Adventuring in Alpstein

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I live for trail running adventures. It’s what makes me jump out of bed at 5am on a Saturday morning (and every other morning, for that matter). Last month, while doing some training with our European team, Running Warehouse Europe, I was fortunate enough to take a weekend and do some exploring in beautiful Alpstein, Switzerland with Randy, our RW accessories buyer.

The region of Alpstein is relatively small, and centered around Säntis, a 2502-meter tall mountain. From this point emanate three stark series of limestone ridges covered at the top with snow, and at the bottom with lush green grass spreading out toward the two small valleys. These valleys each contain one or two good-sized lakes and herds of cows wearing bells, from which happy peals could be heard from thousands of meters up.

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We started the adventure by heading up, skirting one of the two adjacent valleys, and back down toward Seealpsee, one of the three lakes. Already we were greeted with stunning views, each turn yielding a better photograph than the last. From the lake, we climbed up to the mountain hut Aescher, which is uniquely built right into the side of the cliff.

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After a little lunch, we continued a long climb toward Säntis, but sadly, the high clouds obstructed our view of the mountain. On this trail we were greeted with incredible views of the valley, and one of the most stunning rock ridges I’ve ever seen. Running the somewhat hazardous trail along the mountainside brought us around the valley, then down to the valley floor. After a brief stop at an idyllic family dairy for a cup of the best mocha yogurt I’ve ever tasted, we climbed up the short, steep trail to Meglisalp, where a delicious dinner and bunk-style sleeping accommodations awaited.

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The next morning, after fueling up with muesli and fresh, regional cheese, we set out again, this time headed up and over the ridge for the next valley over. It was clear that these trails were higher and less traveled, as there was still a considerable amount of snow to trudge through.

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A spectacular view after a long climb, a soggy descent, and another steep climb later, we found ourselves at Fälensee, a small lake whose water looked dramatically dark because of the surrounding mountains. A short jaunt to the end of the lake took us to a tiny farm nestled on the edge of the lake, with sheer mountains rising straight up on every other side. The scene was peaceful, the bright green grass dotted with wildflowers amongst the steep, snow-capped peaks – practically begging you to take a moment and breathe deeply as time slows down.

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From there, looking at the map, we thought it was only a short run back to the car, just up one more hill. The next climb was the steepest and longest we had encountered yet. The switchbacks were so close our GPS watches stopped recording distance, and I couldn’t help feeling a little dizzy looking either down or up. At the top we were rewarded once again with stunning panoramas, which of course made the climb more than worthwhile!

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Cruising back to the car from this vista, we left the magic of Alpstein behind us, saying that we couldn’t wait to come back again. A quiet, peaceful landscape boasting some of the most difficult trails and gorgeous views I’ve seen in my few short years as a trail runner made for an incredible and memorable weekend.

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