It’s been more than two months since the last time I went to the mountains. At that time, landscapes were still white and pristine, lakes were frozen… Since then, spring has arrived, unusually dry and warm. The snow has melted almost everywhere and the green grass covers the idyllic Swiss landscape again. Or at least, that’s what I can see in my little Swiss town!

For the last month, the country has been slowly reopening. As the number of coronavirus cases goes down, more and more businesses are allowed to reopen their doors… But I find myself too comfortable at home and in my little Swiss town. Even if restaurants, cafes and shops in Zurich are welcoming customers again, I have a hard time to find a reason to go to the city. Maybe I have what psychologists now call “cabin syndrome”. I feel safe at home and I prefer not to go out… Well, if the country is opening, I can’t stay forever at home. So last weekend I forced myself to put on my hiking boots, take my backpack and my camera and jump in the car…

As it has been some time since the last hike, I chose an easy trail to a very picturesque and not very known destination: Griesslisee or ” Gletscherseeli” (literally, little glacier lake), a beautiful tiny lake at the end of Clariden glacier in the mountains of Canton Uri. The drive to the start of the path is already an adventure: the road takes you along the eastern shore of the beautiful lake Lucerne (or Vierwaldstättersee) and then it climbs the winding roads of Klausen pass, between the cantons of Uri and Glarus. The trail starts just at the highest point of the mountain pass, in Klausenhöhe, at 1948m above sea level. Even in late May, there is still snow covering the slopes at either side of the road. Up there it felt as if time had not passed and it was again early spring! As we started walking over snow patches, we rapidly arrived to the old glacier bed, a moon-like landscape of grey rocks and snow. As we felt a cold glaciar breeze on our faces, we knew the lake and the glacier weren’t far. Soon, we saw it. The turquoise little lake – sometimes colourless and grey, as clouds were coming and going, changing the light continuously – covered almost completely with floating ice, and the vertical ice wall where the Clariden glacier ends, surrounded by mountains. It is quite a view, as there are not many glaciers in Switzerland like this one! We enjoyed an improvised picnic with views of the lake before we went down to walk around it. After that, we headed back to Klausenhöhe and drove down the mountain pass to the green valley of Linthal, in Glarus.

I’m not sure when I will go back to the mountains again, but doing this little hike has been like having a bit of normality for a while… It’s not that easy to find hiking destinations in Switzerland these days where you can practice social distancing! So now I’m dreaming of the next hike… I hope it comes soon! In the meantime, here are some photos I took in Griesslisee and Klausenpass. I hope you like them!

PD: if you want to do this hike, please, plan it properly! There are parts of the trail that require some advance hiking skills and are not suitable for people with vertigo or fear or heights. Always check the terrain and weather conditions before a hike 🙂

13 Comments

  1. Goodness me. Look at those fold and fault lines in #8 and the switchback roads. Norway has competition from this traveller!

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Amanda! Well, as the Swiss tourist agency states, you can travel the world without leaving Switzerland! We have canyons, glaciers, lakes, tropical islands, impressive roads… a bit of everything! Is not easy to get bored here, even if the country is small 🙂 There’s just one or two things that Norway have and we don’t… Northern lights in winter and puffins in summer!!! Oh, how I’d love to see either of them right now!!

      • Indeed Switzerland is blessed with a varied landscape. But tropical islands?I can’t imagine that. Where in Switzerland would that be?

        • mercedescatalan

          Well, not really “tropical” islands… But with lakes of turquoise and celeste waters and islands, it looks quite “tropical”!! Specially in the south, in Canton Ticino (the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland), the weather feels more Mediterranean than Swiss and it’s usually warmer and dryer than the rest of the country! And there are little towns that have their own “micro-clima” thanks to the high mountains and lakes… For example, Quinten, not far from Zurich, is located in lake Walensee and have such a special warm clima that they can harvest kiwis and mangos!!
          I recently saw these photos from Switzerland: https://www.instagram.com/p/CAX7429F9WM/ https://www.instagram.com/p/CAafNidFlD5/ and they made me think about Caribbean islands…

  2. Beautiful! I loved the ice cave! I’m glad you were able to get out. Today I’m actually going out with a photo buddy. We’ll be in her car driving a river road north of Sacramento. It will be my first time in someone else’s car in 2 months. I hope we can get some good river shots. Doesn’t matter, we’re driving out of town! Oh, your descriptive writing is amazing. I hope you’re planning to create a book, like a coffee table book, from your blog???

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot, Anne!! It was quite an adventure! Short but beautiful and very rewarding!! I also loved that ice cave! I’ve been dreaming with walking inside one of those since I came to Switzerland… This one was too small and rocks were continuously falling from the edge of the glacier, so I didn’t risk it… But someday I want to go with a mountain guide to a bigger glacier and walk inside one of those magical blue caves!!
      Oh, the cabin syndrome… I also went to Zurich city last weekend… It was the first time I took the tram and the bus in more than two months and it felt really weird!! And there was sooo many people in the street (even if I chose the most rainy and stormy day of the month!!), and the shops open again… I guess I have to start going out, step by step. The mountains are a bit easier for me, but right now, with the good weather, popular places are also packed (Instagram’s fault!!), so it’s not easy either to find quite places right now…
      I have though about a book! Two years ago, my brother gave me for Christmas a book with all my blog posts and photos… It wasn’t my idea of a book, but it looks incredible!!! Maybe in the future, when I have explored all Swiss cantons or something like that, I publish a book about it… with nature and city photos… At least something for me!!! 🙂

  3. Majestic – and I can just feel all that fresh air!

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Snow!! It was quite cold, specially considering that it was almost 30º in Zurich! This is something I love about Switzerland, its contrasts! 🙂

  4. Mercedes, for the book, don’t wait. Include all the beautiful places you’ve lived. Some of us will never be able to get there, so we will rely on your descriptive writing and photos.

  5. mercedescatalan

    I admit it’s something I’ve been considering for some time… And sometimes I’ve even investigated how to do it! I just feel it’s a complicated step for me right now… I don’t feel my photos are good enough to attract the attention of an editor. And self publishing is too expensive!! And if it’s not easy to sell a print, I can’t even imagine how difficult would be to sell a book, hehehe. But it’s definitely something I want to do someday!!

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