I am back this weekend from my very first Alps hut hike of 2017!! You might think I’m lazy, waiting till mid-July for my first one, but the high alpine season is really only July-Septemberish, too snowbound outside those months. There is of course, the lower, quieter stuff, but those don’t steal my heart the same way a dramatic icefall or scrambling, butt-flopping marmot do. This weekend was a great hike- relatively easy by alpine standards (only 900m/3,000ft), but with huge scenery payoffs. It got me thinking, though, about my all time favorite hikes, and since I have a thing for a good listicle, thought it’d be a fun top ten. I included via ferratas, even though they are half climbing, because it’s my blog and I’ll do what I wanna.
- The Haute Route. It’s not quite fair to cite this as one hike as it’s really 14 days worth of different hikes. But man- this was incredible. If I could pick out a couple days, the walk from Cabane du Mont Fort to Prafleuri was out of this world (we stopped to take so many photos that we almost ran out of sunlight, even after departing around 7:30), as well as the hike from Prafleuri to Arolla, where I ate a burger I still think about. The hut at the Moiry Icefall still stands out as probably the most incredibly situated huts I’ve ever been in- I literally sat and listened to the glaciers for hours. But overall it was just so cool to be propelled by my legs all the way from Chamonix to Zermatt, two of my favorite places. I don’t think I can overemphasize how physically exhausting this trail can be, though. An uphill climb of 1600m/5200ft plus a usually more tiring amount of downhill was typical for a single day…now imagine days on end of this.
2. The Inca Trail. Totally different thing- what made this the coolest was the cultural experience of hiking down this stony path made centuries before by a mysterious culture. And of course the amazing crown of Macchu Picchu. I think the right word is otherworldly. Actual hiking was pretty easy and only made challenging by the fact that the passes sometimes hit 16,000 ft.
3. Via Ferrata Braunwald. Not too nerve wracking Via Ferrata with really incredible views. And quite close to Zurich!
4. Grindelwald to Schreckhorn Hut. This is another tough hike, one of the few T4s I’ve done (T4-T5 occasionally require specialized climbing equipment, but in this case only meant some extra ladders and exposed sections). I think the signage said it would take 9 hours (remember without rest, normally I am above the markers), but I was with some strong hikers this day and I think we did it in 7. I was dead afterwards though. Much better to stay overnight at the hut and relax a bit. Incredible views of the Eiger Glacier and the famous Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau peaks.
5. Seealpsee Hike in Appenzell. Proof that it doesn’t have to be hard for me to like it 🙂 A beautiful hike to one of the most iconic lakes in Switzerland, together with a necessary visit to the Ascher hut tucked against a cliff. Must have their famous rösti and a cider (moscht).
6. Schynige Platte to First. Another epic (but easier) Bernese Oberland hike high above Interlaken, one of the most breathtaking views of the same Eiger/Mönch/Jungfrau mountains, in my opinion.
7. Franconia Loop Notch. Alright, it’s about time I threw some US in. There’s less of it because I’ve had less opportunities to hike it! While I’ve hung out a ton in CO, there’s not really one specific trail I’m thinking of right now that blew my socks off- I’m going for really dramatic views in this list. The Alps, in my opinion, do have a bit the edge here, with dramatic differences in elevation instead of the gradual ones of the Rockies. But this ridge trail part of the Appalachian Trail has stuck in my mind for years. I wonder if it would still hold up.
8. Olympic National Park. I’m gonna lump all these together, too- although my memory is fuzzy of the names of the hikes. Hurricane Ridge was beautiful, Hoh Rainforest, the coastline…I just remember that a lot of them looked like below. There were also the most incredible beach trails- I remember us running for dear life to catch the most amazing sunset off the coast.
9. Franz-Senn Hut and the Tirol in the Austrian Alps. Hut culture is THE BEST in Austria. Maybe even better than Switzerland. I definitely give them the edge on food- I think about käseknodelsuppe all the time. Please bring that across the border. The views are also incredible, and it is cheaper. I need to explore more!
10. Aletsch Glacier Hike from Bettmeralp. OK, I ran this as a half marathon and almost died. But this is truly an amazing view of the largest glacier in Europe. It was surprisingly hard to come up with this last one- there are so many other things! I’m still thinking about the Maroon Bells in Colorado, and the entire Engadin area in Switzerland, and Ticino…but this is my spontaneous, might change tomorrow list.
Number 1 on my hiking desires list, though…the Hardergrat! This is a trail that must be trail run, however, as it is 27km of knife ridge high above Interlaken with nowhere to descend if you get stuck. But just look at these views:
On a more distant scale, I am also dying to see the Himalayas. Let me know if you want to apply to be a hiking buddy (I promise it’s an easy application- you want to go and are somewhat fit) 🙂