Europe: Grindelwald and Kandersteg, Switzerland

British Airway

Ā«Munich, Germany and Lucerne, Switzerland Zermatt and The MatterhornĀ»

15 – 18 June 2000

Hiking in the Grindelwald Bernese Oberland

On Thursday (15 June) we left Lucerne and boarded a train to Meiringen. The train travels over the Brundig Pass, which is one of the most beautiful train trips in Europe. Meiringen is home to Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes fell to his ‘death’. In the middle of town was a Sherlock Holmes statue. The falls are located above town via a five minute ride up a funicular. Once at the falls, we hiked along a trail which took us to the very top of the crashing water. We could look down below from a footbridge. At the top of the falls was a hut that sold snacks. We stopped for some drinks and enjoyed the view of the valley below.

After returning to Meiringen. we continued on to Grindelwald via Interlaken. Grindelwald is a resort in the heart of Switzerland that hosts skiing enthusiasts in the winter and hikers in the summer. The town is in a valley with 12,000 and 13,000 foot peaks surrounding it. Our hostel was a 15 minute walk from town and we had a four person (two bunk bed) room. We enjoyed a nice dinner in the town center at a restaurant with an outdoor terrace looking out at the mountains above.

On Friday morning we boarded the longest gondola in Europe, which was about four miles in length and took about 30 minutes to ride. Our destination was Mannlichen, at about 6,600 feet. We planned to hike down from there to Kleine Scheidegg. It was a little cloudy, but the views were good. First we hiked a short distance uphill to the top of Mannlichen and then began the downhill trek to Kleine Scheidegg. After about 90 minutes we reached Kleine Scheidegg and stopped at a hut for apple strudel with warm vanilla sauce and some drinks.

We decided to continue hiking another 45 minutes to Wengeralp. The wildflowers were especially beautiful during this part of the trip. When we reached Wengeralp, we took a very crowded train to Wengen and then back to Grindelwald. Once back at the hostel, the girls went for a swim at an outdoor public pool down the road. We enjoyed a picnic dinner and a beautiful sunset.

Overnight Treks to Two Huts in the Heart of the Swiss Alps

Saturday (17 June) was a hike to a hut in the Alps where we planned to spend the night before hiking out the next day. This would involve a walk in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, climbing about 2,000 feet to the Berggasthaus Tschingelhorn Hut. The day began with a stop in the town of Lauterbrunnen to leave most of our luggage in lockers. We then took a funicular to Murren to begin our hike.

We passed through the small village of Gimmelwald, crossed a river and began climbing steeply up a ridge on the other side. The climb continued for about two hours as we could see more and more of the valley spread out before us below. Once at the top of the ridge we began hiking down a narrow trail and then finally reached the hut in the late afternoon. Dinner was served at 7pm and included soup, pork stew over mashed potatoes, salad and chocolate pudding with a pear inside. Our room was very cozy with pine walls and big comforters.

On Sunday morning we ventured outside and saw a pretty waterfall on a ridge across from the hut. We started down a different ridge trail to the town of Stechelberg. The hike there was breathtaking, through meadows of wildflowers in bloom, with the white mountaintops overhead and waterfalls crashing down. Once we reached Stechelberg we took a bus and train to Interlaken after retrieving our luggage. There we changed trains and headed, via Spiez, to Kandersteg. The town was located in another valley and was very quaint.

There we boarded some very old chair lifts and took a short ride to the top. From there it was a 20 minute walk to the Oeschinensee, a beautiful Swiss lake. The Berghaus, where we spent the night, was located right next to the lake. We had a six person dormitory to ourselves, as we were the only ones there. During the day the lake was a busy place, but by 6:30pm, when the last chair lift goes down, it became a very quiet place. We enjoyed a nice dinner on the terrace as the sun set and the alpenglow played off the mountains behind the lake.

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