Queen of the Mountains – Rigi, Switzerland

When friends live in different countries it is not always easy to find time to spend together, so when we can capture the moment, we try to make the best of it. This time we met in Lucerne (Luzern) for a weekend by the lake. But while the town was welcoming and friendly, it was Rigi that kept calling us. 

We woke early on that Saturday morning, to stuff our packs ready for the day and to head down to the water to catch the steamboat – the first of many varied experiences that would make up this long day. The ferry took us across the lake from Lucerne to Vitznau, and we spent most of the voyage moving back and forth across the deck because it was impossible to know which side had the most beautiful views.

Back on dry land we had no time for exploring sleepy Vitznau as it was time to catch the famous little red train that would take most of the strain on our journey up the Rigi. This peak is known as the Queen of the Mountains, and as we slowly moved up towards her she presented herself. Proud, white and with open arms.

The train itself was pretty busy, and we were a bit worried about the scrum of people we would find at the top, but it would turn out that the Queen of the Mountains had space enough for everyone. Once we were up there, it only took a short walk through the snow for us to feel like we had the mountain pretty much (if not entirely) to ourselves.

The snow was deep but the struggle was worth it as we were greeted not only with more amazing views of the surrounding landscapes but a first ever sighting of a Brocken spectre; a ghostly apparition appearing on the cloud below us.

Our walk continued. We were aiming for the lookout point at Känzeli. As we moved slowly through the snow – taking our time because of both the conditions and the almost constant desire to take more photographs – the clouds rose and fell, and it felt like the scenery was moving with us. At the lookout point the clouds covered much of the lake below, but it remained the perfect spot for a picnic.

Now we began our descent properly, with at least another hour of walking to make it to Klösterli. At times it was easier to drop down onto our bums and slide. Whether the Queen of the Mountains approved of this method, for it was not exactly elegant, we do not know, but it worked and eventually we made it down to be greeted by a friendly man selling homemade cake and mulled wine. Another apparition? No, he was very much real, and his glühwein and cake were very much welcome.

Heading back to Lucerne we were tired but oh so happy. A flying visit to the mountains can still be spectacular, and all the better when shared with friends. The Rigi is the Queen of the Mountains, an it was a royal day indeed…

47°03’20.8″N 8°29’07.8″E
Words & Pictures: Katrin Schönig