An uninhabited hike in the Valais
Swiss mountains are very accessible, with gondolas or cog trains at the ready to take you to the top of many peaks - where a restaurant and other activities no doubt await you. This is awesome, yes, but sometimes it is nice to get away from the crowds, pack your own meal, and get yourself to the summit all on your own.
The hike to Col de Torrent, which divides the Anniviers and Hérens valleys in Valais - just south of Sion - is perfect for this. While some might label it a "hike for loners", for those who appreciate a sparsely populated trail, it's a piece of heaven!
Col de Torrent lies at 2,919m (9,567ft). You can start the hike from any point in the valley but driving or taking the bus up to La Sage village will save you a good bit of legwork. Depending on your hiking speed, it will take roughly 4 hours to reach Col de Torrent from La Sage. If you're with the car, you can park in La Sage, or you can tool further along the winding gravel road that heads up the mountain until you find a place to pull off and start your hike from there.
On your way up, enjoy stunning views of the Hérens Valley and give a wave to the black Valais "fighting" cows. Notable mountains in view include the Dent Blanche and Dent de Veisivi. I used my Peak Finder app to keep track of the towering mountains surrounding me. Give yourself time to adjust to the change in altitude and to enjoy the view!
When you reach the top, all your efforts will be rewarded. The view of the stunningly blue Moiry Lake and the rugged Anniviers Valley, so different from the one you just climbed out of, is worth some pause. Unpack your lunch and take it in. If you have enough time left in your day, it's not much further to walk down to the lake itself - but don't forget, you have to walk back!
There are several lovely villages in the area if you'd like to make this an overnight trip. Nearby Evolène earned itself the title of "most beautiful village in Switzerland" a few years back. It is charming with its old wooden buildings and inviting wafts of raclette bubbling next to the open fire at the flagship restaurant's patio. Les Haudères is another option, as is La Sage - the highest of the three.
As the pics show, this hike is deliciously uninhabited. There are no refreshments waiting for you at the top, so make sure to pack your own. But that warm cozy Swiss meal you indulge in when you get back down to the bottom will taste all the better for it.
Note: You can also begin your hike on the other side from Moiry Lake and peer down on Hérens valley when you reach the top.
Images © Emma Baumhofer