Our hike to the top of Üetliberg this afternoon was one for the history books. I’d done a little research on a trail called the Denzlerweg beforehand that could get us there, but we were still mostly winging it.
Enchanting is the most fitting word to describe our ascent into the forest, and the magic seemed to magnify the further we went along the trail. Green and life surrounded us everywhere we turned, from the soil blanketed in prehistoric-looking vegetation to the moss growing over thick tree trunks to the unbelievable canopy above us.
Even the air on the mountain seemed to hold some sort of a spell. I thought that inhaling in and of itself was a pleasure as we climbed. If it’s possible for air to be delicious, then this air was.
Nothing but us, the trees, and the sounds of the birds in their homes, with not another human soul anywhere near us. Being enveloped by such calming peace and nature is such a simple pleasure, and such a rich one at the same time.
A few surprises cropped up for us as we traversed the path as well, creating a bonafide adventure for us. There were several instances where we were uncertain if we were supposed to continue a certain way, when the trail would get a little wild looking. But then we’d see a “DW” slapped on a tree or a rock and know we were right.
For much of the second half of the hike the trail was as steep as any I’ve ever hiked, and took advantage of tree roots to serve as stairs. Neither of us had ever seen anything quite like it. I’d read from other hikers that good shoes were a must, and they were not exaggerating.
There were twists and turns, along narrow ridges and over rocks, prompting us to use both hands and feet to keep moving forward. We called it our animal crawl, and joked about being mountain antelope as we muscled higher. It was probably the least domesticated hike I’ve ever done.
I recognized the final ascent when I saw a ladder described by other hikers in their reviews, and after we took that we wound around a couple of insanely overgrown switchbacks before emerging at the manicured top of Üetliberg. The trail rose steeply and actually put us immediately on the other side of the grounds’ railing, which we climbed under. I guess that trail is not exactly sanctioned, and I’m sure we looked like jungle people coming out of the woods to all the spectators watching us come out of nowhere.
The view from the “top of Zurich” was beautiful, as expected. It was easy to hang out up there to catch our breath, and for Kevin to catch a Bratwurst.
Getting back down was easy, as we chose a couple of well-maintained trails from the grounds map that lead back to the tram station. While that walk was less adventurous than our upward trek, it was certainly no less beautiful. Flowers, trees, meadows, and the like were our constant companions all the while.
It was also just a smidge less steep than our climb and we ending up surrendering to gravity and running down nearly the entire thing.
We ended our evening with sweaty backs, dirty hands, tangled hair, and tired limbs, and we couldn’t have been happier about it.