Last summer was all about discovering iconic places in Switzerland. We hiked three days in Zermatt, with the Matterhorn always in sight. We discovered the most beautiful places in Alpstein. We saw the Great Alescht Glacier and walked inside the carved ice cave inside the Rhône Glacier… All of these places are stunning but have one thing in common: they can be crowded. Specially in summer, these places attract flocks of people and that can spoil the experience…

This summer it’s being the opposite. Even if we’re revisiting some locations, we’re always trying to find new routes and trails, making our hikes a bit more challenging and, at the same time, discovering new views and places. As they say, we’re trying to stay “off the beaten path”. And it’s being great!

For our last summer adventure we planned something different and new for us. We’ve eaten at Berggasthäuser in the middle of a hike several times. These places are like little mountain hotels close to beautiful places and easily reachable, usually with private rooms and nice restaurants. But here in the Alps you can find other kind of accommodations: Hütten, alpine cabins in very remote and stunning locations. When you stay in a Hütte, there’s no TV, bathtub or Wifi. Accommodation is extremely simple. You share the room and your table with other hikers, toilets are usually outside the cabin and instead of showers there’s a basin with freezing water… But you have some luxuries too: unspoiled nature, impressive views, a sky full of stars in clear nights, silence only broken by a nearby waterfall…

As my brother in law was coming to visit us a few days ago, we couldn’t think on a better plan for a weekend adventure. We called the Hütte to be sure we had space to spend the night there and when Friday arrived, we jumped on our car early in the morning and headed to Innertkirchen, in canton Bern. From there, we started a short but very demanding hike: just 9km but with an ascension of 1440m. The path took us through a deep forest and then a beautiful green valley full of sheep and playful marmots. Impressive peaks crowned by small glaciers and dancing clouds surrounded us. We continued ascending until we circled Alp Schrätteren and reached the Hittenegg ridge. From there we could see larger glaciers and the turquoise waters of Mattenalpsee. A bit further, we could finally see Gaulihütte, our destination! A beautiful mountain refuge at 2205m above the sea, built in 1895. Once the warden showed us our bunk, we decided to hike a bit further to the Chipfenseen, a few tiny alpine lakes 300m above the Hütte. The perfect reflections of the mountains and glaciers around us on the lakes made the extra hike worth it!!!! After that, we had a great dinner at the Hütte with the other hikers and went out in time to see the alpine glow on the mountains at sunset and the first stars appear in the sky. And at 10pm, we were already in our sleeping bags, recharging energy for the next day’s hike!

I wasn’t sure I was going to like spending the night in a mountain refuge. But after the experience, I must say I loved it! The warden of the Hütte was really nice and helpful, as well as the other hikers that shared dinner table with us. The food was simple but great and very satisfying after the long hiking day. And sharing the dormitory with other 12 people wasn’t as bad as I imagined… (we were really lucky, not many people snored in our room that night, hehehe). I will definitively repeat the experience!!

And now, here are some photos I took during the first day of this weekend adventure. I hope you like them!

PD: I have an exciting announcement!! My photos are being published!! Some of my photos from Switzerland are included in the latest issue of Lodestars Anthology, one of the most beautiful and inspiring travel magazines that you can find! The magazine will be out in September, but if you want to preorder it, you can do it here: https://www.lodestarsanthology.co.uk/issue-12-switzerland

4 Comments

  1. Enhorabuena, Mer. Me alegro de que publiquen tus fotos, son preciosas y tu manera de describir los sitios que fotografías, te ayudan a que la visibilidad sea mas autentica.
    Felicidades y a continuar con tu buena y bonita afición 😘😘

    • mercedescatalan

      Mil gracias, María!! Ver mis fotos publicadas en una revista es un sueño… y ésta es una de las más bonitas que conozco, así que me hace doble ilusión!! Ya queda poquito para tener la revista en mis manos 🙂

  2. Congratulations on being published! Beautiful images in this post. Imagine how many people will never see this. Thanks for taking us there! Is the bunkhouse host really called the Warden? Does that have a different meaning other than the person in charge of a prison? This also reminds me of my hostel adventures, which I found delightful. Although we did spend the extra bucks for a private bedroom. We shared the bathroom and the water wasn’t really hot! But my friend and I met wonderful people.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Anne!!! I’m super excited about the magazine… I never imagined I would see my photos printed this way and people would even read a piece I wrote! I’m over the clouds right now!!
      I loved spending the night in a traditional hutte. It was quite fun!! And an unique opportunity to see the Alps as I never saw them before: the stars, the sunset and sunrise in a super remote area, meeting other hikers like us… it was very unique experience!! Such a pity I won’t be able to repeat until next summer… most of them close in September already (I’m right now in Spain!)…
      I think they use the word warden… when I was writing the post I looked in the SAC website (the Swiss alpine club, they own and mantain most of the Hütten in Switzerland) and they use this word. In German is “Wirt”, most like “host”… But I guess the tasks of a hütte warden are more than the task of a host… hehehe. And in this kind of hutte, private rooms or bathrooms are something rare!! Only the newest have something like this, and the price of these comodities is way higher!!! The traditional Hütten are like Gaulihütte, shared bedrooms and a unique “toilet” outside the main building… (more like a hole in the earth with a roof…😂)

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