Tag Archives: back packing

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…





a walk thru the alps day 4: der nordwand

Day 4: Meiringen to Grindelwald
Distance: 21 km (plus 2 miles to the hostel)
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


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.



a walk thru the alps: day 1 Attinghausen to Engelberg

Day: 1
Distance: 16+ miles
Eats: Nutella, bread, cheese, coffee, bread, cheese, salami, broccoli soup, beer, spaghetti, salad, chocolate, chocolate

After a few missed train and an express train that took us almost to Italy, Kim, Katy, Courtney and I made it Wednesday night to Attinghausen where we began our two week hiking adventure through the Swiss Alps.

First impressions?
-The Swiss have amazingly clean bathrooms.
-The Alps are gorgeous–imagine Yosemite, factorial
-It’s fun to hike amongst friendly Europeans
-Gifts of free Swiss chocolate by a group staying at our hostel = yummy
-Valley of multiple waterfalls = beautiful
-Getting to sleep each night inside on a bed (instead of on air mattress in a tent) could be habit forming.
-Ditto above re: ability to shower daily
-Ditto above re: alpine huts for lunch stop of hot soup, beer, bread, cheese and processed meat served by cute Swiss mountain man

The one downside of the day: we were not able to go to Europe’s tallest karaoke bar on the top of Mt. Titles. There’s always next time…