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walkingnatureworld
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PostSat Jan 04, 2020 3:27 am 
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Got a sunstroke on the most breathtaking trail through Swiss Alps | Day 9 TMB from Italy to Switzerland

In today's episode of Tour de Mont Blanc we hiked from Aosta Valley in Italy to the village La Fouly in Switzerland.

Watch the full video here:

It was a first bright sunny morning after a long time. We had the coldest night in our tent, the temperature was probably going down to 5 degrees Celsius. So we were more than happy to see the sun coming out and be able to warm up everything. We noticed that the temperature at night susprisingly didn't depend that much on the elevation we were and could be the same at 1000m and at 2000m for some reason.

The camping Grandes Jorasses we stayed in was nice, not very clean but maybe it was because of the wet weather - the floors were a bit dirty. We stayed in a specially dedicated area for the tents in the forest. It was a family owned and managed camping as we understood it and so the atmosphere was very family like.

We left the camping at 9am to catch the bus that took us to Chalet Val Ferret Arnouva Desot. This way we could start the trail and climbing the mountain right away and didn't have to walk another extra kms along the car road.

Waiting at the bus stop we gazed up and finally saw the Mont Blanc in all its majesty - there was no single cloud around it. It happens so rarely and we witnessed it for the second time starting from Chamonix. The view was breathtaking.

After 15 min of a bus ride we were at the place to start the hike. Right from the beginning the path went quite a steep uphill. After 5 minutes of climbing the big beautiful waterfall opened to our eyes. It was sparkly shiny in the magical morning backlight. We did some photos of it and continued on with the trail.

The path was going constantly quite a steep uphill. In some places there was a snow left and we had to pass through the slippery snowy sidehills. It is especially dangerous because it was melting already and could broke down any moment. Also there were several waterfalls and bridges to go through.

Then we got to the Refugee house Elena searched for the water source and there wasn't any so we just collected some water from a river. And started to ascend the Grand Col Ferret mountain. The path was going in a zig zagging mode so it wasn't extreme nor too difficult. In some places there was quite a bit of mud and it was very easy to slip on it as well as to wetten the shoes. On the last part there was a snowy cap on a sidehill but it was quite flat luckily.

So we got to the top of Grand Col Ferret and from there we could see the borders of the 3 countries that we crossed: France on the other side of the valley, Italy down in the valley and now Switzerland in front of us. The views were unforgettable from there with the snowy patterns on the mountains, abrupt and spiky rocks and perfectly clear polarizer sky.

We already saw that the way down isn't going to be easy because there was quite a bit of snow left. Some parts were steeper, some parts were flatter but overall it was quite challenging to do. We found that doing the downhill required more effort most of the time as the weight is pushing you down and the knees are working very hard. But with the snow it becomes quite a lot harder because of unstable and slippery ground that can go down any moment. We learnt that we don't enjoy walking in the snow also because you're concentrating so much on the path that you don't have a possibility to look around and relax. Everything is very tense and concentrated. So you end up missing a lot of the views on the way. We would love to do the same trails but without snow here - we're sure it would be quite a different experience.

On the downhill we met several marmots that were running up and down the hills. Also to our surprise we met several cyclists who carried their mountain bikes up the trail. And it was crazy to think that they were going to come down with their bikes from all that mud, snow and unstable rocks with steep paths.

When the snowy part was over we descended quite fast to the refugee La Peule and there we saw lots and lots of spotty cows on the hills. There we even saw a small milking machine so probably they made a fresh milk products right at the place.

The weather was burning hot and we felt that we probably sunburnt quite a lot that day. We walked without a single shadow for 5 hours straight and when we went down to the river we felt dizzy and probably it was all because of the extreme strong sunlight magnified by the snow as well. So we washed our faces with the cold spring water, had our lunch break in the shadow and left to do another 5 kms to the village La Fouly.

This last part was very easy going on the car road and passing through small villages, idyllic grassy fields and sheep pastures. The sun was setting down and it felt better to walk at this time of the day.

Very soon we got to our destination village La Fouly and went straight to the supermarket to buy some food. Right away we noticed a different currency on the price tags and were a bit confused about it. But hoped it to be equivalent to euros. The prices were very expensive. For example two tomatoes costed us 1.20 euro, simple white bread 2.20 euros and so on so forth. It turned out that the exchange rate is higher for the euros than local francs so we ended up paying even more. So we had to learn about the exchange rates more apparently.

We didn't expect for the campsite to be cheap at all and in the end it costed 23 euros which wasn't that expensive actually as we paid around same price in some places even in Spain. But when we actually got to explore it a bit we absolutely fell in love with it. It was very spacious green area partly in the forest with very big pitches. There wasn't any cabins or houses just the pitches for camper vans and tents. We could pick any place we liked the most. There was a free wifi connection covering most of the camping as well which is rarely happens. The facilities were all in a very good condition and clean. But as always the best part is the location - it was surrounded by the high mountain summits from all sides. Tour de Mont Blanc together with plenty other trails goes right through this camping. There was a playground and adventure park right in the campsite. So we can highly recommend this camping to stay in - it got everything you need for a backpacker and good quiet rest is guaranteed there.

It was interesting to notice different things about Switzerland and making real opinion about it. Because before visiting this country all we knew was a secure bank system, good watch craft, chocolate and milk products and that's about it. So we were really excited to discover more about it.



How do you imagine Switzerland? What is Switzerland for you?

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We are a young couple who loves hiking, nature walking and camping. We choose walking over driving and other types of transportation whenever we can. Also we have a Youtube channel where we're showcasing all our hikes.
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Nancyann
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PostMon Jan 06, 2020 11:03 am 
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Nice video! For me, Switzerland is very addicting, and very expensive. I have been fortunate to hike in the Swiss Alps the past two summers with my son who was stationed at Ramstein in Germany. He did a lot of research and we were able to find a few hostels and also Rotstock Hutte along Section 12 of the Via Alpina above Murren, which were affordable. We also found affordable lodging in Kandersteg, along Section 13, where the scenery was equally magnificent and there werenít as many tourists. Both years we went the week before the Swiss schools got out and were able to go on some mid-week hikes where we saw very few people.
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walkingnatureworld
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PostMon Jan 06, 2020 2:35 pm 
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Nancyann wrote:
Nice video! For me, Switzerland is very addicting, and very expensive. I have been fortunate to hike in the Swiss Alps the past two summers with my son who was stationed at Ramstein in Germany. He did a lot of research and we were able to find a few hostels and also Rotstock Hutte along Section 12 of the Via Alpina above Murren, which were affordable. We also found affordable lodging in Kandersteg, along Section 13, where the scenery was equally magnificent and there werenít as many tourists. Both years we went the week before the Swiss schools got out and were able to go on some mid-week hikes where we saw very few people.

Thank you! So true about Switzerland. We did realize it during the next days how expensive it was. But at the same time we didnīt want to leave it because of incredible beauty around us. That is so great that you could discover some affordable options to stay, very important there. Do you have more exact information about it? Would be helpful to know if we some time go back to it. We found that campsites are quite good options to stay too.

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Nancyann
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PostMon Jan 06, 2020 11:09 pm 
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We greatly enjoyed our experience at Rotstockhutte, at the base of the Schilthorn, along Section 12 of the Via Alpina. It is a hut with dormitory style sleeping upstairs, and a comfortable dining room downstairs. Bathrooms are in a building close by. A delicious dinner and breakfast were included in the price of the lodging, if I remember correctly, about 70 Swiss Francs.
Here is a pic of the hut from the outside: Also there is a barn where cows are brought in twice a day from the high pastures and milked. The cheese and other dairy products are made on site for the kitchen and are incredibly delicious!
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19

One of the sleeping quarters:
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19

And one looking back at the hut and outbuildings from further up the trail.
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19

It is a strenuous hike uphill from Murren to reach Rotstockhutte, but the scenery was world class, really worth the effort!
The previous year, we stayed in a hostel above Grindelwald which my son paid for, so I donít know the cost, but he said it was very reasonable.
We dayhiked Section 11, from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen, right under the Eiger and again, the scenery was simply mind-blowing.
I highly recommend hiking up to the high hut above Kandersteg and Lake Ochinensee, although I donít know about affordable options such as camping, as we stayed in a nice hotel, but the views along the way are equally impressive.
Both years we also stayed in affordable hostels in the Jura region near the French border and absolutely loved the hiking trails that wind through the charming little villages and castles. I posted trip reports for these last year.
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walkingnatureworld
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 10:14 am 
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Nancyann wrote:
We greatly enjoyed our experience at Rotstockhutte, at the base of the Schilthorn, along Section 12 of the Via Alpina. It is a hut with dormitory style sleeping upstairs, and a comfortable dining room downstairs. Bathrooms are in a building close by. A delicious dinner and breakfast were included in the price of the lodging, if I remember correctly, about 70 Swiss Francs.
Here is a pic of the hut from the outside: Also there is a barn where cows are brought in twice a day from the high pastures and milked. The cheese and other dairy products are made on site for the kitchen and are incredibly delicious!
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19

One of the sleeping quarters:
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19

And one looking back at the hut and outbuildings from further up the trail.
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19

It is a strenuous hike uphill from Murren to reach Rotstockhutte, but the scenery was world class, really worth the effort!
The previous year, we stayed in a hostel above Grindelwald which my son paid for, so I donít know the cost, but he said it was very reasonable.
We dayhiked hiked Section 11, from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen, right under the Eiger and again, the scenery was simply mind-blowing.
I highly recommend hiking up to the high hut above Kandersteg and Lake Ochinensee, although I donít know about affordable options such as camping, as we stayed in a nice hotel, but the views along the way are equally impressive.
Both years we also stayed in affordable hostels in the Jura region near the French border and absolutely loved the hiking trails that wind through the charming little villages and castles. I posted trip reports for these last year.

Thank you for detailed response. Your messages really make us want to do the Via Alpina. We initially when travelling to Dolomites and Alps were considering doing some Alta Via but then we learnt that on some sections there are Via Ferratas and had to quit this idea because with the heavy backpacks it would be quite dangerous. Is it similar to Alta Vias, are there Via Ferrata sections?

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HitTheTrail
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 2:18 pm 
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I spent a week at Kandersteg international Scout center in the  Bernese Oberland region as a chaperone for my son's boy scout troop back in 2004. It was a winter ski trip, but what a place. The Scout center is not just for scouts and is open to the general public at around $35 per night but operates more like a hostel than a hotel. For example, you have to clean your own room and help in the kitchen, but is a fun place. You can't get to a much better part of the Alps that that! The history of the Kindersteg scout center can be found here.

Some of the boys in our scout group even got their photo on the following year's marketing brochure. My son is standing in the back in the red hat.

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Nancyann
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 6:28 pm 
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That is very cool, HTT! I agree with you about Kandersteg, the scenery rivals the best we saw on the Via Alpina between Grindelwald and the Schilthorn, where we stayed at Rotstockhutte, only itís not as expensive and overrun with tourists. When I have time, I will post some TRís with lots of pictures. smile.gif
As for the concern about more challenging Via Ferrata sections of trail, there were none that you are required to walk on between Lauterbrunnen and Rotstockhutte. However, once you reach the high pass, sorry I forget itís name, yes, there is challenging terrain. Here are a couple of pics, one of my brother after he forded a very challenging creek, and the other of the high pass, which my son was able to climb up to.
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19 Courtesy of D.Abell
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19 Courtesy of D.Abell

We had to turn around at that point due to snow travel which we didnít have the proper equipment for, since it was still early in the season. The conditions were similar above Kandersteg and Lake Ochinensee, although we did almost make it up to the high hut, which was just opening that day. Meanwhile, a group of Swiss girls wearing cutoffs and using no traction devices marched briskly by us carrying 40 lb. packs full of supplies for the hut. lol.gif
I did walk on a section of Via Ferrata by accident coming back to Murren after our stay at the hut. I was hiking by myself that morning and took the wrong fork in the trail. I ended up on a knife edge ridge which had a cable to hold on to. Added a little spice to the adventure. clown.gif
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HitTheTrail
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 7:35 pm 
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Nancyann wrote:
I was hiking by myself that morning and took the wrong fork in the trail. I ended up on a knife edge ridge which had a cable to hold on to. Added a little spice to the adventure. clown.gif

That sounds awful adventuresome for someone of my generation! Hope you can keep it up for as long as I intend to.

One day we took the train from Kandersteg to the next village and then a cable car up the mountain (I think it was the Elsigenalp). There was a small resort with hotels and shops on the side of the mountain up near the top where we connected to the next cable car. I thought, what a place to stay! But I was most impressed by the view of the Alps from the summit. Also, there was a large sign up there that said in the early 1800's a valley glacier released and went cascading toward the small village in the river valley  below. Luckily only a few cows were killed.
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PostTue Jan 07, 2020 8:38 pm 
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Thatís interesting, HTT, because we wanted to go up to the next village, but were at the end of our week, sadly.
As for my propensity for adventures, Iím pretty sure that the older I get, the more often I forget how old Iím supposed to be. biggrin.gif
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walkingnatureworld
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PostThu Jan 09, 2020 9:29 am 
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Nancyann wrote:
That is very cool, HTT! I agree with you about Kandersteg, the scenery rivals the best we saw on the Via Alpina between Grindelwald and the Schilthorn, where we stayed at Rotstockhutte, only itís not as expensive and overrun with tourists. When I have time, I will post some TRís with lots of pictures. smile.gif
As for the concern about more challenging Via Ferrata sections of trail, there were none that you are required to walk on between Lauterbrunnen and Rotstockhutte. However, once you reach the high pass, sorry I forget itís name, yes, there is challenging terrain. Here are a couple of pics, one of my brother after he forded a very challenging creek, and the other of the high pass, which my son was able to climb up to.
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19 Courtesy of D.Abell
Via Alpina Section 12, 6/26-6/27/19 Courtesy of D.Abell

We had to turn around at that point due to snow travel which we didnít have the proper equipment for, since it was still early in the season. The conditions were similar above Kandersteg and Lake Ochinensee, although we did almost make it up to the high hut, which was just opening that day. Meanwhile, a group of Swiss girls wearing cutoffs and using no traction devices marched briskly by us carrying 40 lb. packs full of supplies for the hut. lol.gif
I did walk on a section of Via Ferrata by accident coming back to Murren after our stay at the hut. I was hiking by myself that morning and took the wrong fork in the trail. I ended up on a knife edge ridge which had a cable to hold on to. Added a little spice to the adventure. clown.gif

That is really inspiring, now we want to explore this region of Alps as well. We too hope that you will continue hiking for many years and the people like you is a real role model to us younger generation. Sometimes we are not as strong as you are in your age. So keep it strong! smile.gif

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