On a cold winter morning, ExpediTom and friends visited the Fälensee in Switzerland.
The shortest Winter
This winter flew by in a rush. I am not entirely convinced whether it was because of my tight schedule or it really was shorter than others. There were hardly any days in the Swiss lowlands with snow. Actually, I only remember one – the day I had my exam lesson for my teaching education. As a consequence, I decided to visit higher elevations to enjoy the winter scenery in Switzerland. Therefore, me and two friends scheduled a trip.
The Fälensee in Appenzell, Switzerland is a famous Instagram spot due to its intensive blue hue, which gives a stark contrast to the snow-topped mountains in the background. I have never been very fond of those overrun insta-places. Nevertheless, I agreed on visiting. Primarily, because it is an area that I have barely seen before. We embarked on our journey through Switzerland by train and enjoyed a cuppa at the SBB board restaurant.
To snowshoe or not?
During our train ride, we had plenty of time to discuss our approach. It boiled down to the decision whether we need snowshoes or not. Our problem was solved by the fact that the outdoor stores nearby closed by the time we planned to return. Hence, we hoped for good conditions of the path. Generally, I would rather be over-prepared, but given this trip was with Philippe I trusted in our luck.
From Brülisau, we hiked on dry grounds towards the Fälensee. We found a solitary chamois grazing on a steep meadow. The path was also quite steep and it was not long until we walked on ice. We passed the restaurant and guest house called “Plattenbödeli”, before we descended on the plateau. The views of the snow-covered mountain peaks were amazing. Continuing along the Sämtisersee we started to gain altitude again. Luckily, the path remained well-trodden, even though it was about two feet deep.
Arriving at the outlook over the Fälensee, our gaze was met by – nothing.
The lake was frozen solid and covered with snow. Although the scenery did not live up to the hype, it was impressive: Nestled amongst the sheer vertical chalk cliffs, there was the white silhouette of the Fälensee. The mountains reminded me of the Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre massive in Patagonia. After eating lunch, we returned the same way and had a drink at the restaurant.
On the way back, I fantasized about staying the night and I wish I had my camping gear with me. Although, the temperatures were expected to plummet to -9°C, the scenery during morning light would have been well worth the effort. Leave alone the starry night sky. My companions were not as fond of the idea as me, which is perhaps because they are not as prepared for such temperatures as I am. However, given I did not bring any camping gear, there was no way to stay.
For the next trip, however, I urged my friends to be prepared to stay and I promised myself to bring gear just in case. I am not entirely sure that they realised I was serious.
December appears to be too late to see the stunningly beautiful blue colour of the Fälensee with the surrounding snow-capped mountains. However, unless you visit only for your Insta shot, it is well worth the trip even if the lake is frozen solid. We observed wild chamois, I had the chance to try my snow camou and we had some good laughs. For the next trip, I will definitely bring my winter camping gear – just in case.
By the way, although many students were late for my exam lesson due to the snowfall – I passed.