Tag Archives: alps

a walk thru the alps day 9: haiku

Day 9: Kandersteg to Lenk
Distance: 16km
Elevation: gained 1200 meters, lost 1000 meters
Eats: the usual

The Alpine Pass Route, a haiku

The Alpine Pass Route
It’s Swiss for knee-replacement
But it is pretty.

Travelers note: the Hotel Alpina in Lenk is amazing! The hosts were very nice, the room was beautiful and clean with it’s own bathroom. Highly recommended!

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a walk thru the alps day 8: punishing

Day 8: Golderli to Kandersteg
Distance: far
Elevation: Really, really, really steep. More elevation gain than last year’s Whitney climb
Eats: the usual, including a Nutela packet licked out clean

Today’s climb was brutal. Punishing. Crazy. Steeper than steep. I’ll let everyone speak in their own words:

“I cried on the side of the cliff and random French people saved me.” Courtney

“I have calves larger than Arnold Schwarzenegger now.” Katy

“I got to know my bronchial tubes for the first time.” Kim

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a walk thru the alps day 7: steep

Day 7: Murren to Golderli
Distance: 15km
Elevation: 3000 ft gained. 3600 ft lost.
Eats: the usual bread, cheese and chocolate.

One word for today’s hike–steep and stunning. Okay, two. It was, according to Courtney, scree-liscious. Scree is crumbling slate and shale. We wound our way up a calf burning ascent of said scree. At times I was afraid I’d fall over backwards from the steepness.

Upon arrival at the top we discovered the heart stopping drop that awaited us. (that’s Kim’s sentence).

It was a rather narrow saddle, so we didn’t linger long, especially since Courtney is rather averse to the heights.

The descent involved wooden steps drilled into the rock face. A cable provided hand hold for part of the way, but then was so close to the ground that it’s use was impractical. Since it had snowed the night before there was a light dusting of what became hard packed snow on each step. The views were amazing, though the journey was a bit intense!

The end of our hike was Golderli, a remote valley where our guesthouse had a sun deck. We enjoyed beer, apple strudel, scrabble and reading for the afternoon. Wonderful after the punishing day.

The best part was dinner. “You must have the dinner here” the guesthouse told us. So we did. We sat at a table with an English couple from London. The dirt course came–soup. The second course came. It looked like something you’d feed a cat. Apparently it was salmon mousse. Thankfully Courtney ate mine. Then, as we prepared for the main course, Parmesan cheese and a smooth applesauce appeared on the table. We joked that the main course would be pasta and pork. It came. Macaroni noodles with meat. Katy took one bite and said ‘hamburger helper!’ The Brits had never had the pleasure of such fine delicacies and were a wee bit horrified as we described. It made for some good table conversation.

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a walk thru the alps day 6: fondue

Day 6: Lauterbrunnen to Murren
Elevation: 3000ft gained
Distance: 10km
Eats: FONDUE. All else pales in comparison.

Today: 3 hours steep. Straight up. A bit brutal. But, it was all worth it when we approached Pension Sonnenberg, with the Swiss flag and the California flag flying on the mountainside.

Since it was such an easy day (we are crazy) we decided to take a day hike along a panoramic view (panoramaweg) in the rain.

The highlight was coming upon a children’s play area complete with a zip line. The Swiss are amazing at creating spaces for their children to enjoy the outdoors. And clearly not litigious considering the zip line could easily have flung a small child off the side of the mountain.

The food highlight of the trip was clearly tonight’s fondue, made by chef surfer Santa Cruz Steve who owns the pension. We now have bellies full of cheese, wine, garlic and bread–what else is there in life? Katy plans to take this place over when Steve is done with it.

Murren, the car-less village, is the highest permanently inhabited village in switzerland. We highly recommend it and Santa Cruz Steve’s pension.

No Schilthorn for us but we’re full and happy.

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a walk thru the alps day 5: mythical

Day 5: Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen
Distance: 19km
Elevation: gained 3500ft dropped 4500ft
Eats: delicious fresh grainy bread, coffee, cheese, fresh local yogurt, creamy vegetable soup in a bread bowl, crisp local apples, chocolate, ovomaltine

Soup in a bread bowl…looking out at a spectacular view: the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau–three of Switzerland’s most famous peaks, glaciers carving a path through them. It’s stunning.

Mythical. That is the word of the day according to Kim. From our lunch break overlooking the three peaks, to our destination–Lauterbrunnen, the idyllic valley that inspired Tolkein’s Rivendell, mythical just about sums it up.

The hiking was somewhat brutal–fairly straight down from the pass, which is a bit rough on the knees. Apparently that’s why all the tour groups take the bus/railroad options. It is a bit disheartening to arrive at the top of a three hour climb and have to wind your way thru a huge tour group decked out in their mountain garb. Though the views from the hike were amazing.

Even more amazing is our accommodation for the night. There were no rooms left at the town hostels so we are in a hotel…only one letter different but a world apart, both in price tag but also in comfort–a private bathroom in our very own room (instead of down the hall), beds with soft sheets (instead of using our ‘sleep sacks’) and plush towels (instead of using our travel towels that are more like chammies) and even a tv (that we have yet to turn on) but most impressive, a balcony view of a waterfall and valley that’d give Yosemite a run for it’s money. Mythical. Spectacular. Stunning. It’s hard not to keep repeating words like that.

A few more Swiss impressions:

-if Switzerland is always neutral, what’s up with the Swiss army knives? (Katy wants to know)

-Swiss cheese is WAY better than swiss cheese

-the wood stacking (along every cabin/barn) would make the most OCD amongst us proud

-almost every house has a vegetable garden overflowing with chard, kale, lettuce, beans, as well as many colorful flowers–perhaps the long winters explain the brief explosion of color…

Tomorrow we have a short three hour day, though straight up the valley wall, to a car-less village and hopefully a trip up the Schilthorn…

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a walk thru the alps day 4: der nordwand

Day 4: Meiringen to Grindelwald
Distance: 21 km (plus 2 miles to the hostel)
Elevation:
Eats: bread, yogurt, hard cheese, coffee, apple, banana, chocolate, bread, cheese, pizza, rosti

Today began a dreicht Swiss day. With full raingear on, we started up the five hour ascent to Grosse Scheidegg, where we enjoyed a celebratory apple strudel with vanilla cream sauce. The up was far better than the down, which was a punishing 3 hours of fairly steep descent. A definite highlight–a black shale steep canyon with a rushing river below.

A few other Swiss impressions:
-the are cows everywhere. Thus the cheese.
-because of the cows, there are turnstiles in the fences to let you pass but not the bovine
-the Swiss seem to be big fans of the seesaw/teeter totter. They are everywhere
-we met a young Swiss wood carver today–it’s a four year apprenticeship program to become a professional wood carver. I’ve never met a wood carver before
-rosti is amazing. Picture a giant hash brown with cheese fried on top of it, topped with half a pig’s worth of bacon and cocktail onion sweet pickle garnish

Another highlight of today is being in the shadow of the Eiger. The Eiger’s North Face is legendary in the mountaineering community. There is also a railroad that runs through the mountain. We’d tell you what it’s like but it costs 210 Swiss Francs, which with the current status of the dollar is pushing $300. Instead we’re planning on heading up the Schilthorn, which has a rotating restaurant featured in the James Bond movie Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It also apparently has a stunning panoramic view. 20110807-092301.jpg

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a walk thru the alps day 3: cheese

Day 3: Engstlenalp to Meiringen
Distance: 15+
Elevation: gained 1530 meters, lost 1095 meters
Eats: bread, yogurt, cheese, honey, coffee, mystery fermented drink, melted cheese on bread, chocolate, pesto pasta, salad, chocolate

The definite highlight of today was the cheese man. He gave us a mystery fermented beverage and melted (freshly made) cheese on toasted bread. Just because. To be nice. He is pictured. With a big round of fresh cheese.

It was supposed to be a short day, but we took a wrong turn and wound up walking along a beautiful ridge. Twice as far, but gorgeous.

Other highlights:
-an angry goat on the ridge
-abundant windflowers
-2 cute Italians
– first glimpse of the Eiger
-cheeseburgers for dinner
-a walk thru Muggenstutz land (a fairy tale dwarf in children’s tales)

Tonight we are staying in Meiringen, home of meringue and the waterfall where Sherlock Holmes died.

We lost yesterday’s post, but the main point was learning the word regin (as in Ronald) which means ‘rain.’

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy with thunder and lightning. We are heading to Gridenwald.

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