ybrig, a location mostly selected because it was new to us, not too far from Zurich, and with good views but also just light hiking (especially as Hannah was hiking in Converse). Hoch-Ybrig is just a beautiful 45 minute drive from our place through the country and along the gorgeous Sihlsee. We chose to ride the chair-lift up and then walked along the ridge to Sternen.

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on the trail // rigi panorama trail

In early June we had another opportunity to share one of our favorite nearby mountains (and views) with friends visiting from Alaska. It was a beautiful early summer Saturday and we decided on the easy and scenic Rigi panorama trail followed by lunch and a stop at the Mineralbad. It was the perfect opportunity for them to see a bit more of Switzerland, enjoy lake and mountain views, and enjoy the day outside.

In our case, following a rejuvenating swim through the mineral pools, we rode the cogwheel train up to the summit at Rigi Kulm before taking the main train back down to Arth-Goldau and back to Zurich.

hiking details
The hike is an easy, mostly flat 7.1km and takes about 2 hours following the former Rigi-Scheidegg railway line ((1874 – 1931) to Unterstetten. We took a slight detour off the main path, which is stroller-friendly, onto a side trail that descended a bit down the mountainside before climbing back up and rejoining the main trail which we followed to Rigi Kaltbad-First. The panoramic path is excellent for leisurely family-friendly walks, but side trails can also be taken for a slightly more challenging hike.  Read more

on the trail // walensee waterfall walk

I’m happy to say that we’ve gotten an earlier start on our hiking season this year vs. last (though we’ve been stalled a bit in the last few weeks). Our first real hike this year was a beautiful, if a little steep, way to start the summer hiking season. It was the last few days of a visit from Martin’s sister and brother-in-law in late May, the weather was glorious, and we were feeling the pull of being on the water but also wanting to hike in the mountains. So, after a little thought, we headed out to the Walensee where we could combine a couple short small ferry jaunts around the lake with a hike along the shore and panoramic water and mountain views. Read more

swiss summer hiking goals

I’ve mentioned in my last few posts that I’m really excited about this summer’s hiking season. I would love to be hiking every weekend, and though this hasn’t been the case so far as Martin has been gone the last few weekends on sporting-related trips, I’m ready to get going. So, let’s start by setting out some of the places I really want to go this season. First, there are a few destinations from last year’s UBS summer mountain getaway partnership with Swiss Tourism. Second, I really want to explore a bit more around Ticino and in Graubünden, perhaps even around a long weekend. So, here’s my starting list of mostly mountain-top locations for summer hiking exploration. Read more

on the trail // above stoos


One of the best things about this summer is that we’ve really settled into a weekend hiking routine. Motivated by summer visitors and easy (and cheap) mountain access thanks to our car and UBS’s current mountain railway deal, we’ve been out on the trail nearly every weekend exploring a new part of Switzerland.

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