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Switzerland - ...

I know I'm posting a few questions at once, thanks for reading this :)

Are the higher hiking trails (BO and Valais) open (and relatively dry) at the beginning of May?

Anyone know if I can I hike from village to village day by day independently? (I am currently reading myswitzerland.com but want to avoid tours if I can) Also I'm trying to do this by the seat of my pants because I'm unsure of dates (May 2010) and don't want to pre-plan if possible.

Is May less saturated with tourists?

Sorry for so many questions in one post and thanks in advance for your tips. This is the most helpful, friendliest travel forum I've posted on :)

Posted by
12040 posts

"Are the higher hiking trails (BO and Valais) open (and relatively dry) at the beginning of May?"

At lower elevations, yes. Higher up... a "maybe", depending on the weather of the previous winter. Closer to the summits, no. As for being dry, once you move away from the villages, expect a fair amount of mud. And this is also a rainy time of year.

Posted by
15819 posts

You can certainly walk from village to village on your own, and the website gives some good suggestions. However, in early May you will be severaly limited as to routes in the BO and Valais. The multi-day walks they suggest in the BO, for example, include the Alpine Pass Route, which is impassible in May due to high passes. Even the lower elevation route they suggest, the Berner Voralpenweg, which traverses the lower Voralpen from Gstaad to Spiez, climbes over 2 passes over 2000 meters---very likely still snow-covered and hazardous in early May.

Same with the Valais. The lovely Aletsch Panoramaweg from Blatten to Fiescheralp starts at 2100 meters and climbs up to 2550 m---that's over 7000 feet.

The only multi-day route I saw that would work in May is the vineyard walk in the Valaiss, from Martigny to Leuk. This stays under 1000 meters the whole way---but the route just follows above the road in that area.

If you truly want to do this in May, you need to look at lower-elevation areas in other cantons---maybe Appenzell? I'm not familiar with that area so I can't make any suggestions. In central Switzerland, there is a "Weg der Schweitz" theme path on Swiss history along the Vierwaldstattersee (Lake Lucerne) but I don't know how interesting it would be.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for the info and tips :)

I am certainly going in May, perhaps maybe a little later in the month, but not likely. I will be in Italy and France beforehand, and dates aren't set in stone, so who knows...my philosophy is go where the wind blows me.

I think I've conceded to hiking in the lower regions and training it into the higher places. At this point, hiking in elevation is not what's important to me, hiking in general from place to place is moreso, so I'm happy to just scuttle from place to place and see what I can see. I am definitely looking into Appenzell as well :)

I don't have an itinerary or dates. I am totally winging this portion of my trip. ...yikes!

Posted by
20 posts

p.s.
thank you for suggesting the vineyard walk Lola, I am going to check it out right now :)

Posted by
15819 posts

Actually, I'm not suggesting the vineyard walk---I only mentioned it because it looked like th eonly multi-day route in the Valais that was low enough in altitude to be doable in early May. But we've ridden thr train through there, several times; the hiking route parallels the train route and highway, and it doesn't seem all that appealing.

You might look at the Jakobsweg---this is part of the path of St. james that goes through out europe. In Switzerland it goes more than 400 km, from the Bodensee to Geneva, but certain sections of it might be appealing. It's on that myswitzerland website.

I wish I could be more helpful. . . but trekking between villages in the most scenic parts of the BO or the Valais just doesn't seem feasible. If you can't find anything appealing in the Appenzell, would you consider a village base with dayhikes from there?

Posted by
20 posts

Checked both routes out; they actually both seem appealing to me. Its my first time there, I think I'll be happy with wherever I go. I haven't had time to check out Appenzell yet.

Originally I thought I would stay 1-2 nights in Lauterbrunnen and 1-2 nights in Grimmelwald. (I am arriving via train from somewhere in France. I would likely spend a night in or near Bern before arriving in Interlaken (again, no particular schedule)

From there I was interested in heading to Aeschi and was hoping to hike from Interlaken to Aeschi but have not gotten there in my planning. lol I don't care if I hike the whole way, train some, whatever.

Then I was heading to Appenzell area after 7-10 days. I know this sounds full of holes, but when I arrive somewhere, I always end up finding places to go and things to do, so I'm not too worried but knowing to steer clear of higher elevations in my hiking boots is great.
Rain was mentioned -- how much rain are we talking?

Posted by
59 posts

Sarah- I have hiked in the canadian rockies in Alberta in May and early June. There was lots of rain and some snow in higher elevations. I would think that if you are an experienced hiker in your own back yard (which I'm sure you are, hiking is phenominal where you live) that you wont run into anything in the BO or Valais that you are not used to. The hiking I did in the BO was later in June and there was still some snow and plenty of rain, but that is part of the fun. Have a great time.

Posted by
15819 posts

"Its my first time there, I think I'll be happy with wherever I go." that's a great atttude. Switzerland is lovely, and I'm sure you will love it. I just wanted to caution you about planning routes that might take you into steep terrain where ice ax and crampons would be needed in early May. There are a couple of places above Gimmelwald that would fall in this category, one of them a pass that you would have to cross if hiking to the next village on the Alpine Pass route. People have trouble there even into July some years.

As for rain, I don't know that May is any rainier than other months in the BO. We seen rain in June, July, and august, but also many glorious sunny days. It's always advised to carry rain gear at all times when hiking, and then hope you don't need it!

Posted by
20 posts

:-D
Awesome! This clarified for me and confirmed what I'm thinking.
Thank you Lola and Terry.

Posted by
10 posts

Actually you can stay in Interlaken and get to Gimmelwald quickly. I hiked up to Murren from there, but at age 74 I walked up the paved narrow road. (No mud) Got great photos of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau from there. In 1997 I walked down from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen and my guess that route would not be muddy.