Tag Archives: switzerland

Alone in the Mountains [Schonbielhutte]

14 Oct 15
Heidi Kumm
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3 comments
schonbielhutte

There were only a few hours between my “I should go somewhere” thoughts and my “hop on a train” actions but I did do a little Google’ing to get a feel for the trails in the Zermatt area. The Schonbielhutte was on my radar but the hut’s website was very vague about when it closed for the season. I checked with the Zermatt Tourism Office but the woman simply read me the website…super helpful. Or not.

So, when I came upon the sign that said “Schonbielhutte 1h 25m” I decided to check out the hut for myself. Worst case scenario, the hut would be closed and I would be hiking along remote mountain trails next to the Matterhorn on an absolutely gorgeous day for another three hours. Best case scenario, the hut would be open and I’d get to spend another night in the mountains.

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Escaping Zermatt

07 Oct 15
Heidi Kumm
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7 comments
zermatt

Zermatt is a tourist city, there is no denying that. The moment you step off the train you feel the “tourist vibe” humming around you. The people behind the desk at the tourism office have a rehearsed spiel, the streets are teaming with selfie sticks and each little shop has its own carousel of beautiful postcards.

Personally, I am not a fan of the “tourist vibe”, as hypocritical as that may be. The cities that have grown to accommodate tourists always feel stifling + staged…but they grew for a reason. The mountain trails + wilderness surrounding these kitschy tourist cities are stunning. And the true perk of these overgrown cities? Most tourists stay in the cities, or at least close to them, leaving the more remote + challenging trails empty for people like me!

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Currently.

01 Oct 15
Heidi Kumm
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4 comments

A lot has changed over the past two months, but at the same time life feels very normal. Weirdly normal. I’m living in Switzerland, working for a couple I’ve only known for a few weeks, living in a hostel with a revolving door of strangers and grocery shopping with Google Translator in hand.

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Chalet Martin: My New Home

28 Sep 15
Heidi Kumm
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9 comments

About two weeks ago I lugged my over-sized duffle bag up a gravel trail to Chalet Martin, the hostel that would become my home for the next three weeks…or two months. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I had “met” the owners via WorkAway and we’d both agreed to commit to at least three weeks of a volunteer exchange — I helped out around the hostel [changing beds, basic housekeeping, etc] in exchange for a place to stay. As I walked in the hostel reminded me of the farm house I grew up in — a mud room for shoes + gear and cement stairs that led up to the creaky wood floors of the main level. I was home.

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The Chrinnenhorn Summit

25 Sep 15
Heidi Kumm
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No Comments

I have done a terrible job of planning ahead for any part of my Switzerland wanderings. The actual events of my life are rarely planned beyond the upcoming 12 hours. Heck, prior to showing up at Chalet Martin I’d usual start my day with no real plan for where I’d lay my head that night. It was freeing, liberating. Waking up in the Glecksteinhutte was no different. I got up, ate breakfast, stared out the cabin window…and made the impulse decision to do a day hike up one of the “alpine mountaineering” trails leading to the peaks surrounding the cabin.

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A Night in Glecksteinhutte

23 Sep 15
Heidi Kumm
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2 comments

My first day in Grindelwald was supposed to involve a long hike up to Steckhornhutte with a relaxing night surrounded by mountain views. Instead, the city welcomed me with rain and eventually storms that drove me right off the mountainside and into a “meh” hostel on the edge of town. The hostel’s kitchen was laughable and I didn’t even bother with the shower…but I did get a 6 bed dorm room all to myself and celebrated with a full 9 hours of drool-on-my-pillow sleep. Yup, I know how to have a good time!

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Heididorf: The Story of Heidi

18 Sep 15
Heidi Kumm
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There is a book called “Heidi”. For real. It was published in 1881 so it is not my story, but there are some pretty ironic tie-ins to my life so when I realized I was just an hour train ride away from Heididorf, the original setting of the book, I had to go! I threw a fair bit of money at my train ticket [before I learned about the half fare pass…harumph] and arrived in Maienfeld early on a Tuesday afternoon. I was immediately greeted with a sign flaunting Heididorf with a photo of a young girl in the mountains. I was about to spend half a day surrounded in all things Heidi…

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After a stop at the HeidiLand Tourism office to grab a map and peruse room full of shirts and patches and everything else embroidered with “Heidi + Peter” I was off on the walking tour. The yellow trail signs labeled “Heidiweg” were accompanied by a variety of “Heididorf” and “Hotel Heidihof” and they all pointed me uphill, toward the mountains. The actual Heidiweg trail lead me along city streets that quickly melted into country roads just meters outside the city. Just a few steps past a shop advertising ice cream cones I was surrounded by vineyards, rock walls and old corner towers. Welcome to my kind of mountain countryside! Okay, so I really like the bell’ed cows too, but this wasn’t a bad compromise!

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About 30 minutes into my hike I arrived at the actual Heididorf, a small touristy town build up around Heidi’s house and the museum, restaurant and hotel that was thriving on the Heididorf tourism. Once again the little shops were filled with “Heidi + Peter” apparel and knick knacks. Obviously I need to find myself a guy named Peter…our story has already been written!

From Heididorf I had the option to hike up Heidi’s Adventure Trail to see some of the iconic spots written about in the story of Heidi and stop by Heidialp, a cafe at the top. I was not prepared for this — I was wearing a cheap pair of knock-off Keds and jeans. But when there is a trail telling if your adventures, you go!

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— top: proof that the Swiss love their signs! || bottom: proof the knock-off Keds handled the “good footwear required” trails with grace —

The trail was about 6km total, I believe. The first 3km were straight up, and the second 3km came right back down. Along the way there were little check points where a big sign was set up with a short story of why that area was important to the story of Heidi. There was a snack spot, where Heidi and Alm Uncle would stop for a snack on their way into town. There was a treehouse, where Heidi and Peter play as they watched over the goats. And, finally, after about 8 check points there was Heidi’s Mountain Meadow, a large open field with a watering trough and a wide open view of the valley and mountains beyond. I fully approve of the name!

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On my trek back down into town I detoured a little bit — I saw a sign for Peter’s Hutte and figured I’d branch out a bit, get away from all the Heidi’ing if only for one stop. Unfortunately the hut was closed so I just wandered by and hopped on another trail that claimed to take me to Maienfeld. It did, sort of. It took the long way and I meandered along the wooded mountainside a bit before hooking back up with a main section of Heidi’s Adventure Trail.

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I will admit, I skipped Heidi’s Fountain while I was out exploring Heididorf — it was about a mile away from the train I needed to catch back into Zurich for dinner plans. Oops. But really, I don’t think I missed much, right?!

As for the entire trip — I’m glad I did it. However, if you are not a Heidi or a toddler/child the trip might not be worth it. Of course, I didn’t spend the money on access to the Johanna Spryi or Heidi House museum so I can’t say I’ve seen everything. The trek up Heidi’s Adventure Trail was full of cute educational moments for children and, as a Heidi I had plenty of reasons to be excited about a town dedicated to me!

Oh…and if you do go, don’t wear knock-off Keds! You’ll probably survive the trek but your feet will hate you afterward! My poor toes!

Exploring the City of Zurich

16 Sep 15
Heidi Kumm
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one comments

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the best person to go to for city exploration advice but…I did spend an entire week in the city of Zurich so I did find a few cool places worth checking out, even if you swear you’re not a city person. Plus, I took photos and am always looking for an excuse to share them! These are the areas I visited while wandering around the city of Zurich…

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The Trails Above Zurich

14 Sep 15
Heidi Kumm
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No Comments
trail-running

I’m always quick to say “I’m not a city girl”…and I think that is a true statement. Cities make me uncomfortable and I find them to be very overwhelming. They are complex with varied rules, confusing signs and hundreds of people to watch you flounder about. I get nervous and awkward in cities, there is no doubt about it. However, I still managed to happily spend 7 days in Zurich, Switzerland.

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Starting the Tour du Mont Blanc Trek

07 Sep 15
Heidi Kumm
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one comments

When the Columbia crew left Chamonix on Saturday afternoon I packed up my Ultimate Direction Fastpack, stowed away my big Columbia duffle and headed for the train station where I hopped on a train to Vallorcine and immediately hit the trail following the Tour du Mont Blanc trail. I spent my Saturday afternoon/evening hiking against the flow of UTMB 170km racers doling out “great job” and “keep it up” along with many claps + smiles that I hope were encouraging. I was headed to Trient, the 120km check point of the UTMB where I hoped to crash at a hostel after catching Amy [the Runner’s Roost MUT Team coordinator + a major, level-headed enabler for my first ultras] as she came through.

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