Although it was tempting to think of Friday’s climb of Piz Palü as a grand finale for my time in Switzerland, today’s sunny summer weather just couldn’t be ignored. With only a few days remaining in Switzerland – a hiker’s paradise – I decided to maximize the opportunity. So this morning I hopped a train back to Braunwald, where in March I spent an intense day postholing my way across the high country toward Schwanden. It was quite different today! Read on and check out the gallery.
Now in full summer, the train and town were busy with hikers and families (and hiking families) out to enjoy the spectacular views of the Braunwald area. I must say, it is very well oriented to families and children, with many trailside activities, playgrounds, and easy trails.
My goal today was the Braunwald Panoramaweg, a loop that begins at the Grotzenbüel gondola stop above Braunwald, climbing through forest to the top of the ridge at Chnügrat, then back along that ridge to a restaurant at Gumen, then onward across a steep scree slope and down, down, down back to the gondola. I extended the route by skipping the gondola and climbing from Braunwald. This route added another 300m of gain (and descent) but passed beside two beautiful waterfalls.
Along the whole route I could look across the valley at impressive peaks of the GlarusAlps, and to the location of another recent hike, from Mettmen to Leglerhütte. That hut, and its nearby peaks, were in patchy clouds all day today; I’m glad I chose a slightly lower elevation tour today!
From the ridge-top I could look down into the valley I’d crossed back in that March hike, and to the lake I’d been forced to skip in March; instead of snow, this valley was now filled with the musical clang-clang of cowbells. Really interesting to get such a different perspective!
As the trail left the ridge and began to traverse a steep slope, occupied mostly by grazing cows, I encountered a new phenomenon in Swiss trails: a tunnel! Indeed the trail passed through a tunnel cut into the rocky cliff, for about 100m, with occasional ‘windows’ to the sunlight outside.
Near the high point I stopped in at the Gumen restaurant – it was so busy I had to wait to get a table – and tucked into a bratwurst mit brot und senf. It was edible, but not nearly as good as the one I’d had on my first visit to Braunwald, over at a tiny restaurant in Nussbüel.
The alpine flowers were in full bloom, and it was hard to resist the opportunity for some photography.
On the way down, riding the funicular train down to the valley from Braunwald, I finally saw my first deer – a doe and a fawn, right beside the tracks. Maybe that sight is my true grand finale.
Be sure to check out the gallery – it was a pretty day!
Hike stats: 16.1km, gain 658m, moving time 3h42, stopping time 23m plus lunch. My route follows a figure-eight starting at the arrow and heading left first. The “Panoramaweg” itself is the top loop, based at Grotzenbühl.