Hiking in the Swiss mountains has always been on my bucket list of travel experiences so Dan and I made sure to make space for our hiking boots in our suitcases for our day trip to the Ruinalta Gorge. We have been progressively working on traveling lighter with each trip and packing with the goal of hand luggage only, which was tough this time around since Dan’s boots alone took up half the size of my carry on suitcase. As you can see, our minimalist goal might be a continual work in progress.
After boarding the #81 bus to Laax from Chur’s Hauptbahnhof and zipping through the picturesque towns of Trin and Flims, we arrived just under an hour later at the trailhead of our approximately 9km planned route for the day; Laax to Lake Cauma, then to Conn and the “Il Spir” viewing platform overlooking the Ruinalta Gorge, back up towards Lake Cresta, and then west to Flims Waldhaus for the return bus.
Dan and I had barely even started off towards Lag La Cauma (following the very well marked signs!), when we were lured off trail by the melodious sound of cow bells echoing through the valley. I had never seen a cow actually wearing a cow bell before and it just seemed so very ‘Sound of Music’-esque to me. The hills are alive with the sound of cow belllllllllls!
As we wound our way downhill with a canopy of leafy green trees and zipliners overhead and wildflowers under our feet, Lake Cauma’s teal blue waters greeted us and we joined the other dozen or so other fellow hikers and picnickers out on the terrace of the lakeside restaurant for lunch with a view. Incredible right?
After fueling up on overpriced but delicious sandwiches (Switzerland’s prices will give you a heart attack every time you look at the menu), we followed the trail towards Conn and the “Il Spir” platform offering dizzying views of the Ruinalta Gorge and the Rhine river rushing down below with an intrepid group of kayakers out paddling the pale blue waters.
All this pounding the trails was making us hungry again so we camped out on some rocks next to the lake for an afternoon snack and boy am I glad we did since we quickly discovered that the rest of our route was a series of uphill switchbacks. God have mercy on my quads!
Our legs were thankful to finally reach the town of Flims Waldhaus and sink into our bus seats for the ride back to Chur. The pretty towns of Flims, Tamsin, and Trin were just what I imagined a pretty little Swiss village in the mountains to look like and if you’re looking for a picturesque locale for an overnight or extended stay before your Bernina Express journey I would recommend making the extra trek outside of Chur.
Arriving back at the hotel exhausted and ready for pajamas, we sank into our bed and easily let sleep pull us under. Tomorrow we bid farewell to Chur and board our long anticipated Bernina Express scenic rail ride over the Alps to the next leg of our journey, Lake Lugano!