Though Switzerland is a sovereign country, it encompasses a true rainbow of cultures, on its borders are French, Italian, and German cultures each of which have lent their special way of life to the Swiss. The result is a country where most speak at least several languages and totally different cultures are often separated by a few miles or a mountain ridge. This is what makes hiking in this magical country so interesting.
As we hike the French area we often meet hikers on the trail. The greeting is always Bon jour. But as we enter the German area, we find the greeting changed to Greutzi or Gros Gott.
We stay at 3 star hotels in each of the areas and return to our hotels each evening after our hike where we enjoy the comforts and luxury for which a first class Swiss hotel is famous. Synonymous with elegance in hotels worldwide are The Ritz Hotels, which started in Switzerland.
There are scores of deep blue lakes, some so large that they require most of a day for passage by the quaint steamboats that ply their waters. There are beautiful cities both modern and antique side by side, which reflect the creative energy of these industrious mountain people.
There are ancient castles from the feudal past with moats, turrets, drawbridges, many maintained in perfect repair, reminders of the storied days of knighthood. There are ruins of Roman origin, which date back thousands of years.
There are mountain monasteries, like the one on the St Bernard Pass, which were operating over 1,000 years ago in the same way they operate today.
Verbier, in the center of the French speaking Valais, a principal wine and cheese-manufacturing canton, was originally a sleepy farming community on a broad and sunny high valley under the mighty Mount Fort at over 3300 meters. Today it has become one of the major hiking and ski destinations in the Pennine Alps of Southern Switzerland. It is a unique mixture of the old and the modern with hundreds of miles of well-marked trails for every level of ability. Known as the Four Valleys, the region offers great diversity and spectacular typically Swiss scenery.
Day I Take the Jumbo tram to the top of Mt. Fort at over 3300 meters high above eternal ice fields and an active glacier where there is skiing all year long. Return to midway and hike down to the village.
Rating: Easy One Way: Under 5 km Vertical 1500 meters Hike Time Down: 2 hours. Option: Take Tram down part way.
Day 2 The three-village hike to Sarreyer, Lourtier, and Champsec. These three typical Swiss-French farming villages are nested below snow-capped peaks surrounded by broad hay fields. Daily tending of crops and farm animals will be in ready evidence.
Rating: moderate Distance RT; 8 km High Point: 1642 m Total Climb: 200 m Time: 4 hours
Day 3 Bus and train to top of St Bernard Pass. Visit 1,000-year-old monastery still operating. Hike above timberline in a ~moonscape”. Hike Into Italy for optional lunch at a typical Italian alpine refugee.
Rating: Moderate Distance: 5-8 km High Point: 2469 m Total Climb:365m Time: 3 hours.
After the hike on the third day, we’ll take the train to the German section.Wengen.
Wengen is one of the most beautiful small villages in the Alps. It sits on broad plateau above the spectacular valley of Lauterbrunnen with the massif of The Jungfrau dominating the skyline. The village prohibits automobile traffic so it is quiet and the air is sparkling. German is the language of this area.
Day 4 Walk to Kleine Scheidegg along green pastures where cows are tended by attentive herdsmen to the saddle which then descends into Grindlewald.
Rating: Moderate One Way: 10 km High Point: 2061 meters Vertical 787 meters up, 1027 down.
Hike Time: 4 hours.
Day 5 Narrow gauge railroad to Lauterbrunnen then funicular to Grutschalp. Walk to Murren along ridge trail with great views of The Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch peaks. . Murren is a small car free village with many trails. Hike down to village of Stechelberg then down to Lauterbrunnen Valley floor and return down valley to Lauterbrunnen and railroad return up to Wengen.
Rating: Moderate Distance RT; 8 km High Point: 1638 m Total Climb: 200 m.
Time: 4 hours.
Day 6 Trachsellaunen Mountain Hotel. 1 hr. From Here the path leads through the wild, romantic valley on to Schurboden, and then climbs steeply to Obersteinberg. This is one of the most impressive walks in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. It reveals a deep beautiful circular valley with rich alpine meadows and sturdy woods.
Rating: Moderate Distance: 10km High Point: 1493 m Total Climb:583 m Time: 3 hours.
Train to Zurich
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