Sep 7, 2016 - 4:16 PM
In preparation for our trek, my wife and I purchased Swiss half fare cards online for 120 CHF which we printed at home the week prior to departing. We had no issues using anywhere along our route. We also purchased from Stanford's the topo maps for the regions we would cover. Expensive but we wanted the paper maps for our planning. And lastly we booked rooms for the trip. We debated this decision but in the end decided that we'd be more comfortable knowing where we would stay each night.
We flew from Boston, MA on Aug 5 for our adventure. We landed in Zurich and checked one suitcase at the airport, very straightforward. For the next 12 days we each carried a 50L Osprey Atmos backpack on the trek. My guess is that they each weighed less than 25 lbs .
We travelled from Zurich to Meiringen by train, switching once in Lucerne. The trip was pretty and quick, a bit over 2 hours. Then the trekking began! Overall we compared the trek positively to our local hiking in New Hampshire's White Mountains, although the Swiss trails are in much better condition, free of rocks or other obstacles that we see on every step of every trail at home. That was the key difference. Also, for a few of the passes the exposure was much more than we are used to, even more than our trekking in the Himalaya to 5,000 m in the Chukhung area. No issues but some anxious steps! Otherwise we had some long 20+ km hikes, and some steeps, but similar to White Mountain hikes.
I'll just mention a few of the hotels where we stayed. The Hotel Meiringen was comfortable with a great breakfast. Berggasthaus First and the Berghaus Mannlichen had great views. We arrived at Rotstockhutte after a day-long hike in pouring rain to a welcome pot of tea and streudel - perfect! It reminded us of the AMC huts in the White Mountains. Fifteen total spent the night and we were able to spread out with plenty of space to dry our gear. I highly recommend the Hotel Waldrand just outside Griesalp, wonderful meals and a beautiful and quietly remote location. If we were to do it again we'd skip the Hotel Baeren in Adelboden, a nice facility and good meals but the only location where we were not warmly welcomed and felt like we were just being tolerated. Otherwise we had super friendly hosts everywhere. In Gstaad we spent two nights at the Grand Chalet, which was perfect. They were surprised on our arrival that we walked up from town, and when we apologized for only having hiking shorts and t-shirts for dinner they smilingly said they were very happy to have us "sporty people". :>)
We took an easy train trip from Gstaad to Montreux and spent a day and a half there. It was OK, we liked the Queen museum! But after the beautiful hiking the re-entry was a bit shocking. Then a train back to Zurich to pick up our suitcase and a few days in Zurich city and Lucerne before the train back to the airport and unfortunately the end to our adventure. The myswissalps site was a huge help and tremendous asset for us. Thanks to all. I'd be happy to answer any questions or provide more detail for any specific requests.