Hiking the Swiss Alps: Day One

Although getting to the small village where we were staying in the Alps was difficult–4 train changes, a bus ride, and a gondola trip, all while dragging my luggage for studying abroad–it was well worth it. The bern-oberland region of switzerland is easily the neatest, prettiest place I have ever seen, and hiking its mountains is the coolest thing I have ever done. If I had a bucket list prior to this trip, this would be on it (basically, it was awesome).

The first morning we woke up early to have breakfast in the rotating restaurant on the peak of Schilthorn Mountain.

The whole time there I kept saying things like “this is AWESOME”, “just having breakfast in the alps…”, “breakfast, in the Alps. This is the best!” I think I was embarrassing my dad, but that seems to be the norm.

After breakfast I embarked on my first hike from a station right below the Schilthorn peak, down to Gimmelwald where my dad and I were staying.

It was hard to pick out which pictures to post because everything I passed was beautiful and I took about 200 photos on this hike alone, but these are some of my favorites.

(Beginning of the hike-Alps across the valley)

My journey was a 4 hour long, “fairly difficult” hike, but I think growing up as a wild thing and hiking throughout my yard prepared me fairly well.

However, unlike hiking in my yard, the drop to the bottom of these mountains is very far, and some parts of the hike did make my legs a little wobbly. At one point the trail narrowed to less than a foot wide and I had to use a cable to walk along a cliff side.

(Fog in the valley climbing up the mountainside)

 

The walk was almost all downhill, which was nice, except that at some times it was very steep and after an hour or so I was so tired of going downhill I started wishing I could just go uphill…

but, like they say, be careful what you wish for.

At this point I was trying to follow Rick Steve’s directions to a thrilling ridge, and I think it was obvious that I was lost because a group came up and tried to help (which is how I got this picture). All the hikes are very well marked with signs pointing towards each destination, and the town Rick said I should go to wasn’t on the sign, so I figured it would be on the next marker.

After deciding to continue down into a valley, I made it to a restaurant pit stop on one of the hikes, only to find out that the ridge I wanted to hike along was back up the mountain (in fact, behind me in the picture above). The town Rick Steves said I should go to is nowhere on the map or on the markers and his “directions” were very vague and confusing, so I put all blame on him for my getting lost (never mind that I could have looked at the map and seen where the ridge was).

Now, it is hard to complain about being lost in such a beautiful area, but that trek back was thirty minutes up an extremely steep incline, and by the time I got back to the top I was exhausted and very upset with Rick for misleading me.

(beginning of ridge path)

However, all past transgressions were forgotten when I finally made it to the ridge and started walking along the narrow pathway.

As I walked along the high, narrow ridge I got a little wobbly-legged again and at one point even started moving along in a bear crawl (with hands down out in front of me and butt in the air–professional hiking technique)

(looking back on ridge pathway)
I was relieved to make it to the end of the ridge and to wider paths, but this ridge walk was easily one of the high points of the entire hike. From here, it was all downhill, easy paths towards Gimmelwald.

(Some cow friends)

I am convinced that Swiss cows are the happiest cows in the world. In Switzerland cows have rights and they are required to get exercise three days a week in the winter. They also added a nice soundtrack to my walk; throughout my hike I could hear the cow bells in the distance, making a sound like wind chimes or wedding bells.
(Behind a waterfall)
All over the region there are waterfalls and streams of water flowing down from the mountain peaks and I passed one of these on my way down.

 

(Gimmelwald meadow)

Finally, after 4 hours and 45 minutes (additional time thanks to Ricks Steves!) I emerged from the woods into the Gimmelwald valley. At this point I could barely walk and hobbled along to our hotel, but I was so smitten and excited from everything I had seen and done!

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