After the brief snowfall of the last week, the has weather kept being weird this winter. Last week was grey, very grey. A thick fog covered the area of Zurich during the whole week and the intense cold made the streets very unwelcoming. I spent the whole time looking forward to the weekend. It was our opportunity to run away to the mountains, high enough to escape from the fog and enjoy a few hours under the winter sun.

And that’s exactly what we did. First, we checked the weather forecast. I’ve already told you about this peculiarity of Switzerland: while in Zurich it’s foggy, the chance of finding another valley without fog not far from home is high! There were many options, so we decided to go to a new place: Wildhaus, in Canton St. Gallen. This village is very close to some of my favorite mountains: the Alpstein massiv, where I’ve been many times before (you can see some photos from previous hikes in Alpstein in winter, spring or summer). Wildhaus is located between the Alpstain massiv and the Churfirsten mountain range. At the northern side of Churfirsten, there are some ski slopes and a few snowshoe trails. That’s where we went.

We took a chair lift from Wildhaus that left us at the beginning of the trail. From there, we hiked through beautiful forests and meadows, passing snow covered alpine farms. There was just us, the sun shinning and the footprints of wild animals crossing the marked path. An easy and relaxed circular route of a little more than 10km with views of Alpstein, Churfirsten and, in the distance, the Liechtenstein and Austrian alps at the other side of the Rhine. A nice walk to stretch the legs after the dull foggy week in Zurich. And in the middle of the route, a nice pit-stop in Skihaus Gamperfin, a small mountain restaurant where we recharged batteries with one of my favorite Swiss mountain meals: Rösti!

I liked Wildhaus and the new perspective we saw of the impressive Alpstein massiv. I’m sure we’ll go back again when the snow melts, as there are new mountain summits, alpine lakes and trails to explore!!

But for now, here are some photos I took during this hike. As you see, there were parts of the trail where the snow had completely melted! I hope it snows soon again and we can enjoy a few more hikes in the white mountains, at least before the official beginning of spring…

21 Comments

  1. Beautiful mountain views.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil!! So happy you like them! We’re very lucky, here in Switzerland we have the most beautiful mountain views almost everywhere!

  2. Some of the light in these photos is phenomenal! I will come back and look at these again.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Amanda!! Well, there was still some mist and the light wasn’t as harsh as in any other day with clear skies at noon, but that mist was nothing compared with the fog we had that week in Zurich!! Even if the trail wasn’t very challenging, I loved the new perspectives and the calm scenes of this winter hike.
      Have a great week, Amanda! 🙂

      • I miss fogs. I so enjoy walking amongst their cosy damp tendrils in the forests!! We so rarely have them here.

        • mercedescatalan

          I know what you mean… I generally love fog! It’s one of my favorite things to photograph, because it forces me to stop looking for big landscapes and focus on small things near me. And it always creates such magnificent scenes with different mood, depending on the temperature… I love it when the snow freezes on the trees, or when it starts to evaporate and the light comes through the fog, or when everything is covered in little droplets… but, of course, it’s not the same during the weekend, when I’m out with the camera than during the week, when I’m working or I have to go to the city or whatever… specially if the fog is so thick that I can’t even see the bus coming, hahaha. It was like that last week! And after a week like this, a few hours of sun feel like a blessing!!

          • Oh no. Not being able to see the bus coming is a problem but I would love it. The thicker the better!! I am so glad you understand my feelings about the fog. I am excited to see, come winter, if we have any in my new location.

          • Living close to the sea, you’ll have some foggy days, won’t you? I remember some foggy days in Dublin, they were quite beautiful!! But probably Irish winters are way more colder than the Australian ones, right?

          • I am not sure, I expect so but I haven’t lived close to the water in winter in Australia, so I am not sure. I think that fogs are generally pretty rare here, so everyone gets excited when there is one, especially me!

          • When I moved to Dublin I though fog was going to be a common sight… the river, the sea, the cold and humidity… London is quite foggy, so why Dublin would be different, right? And in three years, I think I saw a foggy week or so!! Of course, the foggy days all the photographers I knew in Dublin were out taking photos like crazy, hehehe.
            I hope the sea brings you some beautiful misty sunrises!!

          • Interesting! I thought Dublin would have loads of fogs too. I wonder what makes the difference?

          • I don’t know…. I guess it’s all about temperature and surroundings! Here in Zurich the lake is surrounded by small mountains, so the fog stays trapped between the mountains. And these past days we had something called thermal inversion: cold air stayed close to the ground while warmer temperatures were above (for a few days, it was warmer in the snowed mountains than in the city!!!), and the fog was a constant during all those days….
            I wonder how it works in the coast, cold coast like Dublin or warmer like Australia…

          • We have temperature inversions here in Queensland too. The city of Brisbane is surrounded by mountains and although we don’t get too many fogs, we do get temperature inversions. Not good as it traps all the pollutants and emissions from industry and cars close to the ground. I think it is common in large cities – look at Beijing!
            I know fog requires a high level of humidity, which we have in abundance, although not so in winter, and it requires rain overnight to create the fog in the morning – and we don’t get much of that…..

          • With a bit of luck you’ll enjoy great weather and a few foggy days by the sea, I’m sure! And if not, I will tell you when I publish foggy photos from Switzerland, so you can enjoy some mysterious landscapes 🙂

          • Oh thank you. Much appreciated.

  3. Que fotos más bucólicas !!. Te transportan a un mundo de cuento. Transmiten serenidad. Son preciosas. Enhorabuena Mercedes.

    • mercedescatalan

      Mil gracias!! Esta zona no la conocíamos aun y es muy bonita! Cuando vuelvas a visitarnos te llevaré a algún sitio así de bonito 🙂

  4. It’s been very warm in the French ski resorts too this year. I wonder what it is like in my favorite spot in the Southern Alps…
    Anyway, fantastic photos as always. Especially the light in “through the forest” and the golden hours photos.

    • mercedescatalan

      So far, it’s been a dry and strangely warm winter in Switzerland… And I guess it’s the same in the French Alps. Since I moved here, it’s the first time I’ve seen the snow cannons working in the ski slopes!! These last two weeks things are improving a little (I’m watching the snow right now through my window!), but here in the lowlands we’re going from 13º with strong winds and rain to blizzards and 13º again the next week… weird! I hope the snow that’s falling in the mountains stay a little longer this year…

      I’m so happy you like the photos!! The light that day was so beautiful!! Maybe I’m a bit biased by the thick fog we had in Zurich the previous days to the hike, hehehe, and it was just a normal sunny day… But it felt so good to capture some mountain landscapes with a bit of sunlight 🙂

  5. The photos are beautiful, Mercedes, even though I’m no lover of snow. 🙂 🙂

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Jo!!! Well, I’m from the Canary Islands… I don’t like cold…. But snow is another thing!! I love it because it transforms everything… and at the same time, it’s so ephemeral… I just love a white landscape!!! But, of course, I’m already looking forward to see everything green and blooming, hehehe!
      Have a great week!!

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