Via Alpina Part7: Hikes around Lauterbrunnen
In Part 1 of this account,
we outlined the project (hiking roughly 1/3 of the Via Alpina across
Switzerland with Tom, Carol, Bob, and Diane), and covered our first two
days, hiking from Mels to Elm (and taking transport to Braunwald). Part 2 took us on to Klausenpass and to Altdorf, home of William Tell. In Part 3 we climbed over the Surenenpass and enjoyed rest days in Engleberg. Part 4 took us over the next pass or two to Meiringen, while Part 5 went on to Grindelwald and an excursion to a high mountain hut. Part 6 finished the linear journey. In this final post, we'll do some hikes around Lauterbrunnen and visit a cool outdoor museum.
What we did in Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen Day Outing 1: Trümmelbach Falls and the Schilthorn
|A relatively open bit of the falls, which are more of a cascade--a series of steep rapids and falls, not a single continuous drop.|
|Looking down into the lighted slot.|
|Let's combine fear of heights with fear of white water for a fun place to stand! (And yes, I suffer from both of those).|
When we had thoroughly explored the falls, we moved on up the valley to take the lift to the Schilthorn. At 9744', the restaurant and viewing platforms promised some great views of the Eiger-Münch-Jungfrau massif. For added fun, it was also "Piz Gloria" in the 1969 James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In fact, without the movie and the funding the studio provided, the restaurant might not have been finished.
|The scenery looked promising on the way up.|
The reality when we reached the summit was less than inspiring.
|Take time to admire the peaks!|
We went and watched the film on the making of the structure and the movie, which was fun, and we hoped would give time for things to clear a bit.
|There was some clearing to the west, toward the pass over which the Via Alpina continues--without us.|
|The main feature, however, remained a mere peepshow.|
We did have a solution for the problem, however: we took the lift back down one stop to the Birg at about 8600'. Bingo--views!
|Eiger, Münch, Jungfrau, and all the rest whose names we don't know.|
This also gave us a chance to play around on the requisite thrill-walk, which wasn't open all the way but did give access to the utterly safe if disconcerting tight-rope walk.
|Diane tests her fear of heights. I did, too, with no problems--that Swiss engineering again.|
In order to enjoy the scenery more and get a little exercise, we took the lift back to Gimmelwald, then walked back up to and through Murren to catch the train to the Murrenbahn lift, which deposited us practically atop our hotel.
|Dropping back into Lauterbrunnen|
We finished with dinner in the restaurant, since this was the last night we would all five be together. We tried assorted classic Swiss dishes, in my case rösti, which looked a lot like eggs and bacon and home fries!
|Heart-stopping, but really tasty. Bob had the equally heart-unhealthy raclette: slabs of cheese melted so one can dip bread and potatoes into it.|
I finished the night with a stroll out after dark to see the falls lighted up. It would have been better if I'd gone farther out away from the cliffs, but it was late and I didn't want to.
Lauterbrunnen, Day 2: Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg
|First we walked the out-and-back mile of the "Royal Walk" to a fantastic viewpoint, with the Lauterbrunnen Valley slashed into the hills below the Jungfrau.|
|This was a metal net, but I was intrigued by the plaid effect. |
|There was a fantastic playground at Männlichen, including this vast cow. You climb up the backside (see stairs) and children can slide down the throat and out the mouth. Seems like it would be more realistic to do it the other way around?|
The walk continuing on to Kleine Scheidegg was fantastic, with straight-on views of the North Face of the Eiger much of the way.
|The train enters the mountain where the rock starts, and pretty much stays inside, which is of course the only way they can run a train to those altitudes.|
The Trip Home
|Wealthy merchant's home, 18th Century?|
|A display about the somewhat artificial creation of "traditional" folk costumes had some gorgeous outfits.|
I didn't track our mileage at Ballenburg, since being in and out of buildings messes with the GPS, but we probably walked upwards of 3 miles. We had two or three hours to spend there, but you could spend days.
The entire trip (in my case, Scotland, England, the Tour de Mt. Blanc and the Via Alpina) took its toll on us, and on our gear. In the end, a fair number of socks, at least one holey t-shirt, and Tom's boots went into the trash. On the other hand, the plastic bag I bought at the Tesco just outside Edinburgh on my very first day in Europe carried my groceries for the entire 7 weeks! I did have to patch one small tear, but I ended up hauling it home, wrapping my boots in it. Next time, however, I will remember to bring my own reusable grocery bag.
|Since recycling this sort of plastic is really hard, I'm working on seeing how long I can keep reusing it.|
Well, that's a wrap! I was in Europe from June 13 to August 5, and in that time I walked around 295 miles and climbed upwards of 69,000'. That's like climbing Mt. Rainier 4 1/2 times--from sea level. I didn't come home skinny, because we were eating way too high on the food chain, but thanks to the walking, I didn't roll home from all those great meals and fantastic cheese!
|A happy sight, as it showed I was almost home.|