From herding hotel guests to herding cows: One woman’s escape from the rat race

Katharina Brueggebors scans the meadows for lost and injured cattle on her daily circuit around the Grion peak in the Italian Alps, 2,890 meters (9,480 feet) above sea level. Johannes Simon / Getty Images
Katharina Brueggebors pours out nourishing salt for the cattle. Johannes Simon / Getty Images

High in the Italian Alps, former hotel manager Katharina Brueggebors is getting used to her summer job: cattle herder.

Brueggebors, who had no experience of farming until a few months ago, is hoping the calm and quiet of six months in the Alps will help her to reorient her life.

Living in a traditional alm — a small wooden mountain hut — and accompanied by a faithful sheepdog, Nelly, she watches over a herd of 300 cattle as they graze on the high pastures of the Sesvenna mountain range.

Farmers regularly hire inexperienced help from many walks of life to help in the summer, when their animals are brought up from the valley to mountain plateaux to spend the summer months feeding on the grass-rich meadows of the higher altitudes.

The tradition of transhumance in the mountains of Switzerland, Austria, northern Italy and southern Germany goes back centuries and plays an integral part in Alpine life and agriculture.

-- Getty Images contributed to this report 

Katharina Brueggebors meditates inside her cottage high in the Italian Alps. Johannes Simon / Getty Images
Katharina Brueggebors strokes one of her herd of cows. Johannes Simon / Getty Images
Katharina Brueggebors relaxes inside her hut with sheepdog Nelly. Johannes Simon / Getty Images

EDITOR'S NOTE: Images taken on July 28, 2013 and made available to NBC News today.