Who doesn’t love a parade?

4 Sep

4 September 2021.

Saturday morning and we were slow to start. Although I was up at 5:00 AM, the planned 08:40 departure came too fast. Lucky for us. Perhaps the universe was smiling on us.

We hit the trail from Grütschalp to Mürren, one of our favorite hikes. It’s easy and scenic. As we are in Switzerland earlier than we have ever been prior, we had hopes of seeing more cows in the high meadows, and maybe some cheese-making in progress. Also, since it is still summery, the wildflowers are still showing off and the grass is thick and abundant.

About the halfway point in our walk, I looked up to see this old girl emerging from her barn. Five minutes earlier we’d have missed it.

A man nearby asked his wife, “Do they do that every day for the walkers or is this something special?”

It is, indeed, special: The transhumance, or more whimsically, a Cow Parade. Each farm, or alp has to bring its animals from alpine meadows to valley quarters for the winter. It seems very early to start this (we saw parades in late September two years ago), but we were treated to the spectical today.

The cows surely know what is happening. Some are bedecked with flowery headgear, most wear the giant bells associated with the ascent in summer and descent in autumn. Giant, heavy, clanging bells. No cows shall be lost.

There was a lot of swirling, some recalcitrance, several of the girls loading up from the water trough before the forced march descending about 2500 feet. It seemed to me that several were reluctant to leave the alpine landscape. Perhaps they were dreading winter in the barn.

17 Responses to “Who doesn’t love a parade?”

  1. Claudia September 7, 2021 at 11:06 #

    This is a fabulous, educational blog entry. I did not know that alp meant farm. I remember reading about some area in Umbria, maybe Abruzzo, about a transhumance event–never heard of it before then, and not again until this post of yours. If I were one of these cows, I would hate to see the summer end, and have to come home down to the valley somewhere. Except of course, once the winter sets in, then the valley seems pretty good.


    • Laurel September 9, 2021 at 09:43 #

      I should clarify a bit on “alp.” It is, of course, a high mountain, but in this instance it means a green mountain pasture where a farmer grazes animals. In cheese-making country this is a summer pasture where the farmer makes cheese (Alp-Käse) from the milk of the cows and so alp has become a term for those small holdings. We see in Switzerland named “alps” that have been in families for generations and now also serve as way stations for hikers serving food and offering beds.


  2. chloe erkenbrecher September 5, 2021 at 09:50 #

    What a wonderful moment for you. So few tourists get to see this.


  3. Deborah Ward September 5, 2021 at 07:42 #

    Very enjoyable, Laurel! It brought to mind “The Sound of Music” (bovine style)! I’m loving this trip for you (us)!


    • Laurel September 5, 2021 at 08:43 #

      Now I am going to have that song in my head! 😬 Happy you are traveling along with us. It is such a joy to be here!


  4. sharp.liz@gmail.com September 4, 2021 at 20:09 #

    Enjoying your Alpine posts and photos. We have not been to the mountains for 3 years.


    • Laurel September 4, 2021 at 21:36 #

      Thanks, Liz. Happy to report the mountains are still glorious and will be here waiting for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Katy Guadagno September 4, 2021 at 15:53 #

    This makes my heart smile:)


    • Laurel September 4, 2021 at 21:40 #

      Wouldn’t Addy go crazy?

      Cows on parade with an alpine backdrop made some big smiles here. Miss you!


  6. gayleseely September 4, 2021 at 15:48 #

    LOVE this! I remember your posting from the previous ‘parade’ and it feels great to know that the cows are still parading, the paths down the mountain are still spectacularly beautiful, and that the world is still spinning, just as it should THANKS!


    • Laurel September 4, 2021 at 21:42 #

      Somehow it does all seems more “normal” when we are out in nature. This is a literal and figurative breath of fresh air for us, a great privilege to be certain. And the weather is spectacular, almost “hot” for here. Might hit 70 next week!


  7. Grier September 4, 2021 at 12:59 #

    What fun! Great timing on your part. Glad you were able to see it this year.


    • Laurel September 4, 2021 at 21:48 #

      We found out last night that it was a scheduled event. Presumably more than the one farm as there was a lot of cleanup in the streets of Lauterbrunnen when we arrived back in town. So fun to see the starting point!


  8. ben oswalt September 4, 2021 at 11:45 #

    That is awesome!!!!!!! Happy and safe travels…..


  9. Marcia Lynn Kakiuchi September 4, 2021 at 11:43 #

    What an extraordinary day for you to have a beautiful hike AND to see this fun cow-parade. Wow. They look all so dressed up!


    • Laurel September 4, 2021 at 21:49 #

      Thanks, Marcia. Wish I knew what the cows thought of it all.


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