Partnunsee is a small lake that is tucked in between the steep limestone slopes of the Rätikon mountain range.
If you imagine the shape of Switzerland on a map, we are on the nose of the "pig" - right along the border with Austria and not far from the country of Liechtenstein. On this late summer weekend, we took our chances and continued driving our electric car past various parking lots to the very last one. The P5 public lot is located nearest to the mouth of the trail, but on busy days you might have to park in P4 or P3.
We ascend to the charming Alpenrösli mountain hut. From a distance, we can already hear the typical Swiss folk music blaring on the radio. And once we spot the sun umbrellas and the blooming flowers along the side of the building, we realize that we have just found the perfect place to take a break.
Homemade fruit pies and Bündner Gerstesuppe barley soup
Markus is the patron of this restaurant with several guest rooms. When we mention to him where we will be spending the night, his answer is telling: "You are among the lucky ones." This is because Markus and his team are helping our friends Adi and Valeria make their dream come true - but more on this later.
We share a slice of homemade pie and a pot of the barley soup - a typical dish for this region of Switzerland. (Simply utter the magic words "Bündner Gerstensuppe" and you will not be disappointed.) Today's destination is a lookout point where the Prättigau valley borders with Austria. Gruoben is at 2043 meters above sea, yet we are still sitting at 1775 meters.
Hiking while surrounded with panoramic views
To our left, green pastures are covering the curvy shapes of this remote back valley (no pun intended!) There, we can see herds of grazing sheep among wooden chalets, as well as groups of hikers who are climbing the steep paths to the top. On our right hand side, the massive cliffs of the Sulzfluh range tower above us. And in front of us, the kind of hiking path we love so much: It is dotted with various shapes of rocks, both big and small, making us consider every step we take.
This is how mountain hiking is fun!
After just 20 minutes, we reach the southern end of Lake Partnun ("Partnunsee"). So far, we have only explored a handful of lakes in the canton of Grisons. But this lake has something special about it, with all that clear blue water and the location at the end of the valley.
We hike past the lake with its public boat dock and fire pits, continuing on to "Hinderem See". There, the path starts to gently slope upwards. And after a short while, it splits. We continue on to the right, getting closer and closer to Gruoben at 2043 meters above sea.
These limestone cliffs are popular among climbers. If you look closely in the center of the picture, you can even spot some daredevils making their way to the top. For the more leisurely climbers, there is a popular via ferrata here, too.
We're staying the night in a pop-up mountain pod
One day, we are going to continue this hike to one of the several mountain huts for an overnight stay. But this weekend, we have a very special and time sensitive invitation. Our friends, Adi and Valeria from the popular LittleCITY lifestyle blog, have invited us to stay at their temporary mountain pod on Lake Partnun!
By the time you are reading this, the pods will be a mere memory. But during the month of August 2017, the two bloggers called these futuristic pods their temporary home. In cooperation with Graubünden Tourism and the local tourism board of the Prättigau, the couple have pulled off this ingenious project.
What better way to draw attention to an otherwise unknown region than by building these social media worthy bungalows? Their promotional video has been viewed in excess of 145k times on Facebook alone!
The pods each have space for a queen size mattress sitting on storage drawers. The main pod where the hosts have been staying also has a built-in mini kitchen with a gas stove. In short: Take a soft mattress, put it on a floating platform, cover it with a futuristic pod and drop it on an Alpine lake...
Yes, this is what dreams are made of, and we feel very fortunate to be staying here!
Around 11 PM after we all went to bed, I could not fall asleep. So I grabbed my camera gear and a flashlight... After playing around with the camera settings for a moment, I got the hang of it and took this humble picture of what I saw in the skies above: The Milky Way and a million stars!
The next morning before sunrise, Partnunsee was as clear as a crystal. We are so thankful to Adi and Valeria for letting us discover the Prättigau valley and its natural beauty. The couple tell us that environmental protection was their top priority. Hence, all the materials used to build the platforms and the pods will be returned to the respective companies who had borrowed them in the first place.
When you strap on your hiking boots to explore Partnunsee in the near future, pull out your smartphone and look up all the memories recorded with the hashtag #BergseeBungalow...
On weekends through Oct 22, 2017, hop on the Bus Alpin in St. Antönien Rüti. From its final destination at Alpenrösli, it is just a 20 minute walk to the Partnunsee.
Take your kids on the interactive Re-Ra-Rätikon hiking path from St. Antönien to Pany. Stay overnight at Berghaus Alpenrösli (starting at 65 francs per person). And definitely rent a scooter at Alpenrösli and descend the 350 meters of altitude back to St. Antönien on two wheels (10 francs for adults, 8 francs for children). You could buy hiking boots online.