A hiker is lost in the Swiss Alps. The ski lifts were broken down and the usual walking paths were out of order, so he did his best to find his way around the mountain. But as the mighty mountain gave way to an almost entirely deserted town, bewilderment turned to worry.
In August 2016, the scenario was described in a post that appeared on reddit. The article quickly struck a chord with its users, and not just because it opened up the gates to some clawful feline-related puns. No, writing under the name sc4s2cg, this Hungarian redditor told a story about a furry friend that sounded familiar to several other redditors too.
The OP’s story began in picturesque Lauterbrunnen, a beautiful village nestled in the country’s biggest natural conservation sites: Lauterbrunnen Valley. Skiers and hikers come here from around the world to experience the adventure of exploring the Swiss Alps.
Indeed, the village is close to a World Natural Heritage site called Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch, situated 2,631 feet in the mountains. Because of such high elevations, isolated areas in the Alps aren’t even accessible by road vehicles; tourists and locals have to rely on their own two feet or use cable cars for transportation.
Naturally, snow sports enthusiasts also visit the Alps and take advantage of the skiing on the mountain slopes. In fact, the OP had been staying at Lauterbrunnen’s Valley Hostel and had gone hiking to take in some of the area’s incredible views.
“The lifts weren’t working and some of the trails were closed. So what I did was follow a roundabout trail up the mountain, and then follow those ski lifts further,” sc4s2cg explained on reddit. It seems that the poster had his sights set on one of the highest points of a neighboring village.
“Eventually I got to the top [and] decided to follow a train track into the middle of a totally empty town,” he wrote. Unfortunately, the OP had sprained his ankle the previous week so wasn’t wanting to make this hike too strenuous. However, being isolated in a deserted town in the middle of the mountains while nursing an old injury sounds just like a set-up for a horror film.
But it would be difficult to get scared in such a stunning place as this one. Yes, the OP had stumbled into the sleepy little village of Gimmelwald, which sits in the mountains above Lauterbrunnen. Discovering such storybook beauty must have been like finding a lost treasure.
Gimmelwald is, in fact, a small rural village in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. According to Gimmelwald.com, many visitors have fallen in love with the village’s sleepy lifestyle and have a saying. Apparently, they state, “If Heaven isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, send me back to Gimmelwald.”
Set high in the mountains, at 4,472 feet exactly, Gimmelwald is one of the places that you can’t reach by road. In fact, the town boasts “no cars, no TV, no newspapers, not even a food store… It’s a different world.”
In 2003, Gimmelwald’s entire population was marked at 130, so it is no surprise that ,with the end of skiing season and shops closed, the village would certainly have looked abandoned to this Hungarian hiker. Still, the OP managed to find at least one store open.
“There was one shop owner there (where I got new socks from because mine were soaked),” sc4s2cg wrote. “I hiked to the tip of the town, to what I think was a tavern/restaurant with an amazing view of the valley.” It was then that he realized he was lost.
“I was checking my map to see how I can get back to the hostel, and the only official way down was through a trail that was closed,” the OP recounted. Still, even with a sprained ankle, there were worse places to be stranded than this amazing locale.
Just as he was trying to work out how he was going to get back to Lauterbrunnen, then, sc4s2cg had an unexpected visitor. “That’s how I met that handsome cat,” he explained. “She (?) noticed me [as] I was eating a snack and resting my sprained ankle.”
The OP was sharing videos of the trip with his family, so he recorded the cat’s arrival. “This cat just started meowing at me,” he narrated. “I started my walk, and she just started coming after me.” The playful kitty seemed to like the attention, and it headed off down the trail ahead of sc4s2cg.
As the OP traveled further down the path, the cat stayed ahead of him. In fact, the cat “was walking and kept looking at me to follow,” sc4s2cg reported. So, with no better ideas, the OP decided to go after the cat and see where it led him.
Thankfully, the little cat was on the right track. sc4s2cg wrote, “[She] led me straight to the path that would take me back down to the valley. At the end of the video is where we separated: she [went] to that farm-like place on the right, through those trees in front.”
With her job done, the guide cat wandered off and left the OP on the trail leading back to his hostel. Strangely, though, after other redditors read sc4s2cg’s report, some of them seemed to recognize the friendly cat (or one similar to it). In fact, one poster identified the cat as belonging to couple who run a local hostel.
There are some people who think the cat’s motives are a little fishy and suspect it might have just been on the hunt at local places for food. There may be a whisker of truth in there, but regardless, the story has become a viral hit on social media.
Although we won’t be seeing felines trained to find lost people in the mountains any time soon, we’re sure that sc4s2cg was happy the cat came along when it did. As one fellow reddit commenter said, “[It is] just one of many brave and dedicated Swiss Guide Cats doing its duty, asking nothing but a friendly pat in return.”