Pilatus

A beautiful day to climb a big peak.

I’ve had my eyes on Mount Pilatus for months, since a local friend suggested it as a place for hiking and (in winter) sledging.  Andy had hiked there in the fall – walking down from the summit.  Today, Andy and I decided to visit and climb up from the base.  The funicular railway is closed (due to coronavirus restrictions) so we planned a round-trip from the Alpnachstad train station to the kulm (summit) and return.  It was a beautiful day and, though a bit hot and humid for hiking, it still granted us spectactular views. Read on and check out the full gallery.

Andy descends through the alpine meadows with views of the Alps beyond.

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Alpine view

Morning views from Zürichberg.

We are blessed with a view of the Alps from our flat, across the historic district of Zürich, the northern tip of Zürichsee (lake), and beyond the forested ridgeline that separates us from the valley to the west.  On a clear morning, like today, it’s a delightful view (below).

Even better, my normal morning walking route takes me straight up the hill behind our flat, nearly to the top of “Zürichberg”, the forested ridgeline that separates us from the valley to the east.  It has a lovely viewpoint, from which I have posted many photos (notably, a series of beautiful sunrises in December).

Today, I thought it would be nice to bring you a bit closer to that view, with a 10-second video panorama… including the sound of birdsong and joggers out for their morning run. Enjoy!

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Nightingales

The nightingales sing us awake every morning.

It’s 5:22 A.M.  Time to wake up! sings a bird loudly from its perch in the chestnut tree outside my window.  I sleep with the windows cracked open all night, so the early morning lights and sounds tend to wake me early.  As spring arrived, I noticed the arrival of a new bird, one with an incredibly complex, non-repeating song, one I’d never heard before.  It was mesmerizing to listen to it chatter away in complete paragraphs, then pause and listen for a response from a distant colleague on a tree down the street.  I’m used to the early-morning birdsong back in New Hampshire – where it seems hundreds of birds start their mornings at 4:30am every June – but never before have I heard a song quite this entrancing.  Read on, and listen.

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Hüttchopf ridgeline hike

A beautiful walk through forests and meadows on a clear spring day.

Okay: enough of the “street hiking” in Zürich.  It’s time to get back out on the trails and in the woods!  It rained the past three days, clearing the air of the haze that accumulated during the long March-April dry spell. Given a sunny forecast, a quiet Sunday morning, and an intriguing route, I hopped a (nearly) empty train to the outskirts of Zürich Canton. An hour later  I was walking past the church of the tiny village of Fischenthal, its bell tolling for a service that cannot be held, and then off the road onto a steep dirt track through a pasture.  Read on for the full story and more photos.

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Macro snail

Not the fastest critter I’ve ever photographed.

Now that my “hiking” constitutes long walks through the streets of Zürichberg’s hillside neighborhoods, I need to keep an eye out for the smallest of photographic opportunities. Today, I nearly stepped on one as I walked out the front door.

This little fellow was cruising across the path, literally 2 meters from our building door. I put on my macro lens, lay down next to him, and popped off a hundred photos.  At one point he looked right at me – yes, I think those are eyes on stalks – just the thing any wildlife photographer loves to see in a subject.  Indeed, this subject also had the advantage of moving more slowly than the pansies I shot yesterday.  He was making his way around and over the colorful white & red blossoms dropped by the chestnut tree outside our window.

He is perhaps 5cm long when fully extended.
I’ve added full-res photos to the Macro gallery.

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Hazy Alpine views

As the spring season remains dry, our views of the Alps have been hazy.

Every morning I climb Zürichberg to my favorite outlook, with its sweeping view of the city and Zurichsee in the foreground, and the Alps in the distance.  We’ve had a very dry spring – no precipitation since that light snowfall on March 30 and no real rain for weeks before that.  That has led to beautiful, warm sunny days, but also a fair amount of haze between me and the mountains.  Yesterday morning the view was relatively clear, and Adobe Lightroom helped me remove a bit of haze from my photos.  I can’t wait to get back to the mountains!

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Zürich wildlife

An albino rat explores Bahnhofstrasse.

When your hiking habit shifts its attention to city streets, because of the pandemic, you need to take wildlife sightings when and where you can.  On Saturday morning I enjoyed a chorus of frogs in Zürich’s Irchel park. On Sunday morning I roamed the old streets of central Zürich looking for photographic opportunities.  On a deserted Bahnhofstrasse — the largest and swankiest street in the shopping district — one little opportunity scurried toward me on the sidewalk.  This rat, an albino, popped into a tree well to sniff through the debris left by humans who’d strolled by the day before.

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