• Badi
  • Pizol 2844m And The 5 Lakes Classic In Heidiland

    Tiina Kivelä

    It’s the heatwave in Europe (like you wouldn’t have heard already). And there’s no air conditioning in the Swiss home, which also works as my office. Or “works” as working productively in 30°C  is simply impossible. And so, I’ve found cooling in the IKEA (also nice cabin role plays they offer) and mountains,  and so on Tuesday I found myself on top of Pizol (2844m) and speedhiking the famous (and super popular) 5 lakes trail in the Heidiland tourism region, Eastern Switzerland.

    Pizol is not in any way iconic peak nor in the alpine mountain category beautiful and famous like Matterhorn or Eiger. But it offers some nice scrambling on the bluewhite alpinwanderweg and excellent views down to the turquoise Wildsee lake, the second by the classic 5 lakes trail. There’s also something left of the Pizol glacier, though like every glacier in the Alps everywhere in the world, it’s step by step dying (stupid climate change).

    If thinking of going, you may reach Pizol from the Wildsee/Pizolhütte/5lakes direction, or take the less popular alpine hikingrtrail from the south, trailhead of which can be reached by bus from Bad Ragaz (in where there’s also nice baths to take care of the wellness side, as the name suggests).

    When taking the 5 lakes trail instead, please note that it’s a very popular route (can’t blame though – the lakes and views are awesome), especially during the holiday season and weekends. Crowded paths and easy pace is more than sure thing in here.

    To save your time and knees, you may also take the gondola and lifts from Wangs/Sargans to Pizolhütte and trailhead, and end your tour in the Gaffia lift station. My Tuesday route in here – for me it was about 5,5h with short breaks, but I would suggest you reserve at least 7h for the whole thing, the 5 lakes trail and Pizol. Oh and add more, if you’re gonna swim (in every lake).

    I headed home after the hike, though now in the sweaty home office I do think I should have never left these waters, ice and snow…

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Ps. Happy birthday dear Switzerland! I love you and for this a silly but oh so happy face of mine.


    Where: Sargans – Pizolhütte – Wildseeluggen – Pizol – Schottensee – Schwarzsee – Baseggla – Baschalvasee – Gaffia (map) – Sargans

     

  • Badi
  • Best In Switzerland – Aare Float

    Tiina Kivelä

    It looks tempting, doesn’t it? There’s nothing better than clear, clean and fresh natural (running) waters, especially during a heatwave like the current European one. And there’s a thing in the Swiss summer I simply love which relates to these waters – a river float (aare float or similar). A version of which you may find all around the country.

    In Zürich, you can just drop in by one of the badis in Limmat river, like the Flussbad Unterer Letten which, as the German name suggests, flushes you quickly forward in the Limmat river, after which you (having been caught by the wired fence like a starfish) jump off, walk back upstream, and jump into the stream again – and flush!  And again. And again.

    There’s also more relaxed floating options in Zürich (Flussbad Oberer Letten, Frauenbad Stadshausquai etc.), as well as in Bern and Basel, all of which have kinda perfect river settings in the town itself.

    But the best full day river float adventure, the best in Switzerland, is the float from Thun to Bern in the canton of Bern (in the pictures).

    If you’ve been to Switzerland and especially Bern during summer weekends, you may have seen the crowds already, carrying their boats and waterproof packs, around the main train station and river. I myself didn’t have a clue what they were up to the first time I came past the wet-haired, half dressed, cheerful people in Bern back in 2016. But soon I understood what it was, and after having done it myself now I have to say – it’s one of the best things one can do on a hot summer day. As in here, you get the water, amazing mountain views and excellently good vibes.

    While for the normal badi floating you just need a swimsuit and a fouta, for the aare float you need those and your own or rented inflammable boat (or the trendy flamingo), and maybe an additional sup board like we had, a waterproof back or two with all your belongings which shouldn’t get wet, and some snacks and drinks. Of course, you should also take yourself to Thun, one way or another (I’d prefer train).

    In Thun, you may then load and jump in the boat (see the map and location suggestion in Thun for an aare float in here) and go with the flow, all the way to Bern. Along the way, there are multiple opportunities to jump into the river and float free on the go, but make sure you don’t lose your boat and gear while doing it. Many also drop to the shore from time to time, for a proper picnic and bbq.

    And when you finally reach Bern you hop on the ground, take a shower in some of the public baths by the river, and continue your day whatever way you fancy.

    Like, this slackline (yeah, just the slackline) looks tempting too, doesn’t it?

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Ps. You can do the tour by yourself/with friends, buying/renting the boat from wherever you want. Or you may book/rent the boat and a full package tour, from any of the firms offering Aarefloat experiences. Please, look with aarefloat, aareboot etc. for service providers.


    Where: Aare, Berner Oberland, Switzerland

     

  • Appenzell
  • Alpinwanderweg Marwees – A Mental Exercise

    Tiina Kivelä

    From a movie I watched recently I picked up the sentence go beyond your body’s complaints. In there it was said by a person with not so good intentions, but for me, it pretty much sums up most of my exercises and mountain endeavours, in a good way. And for me, it’s going beyond both the body’s and mind’s complaints, especially when doing things by myself.

    I did the season’s first alpine hike on this Saturday, on a mountain called Marwees in the Alpstein massif in Appenzell, which offers a nice ridge and about an hour of demanding alpine hiking route, alpinwanderweg (further explanations in here), with excellent views (if you manage your nerves well enough to pay attention to them). And it was definitely a tour which brought me beyond my body’s and mind’s complaints.

    It was steep, it was narrow and it was challenging, and it was more than once I thought why did I come up here, head all dizzy and legs a bit shaky. But in the end, I did it, and even though the legs were mashed especially after the final downhill (total 17,5km, 1199m up and 1199m down, 6h) it was again one of those things which brought me forward, mentally and physically and trained my nerves.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    For the same tour (note that it’s demanding and only for the very experienced hikers) go from Wasserauen (in Appenzell region in Eastern Switzerland) to Seaalpsee and head up to Meglisalp from there. Then, turn left and up from the tiny settlement and in the crossroad of paths on the shoulder choose the blue-white path leading to Marwees (or well the exact mountaintop stays in the left while you continue the path on the right side to the ridge) and eventually to Bogartenlücke and back to Wasserauen.

    On this tour, many were passing me another way round, so I guess it’s good (might be even better) the other way round. That way, you also have the excellent chance to continue the bluewhite path to and over Hundstein and from there down to Fälensee.

    This time, as it was a very hot day, I did a little detour in the last section, to dip sweaty myself into the Seealpsee, which that time of the day around 6 pm had gotten rid of most of the day tour and picnic crowds and was just enough cool to give a brief remedy to the aching muscles and joints.

    Extra tip: Alpine routes aka the alpinwanderweg are extremely good for the skilled ones during the high season since the easily reachable sights like the Seaalpsee normally have almost (just almost though) too many people on the paths leading to there and back. This time lack of funds also kept me away from the cable cars, which is another good way to avoid time wasted in lines and crowded paths (and save money and get extremely good exercise). 

    And if you wonder, that wagon over there is the station bar in Wasserauen. One of the cutest I’ve seen in my adventures. 

     

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    Tiina Kivelä

    The trip was easy. It was no more dangerous than crossing the street, or driving to the beach, or eating peanuts. The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision. And I knew even then that I would forget them time and time again and would have to go back and repeat those words that had become meaningless and try to remember.

    © Robyn Davidson – Tracks


    Where: Wasseruaren – Seealpsee – Meglisalp – Marwees – Wasserauen, Alpstein massif, Appenzell, Switzerland (map)