Au Naturel

Well, we finally dusted off the hiking boots that we’ve neglected lately. Definitely making up for lost time because over the course of 3 Saturdays we managed to hike in Switzerland, France, and Austria. All were amazing! We kicked off the unintentional extravaganza in our backyard, the Swiss Bernese Oberland area. After a short cable car to get us and our friends, Mark and Bryan, partway up the mountain we hopped out and continued up on foot. Most of the hiking we’ve done has had extremely steep and rocky sections but we’re always up for some challenge. When we made it to the highest point of our trail we stopped for lunch with a not so bad view of Lake Oeschinen! The water is the brightest hue of blue.

Lake Oeschinen: Oeschinesee, Switzerland

We didn’t realize how cool the air had gotten around us until we rested and our bodies had time to adjust. This was quite refreshing after the extremely hot August here in Switzerland. We coasted the rest of the hike, passing through cow pastures and feeling like we were in a movie… like a hobbit could’ve popped out at any moment. We looped back down to the lake and took a dip in the very chilly waters. Blame it on muscle fatigue but it actually felt amazing. That plus a well-deserved beer/milkshake on the way home was the perfect end to a great hike!

Lake Oeschinen: Oeschinesee, Switzerland

Next on the docket: France. Maybe we have a thing for Alpine lakes as this route would take us up to Lac Blanc, across the valley from Mont Blanc. This trek was an out and back which allowed us to hoof it straight up the mountain in route to the lake. It wasn’t until we stopped to catch our breath that we realized just how fast we were moving. We’d cut the estimated hike time in half (down to an hour) proving to be a great workout. Knowing we’d see much of the same views on the way down, a lot of the first hour had been staring at our feet; however, when we did look up to catch the view it was that much more awe-inspiring. Upon arriving at Lac Blanc, it appeared this lake may have been chillier than the last because not a soul was swimming! The friends we were hiking with were crazy enough to take a dip but certainly not for long! Again, the air up in the mountains is so fresh and crisp compared to down in town. Especially being near the water, there’s a noticeable difference and it’s a refreshing one.

Lac Blanc, France

Later that week we had our friends Kelly and Nick visit from the States, hiking being a must do on their list! Before getting into the mountains we drove to Bamberg, Germany for some city touring in a less touristed place. The region is known for their smoked beer and the farmlands surrounding the city were full of hops; we were definitely in beer country! The charming ambience there is so nice. The whole town is a UNESCO site primarily because of how well preserved it is. They managed to escape Allied bombing in World War II leaving behind the original infrastructure and feel of a past era. As for the smoked beer… it’s definitely an acquired taste.

Bamberg, Germany

After loading up on sausages and schnitzel we carried on to Innsbruck, Austria. Innsbruck is an outdoor hub, mostly for winter sports and has hosted the winter Olympics twice. Situated in a valley, the options for enjoying the great outdoors are endless. After catching a cable car at the bottom of the mountain to take us midway up, we started our hike for the top of Patscherkofel. Following a gravel road partway, we kept passing by cow after cow; it seemed as if they would begin to follow us before spotting a new patch of grass to munch. They’re very kind but you do need to be weary if there are calves around. The hike was diverse. It offered all sorts of different landscapes, from pasture to rocky to lush forest throughout the day!

Patscherkofel, Austria

After saying our goodbyes we began the trek back home. Wanting to make the most of having the car, we decided to take a detour. There was an art installation we’d found on (a travel site we like) that featured pieces of art, all of which were outdoors and in remote areas of Switzerland. We picked a few that were easier to access knowing we wanted to hike to the one that may be the hardest to reach. Easier is used lightly as we had to travel on a single lane road with a mountain to one side and a cliff to the other. Good thing Andrew knows how to back it up! Each piece had something unique to offer from how it was built to how it changed due to the environment around it.

Patscherkofel, Austria

The only way to reach the last art piece of the day was to hike. We arrived to the starting point in Tenna, Switzerland and realized it was already 2 pm. We’re definitely more about morning hikes over afternoon hikes for many reasons so we laughed at ourselves for starting a 4-hour hike so late. Not the wisest in our book but it did work out! This hike was one we’d recommend if you enjoy something unique. Initially we were walking through a field where we quickly lost track of where the path was. Good thing it’s marked every so often! We cut up through the pastures, some of the fences are electric and Andrew found that out the hard way… shocking. This farm had warning signs about the protective mother cows that we mentioned earlier. At this point it’s normal that we hike around cattle but we hadn’t seen signage until now. We did run into one during this hike, got a solid stare down from momma as we waited for them to move along.

“Himmel III” by Bildstein/Glatz: Turrahus, Switzerland

The goal in mind was the summit of Schluechtli. On the way, we kept thinking we could see the top but it just kept going up! We knew we were getting closer as our path started to narrow and the edges became steeper to our sides. This crest section isn’t ideal for those with a fear of heights. Quite literally climbing to the top, we caught a glimpse of the blue lady (art install), we’d made it! The interesting bit on this one was that she will have a counterpart in the bottom of the ocean near New Zealand, exactly opposite the globe from this one. They’re intended to encompass the entire planet between them, creating a new perception of the span and distance of a work of art. We enjoyed our views from above, resting for a minute to soak it all in and have a moment of pure silence.

“Transparent Earth” by Lita Albuquerque: Tenna, Switzerland

Hitting a road block on our way home, we wound up being forced to turn around and find an alternate route back. This was a blessing in disguise as our new route took us through a crazy beautiful and awe inspired area in Switzerland, Grisons. Passing by the valley, the massive mountains surrounded us as a storm rolled in… An unreal scene that I wish we had a photo of to show. We definitely bookmarked that spot as a place we’d like to return to… camping trip coming soon?! That’ll be the next of our gear to get dusted off! Shortly after our hiking adventures we headed to Copenhagen, Denmark. But that’s another story for another day!

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Tenna, Switzerland