The Alpine Glow

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland



1911 and J.R.R Tolkien came to Switzerland at the early age of 19. Some years later Tolkien would create the Lord of the rings, drawing inspiration from his travels in and around Switzerland, in particular, the Lauterbrunnen valley.

The valley of Lauterbrunnen is part of the fabulous region of the Bernese Oberland, nestled within some of the best hiking trails the world has to offer and being the very reason why I and my brother were to embark on this epic 7-day hiking trip.

The first two days of our trip would find us in the Chamonix area of the French alps exploring the Lac Blanc trail, which would then lead us down and across to Plan Praz the day after. After reaching Lac Blanc we decided to descend back down the trail and spend the night at the Lacs Des Cheserys with some other hikers we met along the way. This lake offers some incredible views overlooking the Mt Blanc range and later on that very evening I waited for the moon to rise above the peaks as my brother and our fellow hikers lay fast asleep under the moonlit landscape. With the moon casting its glorious white light across the Mt Blanc valley, I was left mesmerized by the stillness of the mountain, and in that very moment sharing my experience with an alpine Ibex that was rather curious to find out what I was up to.

Mountain glacier is melting in France

After a few hours of sleep, I unzipped the tent and put my new Tamron 70-210mm f4 to the test that morning to photograph the Mer De Glace on the other side of the mountain. This is the first telephoto lens I have purchased that isn’t a Nikon, and I am very happy with the performance of the Tamron version. Sharp, light and much cheaper than the f4 version that Nikon currently offers.

Due to climate change, the Mer De Glace is now melting at an alarming rate and now parts of the glacier what use to be ice, are now just sand and rubble.

Looking for emotion.

As a Wildlife photographer, there are many key elements in turning a good photograph into a great photograph. The two aspects always on my mind are emotion and light. I constantly envisage how certain images can be created when out in the field, and with these two elements, I feel I have a great base to produce images that have a strong context to them.

My brother looking across the valley from Lacs Des Cheserys on a sun filled morning.

Man looks out over a mountain in Chamonix

Leaving Chamonix, we were now travelling across to the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, which was to be the highlight of the trip for me. From turquoise filled lakes in Interlaken to the spectacular valleys of Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald, I was in heaven.

Light spills on rock face in Lauterbrunnen
Sun sets over lauterbrunnen in summer

During our hike from Lauterbrunnen to Oberhornsee, the light was ever-changing and I was truly spoilt for choice in creating unique images. This one has to be in my top 3 from our trip to the alps. As the clouds continually broke apart, the sun pushed through spreading light across the land, giving a sense of an alien invasion.

sun rays over a valley in Lauterbrunnen

Pushing through the boundaries of pain and exhaustion reaps rewards.

The best hikes in the alps are the ones that come with the grueling pain and the ones that test the patience of the mind and body. The Oberhornsee trail is one of those hikes and with an ascent of almost 7000 feet through forests, glaciers and tricky terrain, pain is a common feeling and you are constantly being tested at every corner.

However, if you push aside the continual thought of throwing the towel in, I am a firm believer in pain comes reward. 6 hours in, and this was to be the case as we reached our destination for the evening.

The Galaxy opens up above the Bernese Alps

I have had great pleasure in viewing some fantastic dark skies over recent years but that very evening everything felt completely surreal and surpassed anything I had imagined for my time spent in Switzerland.

As the skies became darker and darker the night sky became more and more alive, and simply became one of the best dark sky evenings I have ever been blessed to see. Witnessing an array of shooting stars glide high above the snow-capped mountain peaks, I admired the stunning scene as the flickering of billions of stars reflected across the mirrored lake below.

Man stands on montains watching dark skies in Switzerland
The alpine glow

The very next morning something truly remarkable happened. The sky was illuminated with the most stunning pastel shades of pinks and oranges that I had ever seen from any sunrise, and what a scene it was. Left awestruck, soon came the echoing sounds in the form of an avalanche, simply there and then I felt completely blessed to be sharing that very moment with my brother, and to witness the burning alpine glow as the thunderous sound sent shivers down my spine, stood breathless 7000 feet up in the Bernese Alps.

Africa & beyond

In just six short weeks I will be travelling to Africa to spend almost two weeks in Botswana. Being my first of many trips to Africa I am excited and intrigued on the possibilities that may lie ahead.

Past September I will be spending a week in the Dolomites on another hiking expedition, and then moving towards the winter will take me closer to home, spending time with British wildlife mostly.

I hope this blog will again fuel your own inspiration to see the pure beauty on earth.

To read more inspiring blogs from the wild, why not visit my blog page to check out all of my latest adventures!

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Logo font of Dan Palmer Photo