The Boots are made for Walkin’

There isn’t much like the Binn valley for a full day of hiking, whether you're a seasoned mountaineer or a newcomer to the steady rhythm of the sport. Today’s breathable textiles, walking sticks, and power snacks may ease one’s way on the trail, but when it comes right down to it, anybody who undertakes a day out in the Swiss alps can expect a physical challenge. Fortunately, it’s a challenge that reaps its own − and manifold − rewards.

Taking a day away from Ernen yesterday, my daughter and I boarded the yellow Postauto bus after breakfast to travel up to the end of the Binn valley, where we would start our route. With the water, dried fruit, and chocolate that are vital for me in my rucksack, I also carried an “inner camera”, the memory bank that meticulously records the sights, sounds, and smells of a landscape that is as much a thing of sheer beauty as this one is.

We chose a path that left the village of Binn out towards Imfeld, a picturesque village that has only a few dozen houses, a couple of restaurants, and a simple hotel to its name. Once farther up the trail towards Eggerebode, we crossed fields luxuriant with alpine flowers, then stepped into the shade of woods where openings among the birches revealed massive forested cliffs on the valley’s opposite flank. Continuing upwards from there, we met a family coming down, and passed a rather slow-poke couple, but otherwise, seemed to have the trail all to ourselves. With no time pressure, a store of treats in the pack, and snow-capped peaks in the distance, there wasn’t much to think about as we hiked except for what a perfect summer day this had turned out to be. And when we got back to the banks of the Binna River some four hours later, we sat at the water’s edge to dunk our feet in rushing, icy water. Exhilarating? You bet! Hiking in this valley felt like the state one enjoys after the third day of a fast: the senses are simply as sharp as they ever get.

What’s more, we saw and heard the single marmot that piped out a high-pitched warning to his friends as we passed, and the swifts that soared and careened above the roofs in Imfeld village. There was another impressive “bird,” too, though: an Air Zermatt helicopter that had parked above Imfeld village, presumably so its pilot could have lunch. In short, we two truly found “a place apart” in the Binn valley, and I can only recommend a hike there; it counts among the many things that make a visit to this area irresistibly inviting.

Ernen, 15 July 2015, by Sarah Batschelet