Alpine sunrise

A spectacular sunrise over Zürich.

Every morning I climb Zürich’s steep strasse and steig until I reach the clear ridgeline of the Zürichberg hilltop, with its broad view across the city and Zürichsee lake to the Alps.  Some days I am enveloped in the valley fog common this time of year.  Other days the clouds grudgingly give me glimpses of the Alps beyond the valley.  Today, finally, I was treated to a spectacular sunrise, with a crystal-clear view of the Alps and a sky painted with deep red sunlight.  I picked just five photos for the (must-see!) gallery, and share only one below.

2019-12-11-76853.jpg

Uetliberg sunset

A beautiful day to view the sunset over the Alps.

Today was a spectacular day to be high – on a summit, that is.  Mid-afternoon I caught a tram to the west side of town and hoofed it up the steep slopes of Uetliberg, the hill that dominates the western edge of Zürich.  I wish I’d arrived earlier, while the sunlight was still touching the Alpine peaks… but I arrived in time to climb the summit tower and watch the the clouds’ evolving palette of colors for the next half hour.  It was hard to capture the magic of this moment… but I’ve posted a gallery of five favorites.

Sunset view from Uetliberg, Zurich.

First, Grindelwald

Sometimes you need to close the laptop, grab a camera, hop a train, and head for the mountains. 

Today we took the train (actually three trains, a bus, and a tram) from Zürich to Grindelwald, in central Switzerland… and then the gondola up to ‘First’, where there is a panoramic view of the Jungfrau region.  On this blue-sky day, with no clouds and no wind, it was truly spectacular.

Wetterhorn (left) and Schreckhorn (center), from First... above Grindelwald.

Check out the photo gallery… what a day!!

If you want to follow our adventures, check the right sidebar: Follow by email or by RSS.

Bachtel

A pleasant hike to panoramic views on Bachtel, outside Zurich.

It’s still November and we’re still doing fall hiking, close to Zürich.  Today Andy and I walked from the little village Gibswil, over fresh dusting of snow and through pastures and forests, to the summit of Bachtel.  Although not a high mountain by Swiss standards – only 1,115 meters – it is popular for its panoramic view of the Zürichsee valley and the Alps beyond.  There is a road to the summit, which has a restaurant, a playground, and an observation tower.  Ok, the purist in me would normally avoid such a summit, but there is really something to be said for sitting in a warm restaurant over a plate of raclette and a glass of beer, enjoying the panoramic view.2019-11-30-76225.jpg

Last night there were low clouds hovering over all these hills, leaving behind a dusting of snow at the higher elevations.  We began our hike as those clouds slowly began to dissipate and the sunshine sparkled in the snow.  Sadly, some clouds persisted between Bachtel and the Alps throughout our lunch, and just began to clear as we snapped a few photos and descended toward Wald.  Fortunately the trails and pastures of the descent allowed many fine views toward the Glarusalps over the pretty valley town of Wald.2019-11-30-76314.jpg

I certainly plan to return on some future clear-sky day! Check out the photo gallery. If you want to keep up with our adventures, click “Follow” at right.

Hiking notes:

  • We followed this description, and its gpx file.  We made one slight detour (mistake). Our route ended up being 9.9km, 2.5 hours walking time.  Tram/train/bus from home to Gibswil was about 50 minutes; from Wald to home was about 40 minutes.
  • The summit Bachtel Kulm Restaurant actually has pretty good food and drink, and an extensive ice cream menu 😉

Uetliberg

A lovely late-fall stroll along the ridgeline with views down into Zurich.

As we the final leaves fall from the trees in Zürich – and the higher-elevation ski resorts start to open around Switzerland – the options for hiking become narrower.  I’ve had my eyes on one hike ever since my first day in town: Uteliberg.  This hill dominates the opposite side of the lake, above Zürich, and we watch the sun set over Uetliberg from our flat every evening. With a summit-top observation tower, a telecom tower, a hotel, and a restaurant, it glows prominently in our nighttime view behind the city.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

map

Continue reading “Uetliberg”

Paxmontana

A lovely 48 hours at Hotel Paxmontana in a tiny village outside Luzern.

I spent about 48 hours at the lovely Hotel Paxmontana in the tiny village of Flüeli-Ranft, outside Luzern Switzerland, for a research-group retreat.  One of those grand countryside hotels, recently renovated, Paxmontana is nestled above a valley with a 180-degree views including two lakes and several snow-capped mountain ranges.  Behind the hotel is a narrow stream valley echoing with the bells of cows grazing its with hillside pastures – and the bells of several small churches that enjoy reminding everyone of the time every 30 minutes, around the clock.Paxmontana Hotel, Flueli-Ranft, Switzerland.

Despite our short visit, the weather and light shifted frequently – from overcast to sunny, from light drizzle to heavy snowfall – leading to opportunities to photograph the same scenery in dramatically different conditions. I attach just a couple shots here; check out the photo gallery for more.

The valley is best known as the home of Bruder Klaus, also known as Nicholas of Flüe. Born in 1417, he is the patron saint of Switzerland.  “Despite being illiterate and having limited experience with the world, he is honored among both Protestants and Catholics with the permanent national unity of Switzerland.”   He left his family to live as a hermit in this tiny valley, and (according to Wikipedia) had a “reputation for wisdom and piety” that caused many to travel from afar to seek his advice and counsel.  Soldier, farmer, hermit, ascetic, saint – interesting fellow!Pasture near the Paxmontana Hotel, Flueli-Ranft, Switzerland.

Amden Höhenweg – High Mountain Trail

A lovely hike on the Amden-Höhenweg (high mountain trail), with grand views.

After more than two weeks away from Switzerland – in the sunny Mediterranean and the Baja of Mexico – it was somewhat jarring to return to the crisp air and fallen leaves of autumn in Zürich.  Within an hour of arriving home, I took a walk with the family to the hilltops above Zürich, where there were dozens of other families out for a sunny Sunday stroll among the colorful leaves of late-season forest trails and distant views of snow-capped Alps.  I was eager to get back out into the mountains.

It rained all week, and the fog rarely lifted high enough to see the hill on the opposite side of town, let alone the mountains beyond.  I thus had weak hopes for a hike this weekend; indeed, I thought perhaps the higher trails may well be buried in snow.  But read on about our visit to the Amden valley – there is good news ahead – and check out the photo gallery.2019-11-02-75496.jpg Continue reading “Amden Höhenweg – High Mountain Trail”