Well we’ve officially seen “the most beautiful spot in Switzerland”. I guess we can go home now! Jk. But we did find a great spot in the eastern side of the country that we had yet to visit. Lai da Palpuogna was voted as the most beautiful spot in Switzerland in 2007 which we feel is a difficult thing to decide. With fall air forcing the leaves to turn we thought it would be the perfect time to visit the lake. As it was a 6-hour train ride, we wanted to make the most of it and decided to find a hike and camp along the way. We didn’t know until we were on the way but a section of our train ride had UNESCO World Heritage status! It passes through 13 tunnels and over 52 bridges and viaducts which allowed for some stunning views as we approached our starting point.
Making it to the lake around 3 pm, we realized we may not see it in its full beauty as the sun was already beginning to fall behind the mountains that surrounded it. We snapped some photos and chose to continue on our hike, camp, and return to the lake early the next morning. Our standards are fairly high as this point as far as hikes go. We’ve seen and done some truly amazing things. Of course no hike is complete without seeing our cow friends. Wild camping is illegal in Switzerland (as far as we know) so it was a bit tricky for us to figure out how we’d manage to camp outside of a campground. We heard that it’s generally ok if you camp above the tree line, for one night only, with no fire, so we hiked until we reached that point. We later learned of something called the “freedom to roam act”. It’s the general public’s right to access certain land, lakes, and rivers for recreation and exercise. This doesn’t apply to forests or private property and can vary canton to canton so we’re still going with the stealth mode option.
Our bodies were definitely warm by the time we made it to our “legal” camping altitude. We gained 660 meters (2,165 feet) in under 2 hours. We knew it’d get down to freezing overnight so we’d packed some extras. After finding a secluded spot off the trail we began to cool down and felt just how cold out it was. Enjoying the views from our tent we shared some much appreciated hot chocolate and wondered about the wildlife we could encounter. Chamois (similar to goats), ibex, marmots, and lynx were all things that we could have a chance of seeing. There’s only one bear residing in Switzerland and one pack of wolves. Sure that’s virtually nothing, but they both just so happen to reside in the same area we were camping in… of course. We weren’t worried, but it was an interesting thing to learn. We got some rest as morning came early.
Watching the sun rise over the mountains around us, feeling the chilly air from outside but staying warm in our sleeping bags has to be one of the coziest feelings. We packed up (leaving no trace of having been there) and headed back down the trail to the lake. It was a relief to be hiking down instead of up as we were both a little sore! Finding a nice spot to stop along the lake we had breakfast and waited for the sunshine to come over. The contrasting colors of the trees and the water was unreal. Swimming isn’t allowed here and we were thankful because it allowed everything to mirror onto the smooth water. Easier to be seen with the eyes, as we’ve learned most things are, but we did manage to capture some nice photos. Continuing our walk around, the light would fall behind the trees and it really was beautiful. A strong breeze blew over and small leaves fell off the trees like it was snowing! We timed our trip well and were happy to take it all in.