Two Weeks in Les Alpes

On September 19, 2011, in Adventure, Lifestyle, Tourism, Travel, Work, by Meghan

Spending time in the Alps of France, Italy, and/or Switzerland is an exercise in managing visual-stimuli overload. Everywhere you turnlookbreathe, there exists a stunning view. It goes like this:

You’re at breakfast, indulging in your fourth cappuccino and your third piece of cheese, and you nonchalantly look out the window to see rock and ice towering so high that you drop your cheese into your coffee.

You enter a two-kilometer long tunnel while driving down the highway. When you emerge from it, you realize it transported you through a mountain and into a new valley with enough beauty to make you swerve around the road.

You wake up from a good sleep, so long and deep that you’ve almost forgotten where you are. You pull back the curtains to see mountains close enough to touch, and have to lay back down from the morning shock.

I spent two weeks in the Alps at the end of August and the beginning of September and I can tell you that the mountains’ beauty doesn’t wear off. In fact, it burrows a hole into your heart and latches on for good.

We arrived to Chamonix, France on August 23rd, my birthday, after an overnight flight from the United States. This blurry-eyed, birthday view of Mont Blanc was a warm welcome (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

We went to Chamonix so that Bryon Powell could run the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and so that we both could report on the race as journalists. When I wasn't working, I was sampling cheese, in this case, raclette. With all the cheese, dessert, and cappuccino I consumed, I'm surprised I didn't become obese in Europe (Bryon Powell photo credit).

After a week of racing and work, we began a week's vacation. Our first stop was a couple nights in Courmayeur, Italy, where we played in the mountains above. We hiked to Col Ferret, a pass looking down into Val Ferret, its valley (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Here's Bryon enjoying Col Ferret. After a nice hike up, we rocketed down and then promptly spent the afternoon in a cafe (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

On our second day in Courmayeur, Italy, we climbed above town in the other direction (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

We stopped at a mountain refugio for coffee, beer, and a sweet snack. Even Jack the Sea Otter got to refuel up there. That evening, we ran into two friends on the street, and ended up eating pizza, drinking wine, and laughing into the night (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit)!

After a day of transit between Courmayeur, Italy and Interlaken, Switzerland and visiting with friends in the Interlaken area, we began the Swiss portion of our adventure by taking the tram to the summit of the Schilthorn, a 10,000 foot peak (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

The building at the top was so foreign to us. There were even escalators to transport us between levels! Yup, escalators at 10,000 feet (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit)!

We had some lunch in the rotating restaurant on top of the building. Those Europeans know how to get their mountain on (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Next, we ran and hiked down the mountain while gawking at Alps views the whole way (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Bryon also found another way down the mountain (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).


We returned to our hotel in Interlaken and ended our day with a lakeside dinner and this view. Holy smokes we are lucky people (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit)!


Our next Swiss Alps adventure was a two-day run. We began by climbing 4,500 vertical feet above Interlaken and its gorgeous lakes (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

After that climb, we stopped to refuel at a cafe in Schynige Platte, which is only accessible by foot or cog railroad. Here, Bryon's smiling because he just drank a beer at 10am (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

We ran 20 miles on all kinds of terrain, including this metal stairway in the middle of nowhere (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Every view at every moment was a stunner. One thing I learned is that the Alps is not a wilderness. Because of the cog railways, trains, gondolas, trams, cafes, and refuges, the land is accessible to many. During our 20 miles, we probably saw 400 people. What a mountain culture (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit)!

At this point, I think you understand what I mean by a pretty view (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

We stopped about every two hours at a cafe or refuge for some sort of drink and food. At our last stop, a cafe in First, we dessert-ed ourselves. This cafe gets their food delivered by gondola (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit)!

We ended our day with an overnight at this mountain lodge in Grosse Scheidegg. As we arrived, clouds and mist arrived, too, shrouding the mountains. Warm and dry inside, we spent the evening with 50 or so other folks (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

We awoke to more drizzle, though the gray sky only made the green fields look greener. We began with a one-hour descent into Grindewald, where we, of course, sat in a cafe with cappuccino (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

We had a plan for a 15 or so mile ridge crossing after Grindewald, but we only made it 4 or 5 miles up that ridge because the weather grew colder and wetter as we climbed. When the trail passed a cog railway for the 77nd time, I jumped on it. Minutes later, we were sitting in this restaurant with warm drinks and food in Kleinne Scheidegg (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

Bryon seemed content with my desire to get off the mountain and take public transport back to our hotel (Meghan M. Hicks photo credit).

The next morning, we breakfasted in the company of that big, blue lake in Interlaken once more, then began the 24 or so hours of travel back to our home in Park City, Utah. While we were exhausted from working hard and playing hard for two weeks straight, we both agreed on one very important thing: “Until next year, Les Alpes!”

10 Responses to “Two Weeks in Les Alpes”

  1. Danni says:

    Looks divine. And now I’m hungry for coffee, cheese, pastries and whatever that giant thing Bryon has is.

    • Meghan says:

      Danni, the strange concoction that Bryon had was a mess of potatoes, cheese, and Indian spices. With slices of apple sticking out of the top. The Swiss LOVE their potatoes and cheese. Ahem, so do I!

  2. Rhielle says:

    Um, I just got jealous and started drueling all over myself.

  3. Ewa says:

    Love you pictures, but I am not sure what looks better, the mountains of the food. 🙂
    But seriously, I love the Alps, haven’t been in years and now, of course, I am dying to go. So to sum it up, I am in total envy of your trip.

    • Meghan says:

      Ewa, let’s not talk about total envy, which I what I felt while you were out on the JMT. Thank goodness you were putting up pics on FB so I could vicariously follow along or I might have died from the jealousy.

  4. Duuuude! I want to travel with YOU! Your trips are always incredible. 🙂

  5. JeffO says:

    Nice photos! Awesome trip!

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