Winter is definitely here. It has come so fast that I almost didn’t realize! We were enjoying a long and beautiful autumn and suddenly, the cold came. And with it, all the colors started fading so quickly that I almost didn’t have time to glance at them… Now the temperature hardly reaches 5ºC, it’s foggy most of the time and you can feel the cold in your bones…

I had to go to the mountain to realize that the winter is here and there’s no going back. Last weekend I went to Sankt Martin, in canton St. Gallen. It is a very small village in the Calfeisental valley, dating from the 14th century. Just a few scattered wooden houses and a very small old church at the end of a remote deep valley covered by turquoise Gigerwaldsee (Gigerwald lake) and pines and massive mountains all around… Is is as idyllic as it sounds! Nowadays, this little village is used as a berggästhaus, a mountain restaurant and tiny hotel, open only during summer and early autumn. But the rest of the year, the area is nearly isolated, the roads are not maintained and the risk of avalanches forces hikers and visitors to avoid the area…

When we went there last weekend, snow hadn’t made yet presence in the region. But winter did indeed arrive. With all the mountain refuges and restaurants in the area already closed for the winter season, we were the only ones visiting the area. We could feel the solitude even before we arrived to the valley. We were surprised by the cold as we didn’t bring all our winter hiking clothes, so we decided to make it a short hike around the lake. It was really cold… The frost covered all the valley, that looked as if everything had a sugar coating. The water falling from the rock wall at the side of the road was frozen, and huge icicles were forming on the rocks. The whole valley had a blue hue, contrasting with the sunny peaks of the mountains, that looked very orange in contrast, and it seemed as if the sun was rising instead of it being already midday. And when we arrived to the isolated and lonely Sankt Martin, it looked like the tiny village was frozen, as if the time had stopped in the 14th century… It was such a beautiful sight!!

Even if it was a super cold day, I had a really nice time capturing the little details of this frozen landscape… The small leaves covered in frost, the frozen little pond in Sankt Martin, the icicles I found along the trail. I took photos until my fingers were so cold that they started to hurt! But after seeing this gorgeous location, now I’m wondering how it will look when the snow comes (not sure if I could visit it then, there’s a huge risk of avalanches in the area) or when the green color and the alpine flowers return to the valley in summer… This is for sure a place where I will return many times in the future!

For now, the hiking season of 2018 is over… But I’m so looking forward to the next one!! In just a few weeks I’ll be putting on my winter hiking boots and exploring white landscapes again… I can’t wait!!

Here are some photos I took during that cold morning and last hike of 2018… I hope you like them!!

Sugar coated leaf. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 70mm f/2.8 1/200sec. ISO100
Icicles. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 39mm f/2.8 1/100sec. ISO100
Frost. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 70mm f/2.8 1/100sec. ISO100
Sankt Martin in Calfeisental. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 24mm f/11 1/15sec. ISO100
Gigerwaldsee. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 70mm f/11 1/30sec. ISO100
Sankt Martin in Calfeisental. Canon EOS 5d Mark IV 24mm f/11 1/100sec. ISO100
Gigerwaldsee. Canon EOS 5d Mark IF 24mm f/13 1/200sec. ISO100


  1. Me encantan las fotos de Gangerwaldsee Mer!! Que sitio más bonito!! Qué ganas de poder ir a verte y ver aquellos paisajes contigo!! Gracias por estas fotos tan bonitas!!!

    • mercedescatalan

      Mil gracias como siempre, Car!!! A ver, a ver!! Ya sabes que aquí tienes tu casa para cuando quieras venir a ver paisajes de ensueño y comer el mejor queso y chocolate del mundo! 🙂

  2. Uy.. el corrector le cambió el nombre a Gigerwaldsee!! Jajajajaja

  3. Gorgeous! And that first pic looks like a strawberry coated in sugar, I want to eat it!

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot!! These little details drive me crazy, hehhehe… the little flowers, the dew drops, the frost… I find these things along the way and I forget about everything else!! They’re so pretty!! I think the “strawberry” and the frozen pond are my two favourite photos from that day 🙂

  4. What an adventure you had. And, your photos are wonderful. I love the frozen water shots since we rarely get to that stage here. I can only imagine what the American River would look like if it froze! Regarding your frozen fingers, they sell gloves that have a special covering on the tips of the index finger that will work on cell phones. That might make it easier to shoot in the extreme cold. I got a pair at Costco, but still haven’t had the opportunity to try them out.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot, Anne!! Even if I saw these things when I was living in Stockholm, they’ll always amaze me!! The frost, the icicles… All these tiny things create such a ethereal appearance. I just love it!
      The cold hands have always been a problem for me… no matter how thick are the gloves that I’m wearing, my hands always end up hurting a lot! Hehehe. When I go to the mountain I always carry two thick pairs, just in case one get wet… now I’m considering buying hand warmers and special gloves for photography, like these ones:
      I’m planning to go to Lapland, Finland, in late March, so I think the investment in gloves is justified… hahaha
      I saw photos of Sierra Nevada (Yosemite and other areas) with snow… it looks so beautiful! Haven’t you ever go there in winter?

  5. I have the same problem with cold hands. As they say, “Cold hands, warm heart!” Those gloves look super for the environment you shoot in. I haven’t been to Yosemite in the snow yet. I was there in February, but it was during the drought. Yosemite falls didn’t have water. Maybe this winter, Laura and I will make a BIG day trip of it.

    • mercedescatalan

      My grandma used to tell me the same thing when she touched my cold hands, hehehe 🙂
      I’ll have a look to these gloves. If I’m going to the mountains again after Christmas, I’m going to need more serious gloves for my hands, hahaha. Last year I felt such a pain after a day photographing in the snow… Every day I learn a new thing thanks to photography, even if it’s not directly related! How to dress properly in the mountain is one of those things.
      Yosemite in winter must be such an incredible experience!! I hope you can see it someday! I’d definitely come back to California just to see it! Hehehe. Uuummm when I went I didn’t see a lot of water in Yosemite falls or lakes either, specially in the Valley… it was such a sad sight… I hope the drought in California finishes soon!!

  6. Since I’m not a hiker and 75, my ideal of visiting Yosemite is in the winter when there is some snow on the ground and a lot on the mountains! I’ll order it up for this winter. Timing is everything! The drought is partly responsible for the bad fire season we’ve had this year. We need the rain, but not gross heavy rain storms that cause mud slides after fires. Mother nature can be beautiful, but cruel sometimes. I’m glad to enjoy the Swiss mountains through your lens.

    • mercedescatalan

      I like that image, Anne… a bit of snow powder on the valley and white mountains in the background… I’d add a bit of fog on the ground. Just imaging Yosemite like that makes me want to put my winter boots and go out!! Hehehe I hope you can see something like this this year!
      We had also a drought here during summer… everything was so dry that even the lower parts of the mountains started to look brownish! And it was sooo hot! Fortunately Swiss people take seriously all the fire bans, and I think there wasn’t any wildfire… or at least not very big (I read nothing on the news). I think the worst drought I’ve seen was in California… not even in Spain (we’re kind of experts in droughts and wildfires in my country…). I hope too that you have the rain you need. I’m sure that then, the beautiful California will be gorgeous!

Leave a Reply