The Day We Stood Atop Mount Pilatus

If you have love for mountains, Switzerland is a must see(most obvious statement of the century). My first trip to the country was a single night spent in the city of Bern with a group of my then and still best friends. I’ll save the stories from that trip and just say that our current 3-night adventure has been completely different.

Rachel and Bob know of Brianna and I’s affinity for mountains and planned a trip for us all to visit Mount Pilatus via Alpnachstad. The Elemental mountain range is similar to the Rockies, I say from very limited  knowledge and experience with each. The mountains vault dramatically upwards from the lower valleys like daggers pointing up toward the sky. We’ve hiked a good amount of mountains in our lives, with many more to come, but the views from Pilatus are the best I’ve ever seen.  The Pilatus top opens into a landscape view of all the cities and lakes below, with white-capped mountain ranges in the backdrop.  

The easiest way to reach the top of the mount Pilatus was via the cogwheel train, advertised as the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. I thought our previous experience with the Colorado Springs to Pikes Peak Cog railway would have prepared us for the experience a lot more than it did. What really happened was that we got on this new-to-us cog railway and it blew our minds. The view from Pikes Peak is beautiful, no question, it’s just that the view from Pilatus Switzerland is better.  Meteorologically, air quality, geographically – all better.  Look at our Instagram pictures, it’s not even a fair fight between the two.

Today’s trip was special in that it was a journey Brianna and I were really excited to make but were making it in an unfamiliar way. Instead of a two person trip, we were joining the six Bob and Rachel clan members. 

Let me tell you that the definition of whether or not a trip was successful changes dramatically when there are four children involved.  When it’s just Brianna and I on a trip, we worry about seeing all of the views and pushing ourselves hard on the trails. When it’s the a full group of us eight, we consider it a successful trip if none of the boys fall off the mountain, or just as long as the baby doesn’t bust through another diaper and wreck the last outfit we have packed. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether or not Brianna and I hiked the trail up or down Pilatus.  Life has many trails and only a few of them are made strictly of dirt and rock.

Pilatus is a tourist destination that I would not label as a trap. Once atop the mountain, we had a fine outdoor lunch and were able to look across the alps as we ate.  Getting off the mountain involved a series of cable rides down the opposite side of which we had come up.  Brianna and I were able to skip the second cable ride and hike the couple miles down to Fräkmüntegg on our own, reuniting with the family at a strategically placed and epic children’s playground that can be found at that stop.  I’m not anti child-safety, but the Europeans know how to do a proper playground, something not possible in the US because of reasons I’m not going to delve into here.

Much like Iceland, we are discovering all of Switzerland’s redeeming qualities.  You make a traveling list in your head of all the countries you’d like to visit in your life and think to yourself, “I’ll cross each country off as we go.” We’re finding it difficult to cross countries off as we go. If anything, we’re finding more reasons to come back to each place. Our annual visits to Gatlinburg, Tennessee are a perfect example of finding a place you love and continuously going back to it. We do a lot of the same activities each year but the experiences are always different. 

It’s important for us to make a lists of places we want to see and things we want to do.  We just have to accept that the list won’t ever get much shorter.  These are countries we are talking about after all.  How can you mark an entire country off the list when you’ve only visited a couple of cities and you loved them!? Silliness.

All-in-all, today’s adventure was a success. We didn’t get lost on any of the trains or buses and made it home with the same 8 people we left with.

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