|Where:||Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg,
Lauterbrunnen: Bernese Alps
|Recommended:||Lots of water|
Our hike began in the valley at the foot of the Bernese Alps from the town of Gringelwald. The town sits at 1034m. Before we dive into the adventure, how did we get there?
After a 3 hour drive we finally headed on our journey from Lauterbrunnen (parked our cars at the station) and took a train to Grindelwald. Kliene Scheidegg means “minor watershed”. During the winter, this area is a very popular ski resort and during summer months many hikers are seen on this beautiful trail. Elavation of the hotels and shops at Kliene Scheidegg is 2,061 m (6,762 ft). This pass acts as the highest railway station in Europe connecting the two valleys.
Starting from the small town of Grindelwald (population of a little over 3,000), which is situated at 1,034 m (3,392 ft), we made a 1,027 m (3,369 ft) ascent over 9 km (5.6 mi). This first part was a steep incline up the mountain. Something interesting is that we did not see much people walking this part of the trail up, possibly because it was already 11 am when we left or they took the train up and took the trail down in the afternoon. Either way, we enjoyed the trip up (even though it was tough) because we were breathing Alp-air, listening to birds chirping and cow-bells ringing, and enjoying the beautiful mountains, valleys, pasteurs, farms and typical swiss homes. We even saw some “naked sheep”.
Once we reached Kleine Scheidegg, we were dripping in sweat from the 3 hour climb of 3000 feet. Changing into dry clothes was a good idea since it was much colder at the top. We sat down and enjoyed a Panache (2/3 Sprite with 1/3 beer), perfect after a long hike and for preparation for the rest of our hike. Taking a train does not count. You cant enjoy it the same way as someone who hiked up the mountain. While we were enjoying a Panache with a bratwurst, we heard a younger woman say, “I think I’ve seen enough today. I’m tired.” We could never get over this.
The Eigers northface is famous in Switzerland. Some people do the vertical climb. The record is 3 hours. The northface of the mountain is spectacular with distinctive rock walls/peaks, heaps of snow and in a couple parts you could see the glacier that wraps around the peak.
The cool thing about Swiss hiking trails is that there are yellow signs posting the “wander weg” – the right way. These signs show how much further and the time as well. Our goal was to beat the yellow signsposts time – 3 hours and 50mins. We did this stretch in 3!
After an hour of lunch break, we headed down the mountain. We had no idea that this part of the hike would be completely downhill – no level parts at all. The grade at which we were descending was insane. There were parts we couldn’t help but run. Along the way we passed by a town called Wengen along the way. The elevation of Wengen is 1274 m (4180 ft.); the most interesting thing about Wengen is that during the summer it’s population grows 384% and during the winter 769%. Wengen’s year-round population is 1,300 residents. Even when we passed by it, we noticed how quiet it was; residents were watering their plants, kids playing on the swing sets and views that were unbelievable. The town is also famous for no cars. It is a car-free mountain resort. It also has a ski area.
From Wengen, the route turned even steeper toward Lauterbrunnen where our car was parked and our hostel was. Most of the way down was really hard on the knees; then I stopped complaining as we saw two hand fulls of mountain bikers going uphill. We got glimpses of the valley with the long Stabbach falls. Lauterbrunnen means only springs. The valley had more than 50 different waterfalls on both sides falling from 1500m. We finally made it to Camping Jungfrau. Actually not a bad place, small cottages, but still awesome because we slept almost right under one of the waterfalls.
Down we went to Lauterbrunnen where our hostel was. Most of the way down was really hard on the knees; then I stopped complaining as we saw some mountain bikers going uphill. After some time we finally got down and headed to stay at this place called Camping Jungfrau. Actually not a bad place, small cottages, but still awesome because we slept almost right under one of the waterfalls.
Overall, this was probably the most breathyaking trail that we’ve hiked; 18 kilometres in all. Waterfalls, rocky peaks, snow covered peaks, glaciers, and perfect weather. And our goal to beat the time on the yellow signposts was completed.
Note to self: Do another hike in the Swiss Alps next time I come around.