Mountain trains and cable cars are open again here in Switzerland. Another step to normality and, officially, the beginning of the hiking season. Yeeeiiii!!!! Now we can reach higher and more remote places. Before this, everybody was going hiking to the same locations, all reachable by car, and that meant that every place felt too crowded. I hope this changes!

Before the opening of the mountain transport, I went hiking again. This time we searched for greener pastures instead of looking for remains of winter like the last time. We went to one of my favorite areas: Alpstein. I’ve taken you there a few times already. Winter, spring or summer, day or night, Alpstein always feel like a playground for me. It’s quite challenging, specially if you don’t take cable cars: you can easily end up hiking up (and later down) more than 1000m and walking long distances. But the landscape is incredibly beautiful and idyllic: the three impressive alpine lakes, the rugged mountains, the stunning sharp rock needles rising high in the sky, the huge variety of delicate flowers covering the green meadows, the sweet Swiss cows and white Appenzeller goats grazing peacefully while they ring their musical bells… Alpstein is, without doubt, one of the most magical regions in the Swiss Alps.

This time we did a route that we already knew, just to check how fit we were after the long months of confinement. A bit long, a bit high, we hiked for more than 7 hours. From Wasserauen (868m), we hiked to the summits of Ebenalp (1644m) and Schäfler (1923m), before descending to Mesmer and Seealpsee and back again to Wasserauen. As the cable car to Ebenalp was still closed, the path was surprisingly empty and we could enjoy the ascent at our own pace and take extra time for the most challenging (sometimes a bit scary too) parts of the trail. I could even take a photo of the Aescher mountain restaurant (one of the most famous sights of Switzerland after being the cover of a National Geographic book) without the typical crowds that visit the spot every weekend! We ended the hike late, tired and very happy after spending the day in our favourite place again.

Here are some photos of this hike in beautiful Alpstein. I hope you like them!

PD1: some of my photos have been published in Lodestars Anthology’s new book, “Postcards: a photo book”, a beautiful book containing some of the photos of the magazine’s contributors, created during the lockdown. You can pre-order a copy here:

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 🙂


  1. As usual, your photos are stunning Mercredes. The one of the Aescher Berggasthaus is fantastic. What a scenery!!!

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Vero!! Well, the whole area is impressive… even if it’s a bit overcrowded sometimes (Alpstein is very close to the German and Austrian borders, so not only Swiss go there on weekends), specially the Aescher Bergasthaus!! It’s so so famous in Switzerland, and so easy to reach it when the Ebenalp cable car works, that on weekends it’s an impossible place… But we were really lucky two weeks ago! The cable car wasn’t working, so it takes 2,30h to get to Aescher from the valley… and it was cold and cloudy that days… So I took my version of this famous place with almost no people….Yeeeeiii!! 🙂 With or without people, is a stunning place! These Swiss are specialist in building mountain restaurants and hotels in the most weird and stunning locations!

      • So very lucky!!! Well done. It must be very tricky otherwise to take such an “empty” photo I suppose…

        • mercedescatalan

          I went there two years ago…. There was a queue to reach the restaurant because there were dozens of people taking selfies and so on…. so I just continued my way up to the mountain, I didn’t even try to take a photo… We usually avoid these crowded places, but the day I took these photos all the circumstances played in our favor!! Bad weather, cablecar not working and shops open in the city (in Switzerland, everything close on Sundays, so people usually spend the Saturdays shopping and the Sundays in the mountain, hehehe). Now that all cable cars, chairlifts and mountain trains are working again, we’ll hike in more remote places, not famous ones, hehehe

  2. A very scenic area with lots of craggy mountain peaks to add interest. Fabulous timber cottages, especially the one embedded in the cliff.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot, Amanda! It’s an incredible place… and one of my favourite for sure! It has so many impressive peaks, the lakes, the animals… and so many trails that it’s easy to evade the crowds from the “easiest” parts of the region and find more challenging and isolated places to explore. And there are a lot of mountain restaurants and farms, very high in the mountains, where you can have something to eat (I ate there the best yogur ever!!)
      And the cottages… some are private farms, but you can sleep in some of them!! Even in the one on the cliff!! Just mentioning it in case you’d like to include it in your itinerary when you visit Switzerland… are you still planning that trip??

      • Yes, one day I would like to visit and walk some of these trails. I will add them mentally so thanks for letting me know that you can stay in them. Do they have private websites to book or do you just turn up and ask? ( for the yoghurt and the bed).

        • mercedescatalan

          This one, for example, has a very modern website in German and English… Mountain restaurants and hotels in Switzerland usually have website, most of the time in German only… And in some places, the best way to book a room or a place to sleep (in a mountain Hütte is more common to sleep in a sleeping bag in a shared room with 20/30 other people than have a room just for you) is just calling the place. The problem is usually the language, as some of these places are quite remote and the owners speak a Swiss dialect of German. But I think things are changing and every year they update more and more their websites and it’s a bit easier to enjoy all these amazing places! 🙂

          • Good to know. In Norway, they call these cabins ‘hytte.’ Similar word.

          • mercedescatalan

            Probably they have the same root? I used to live in Sweden… Even if I didn’t learn the language (I’m still so amazed of how well Swedish people speak English!!!), now that I’m learning German I can see so many very similar words in both Swedish and German! And knowing that Swedish and Norwegian are very similar too, I guess they share also a lot of words with German, right?

          • I think they all arise from the Northern Germanic language. So it is not unsurprising.

          • And yes, Swedes and ask Scandinavians soeak almost perfect English. I admire anyone who can manage fluency in another language.

          • mercedescatalan

            I admire that too!!! I was so used to speak with everybody in English in Sweden that I though it was a common thing in Europe (all my colleagues in my Master at the Stockholm Uni spoke perfect English and they came from the Netherlands, Italy, France, Lithuania….)… But when I moved to Switzerland it was quite a shock to discover that no, not everybody speaks English, hahaha. Three years later and I’m still struggling with my German!!!

          • Some languages are easier than others. And there are so many varieties of German. I am still struggling with the there similar Scandi languages. Norwegian is probably the easiest so I concentrate on learning that.

          • mercedescatalan

            Instead, for me is the difficult version the one I have to learn!! I am still learning the “basic”, high German. That’s perfect for reading and writing in Switzerland. But the Swiss speak their own dialect (actually, there are as many dialects as valleys in Switzerland!), so once I speak German, I’ll have to learn the variety of Zurich Swiss German, so I can understand at least the people where I live, hehehe.

          • It sounds like Norway – so many dialects from valley to valley.

  3. So good to have you back hiking! You bring us to the most beautiful places. Congratulations on having some of your photos published! You are a great landscape photographer and deserve the honor. Today’s post proves that! Now I have a technical question. Do you shoot on manual? If not, what? I’m just trying to hone my skills.

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Anne!! I’m over the moon with these little collaborations with Lodestars Anthology… The magazine is so pretty!! And it’s been an honor to be part of this new book with some of my favorite photos!
      And yes, I needed some mountain!! I love my little Swiss town and it’s been fun to photograph all the spring flowers near home… But I needed some exercise, something physical and mentally challenging… I’m still feeling a but rusty! It was incredible to be again hiking among those rock giants of Alpstein… I just love that region so much!
      About your question. I try to shoot on manual as much as I can. I only use semi-manual modes (always aperture mode) when I’m shooting wildlife, so I can react faster if they do something unexpected (which happens almost always, hehehe). For landscapes, my camera has a wonderful setting for shooting HDR in burst mode. I use that a lot when the sky is too bright or when the clouds have interesting textures and colors. The camera is pretty fast and (I’m not very proud of this) I can shoot those HDR without tripod . So I have these three exposures and I can play with them later in Lightroom. I choose the right exposure and the camera takes an overexposed and a subexposed photos. Does this setting count as manual or semi-manual??

  4. I was watching a tutorial last night where the photographer talked about the dynamic range of the Fugifilm xt3. That helped me decide to try HDR for landscapes. Not sure how to do it on the Fugi but I’m sure it will do it automatically once it’s set. My D7100 would! Yes, HDR definitely counts as manual. And we should get extra points for shooting handheld!! Take care and happy hiking!

    • mercedescatalan

      I know a few photographers that use Fuji… the colors of their photos are truly amazing!!! And I don’t think all that color comes from Photoshop, hehehe. I’m looking forward to seeing more photos from your new camera! I’m sure once you get to know each other and without the extra weight of a normal DSLR, you’re going to take stunning photos!
      Take care, Anne!!

  5. So beautiful, Mercedes!

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Snow!! So happy you like it! I sometimes feel that these landscapes are so so beautiful that they aren’t real…. hehehe

      • Mountains are a great way to realise how small we humans are…

        • mercedescatalan

          I love how you described it! I agree with you! Nothing like standing in front of the mountains to put things into perspective, hehehe I think that’s one of the reasons I love to spend time there 🙂

  6. The landscape is fabulous, Mercedes! I love the way those huts are nestled amongst the rock. Fabulous photos! You are much fitter than me- but much younger too. Hope the birthday is wonderful, wherever… 🙂 🙂

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot, Jo!! So happy you like these views!! They are so different to your peaceful seascapes and landscapes from Algarve…
      Well, I’m not that fit, hehehe. Specially after these months of lockdown, these ascents leave me breathless quite easily!! Taking photos is one of my excuses to stop a moment and catch my breath 🙂 It’s been already two years since we started hiking regularly, like every weekend… And I always feel that I’m far from being fit! I hope I’ll get there at some point, hahaha

  7. Good to see the Alps and high mountains again with such nice photos 🙂 Due to COVID19 we actually have postponed our regular summer freshness in the Alps (usually in Austria). 💥 Happy hiking and greetings from Berlin! 👣

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot for your comment and for following my blog! I hope you like it!
      I’m sorry you can’t go to the Alps this summer. At least in Switzerland, everything is now more or less back to normal and even the borders are now open. It’s been weird not being able to go to the mountains, specially during the wonderful spring days we had until very recently! But now that we can go again to the Alps, it feels like a blessing!
      Have a wonderful week! Greetings from Zurich!

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