Wednesday, August 22, 2012 (Day 5)
weather: sunny, warm-feeling 78 degrees on the mountain, warmer in the valley
13.1 km hiked (about 8 miles)
So far we are enjoying the weather forecast. Each night we check the weather and it says tomorrow it will be cloudy and rainy. But when we wake up we see sun and clear skies and the days have been great. So this morning was no different. We woke to clear and sunny weather. While we were getting ready for our hike today we did have a very brief rain shower, so we figured it was a good thing we didn’t get out earlier.
Today we are hiking up First (pronounced fierst). This was actually our first hike last time we visited Grindelwald and you can find my write-up here: First hike 2010. To get to first, we take about a 20-minute gondola ride up the side of the mountain. This is one of the best features of the area! We love that we can start on top of the mountain rather than spending all our energy just climbing to the top. Our gondola ride was beautiful as we admired the landscape. It was feeling quite warm and we wished there were more windows to open inside the gondola, however.
Lots of people are out hiking today, however, the first thing we noticed were all the cows down underneath the gondola station, so we went there first. Plenty of other people were walking up to cows to take their picture, and we joined in. Most amazing to us was that our cell phones had wonderful service up here in the mountains and we could post some of our cow photos to Facebook right there and then.
After I had enough cow photos, we started our hike to the Bachalpsee lakes. It’s a 50 minute walk to and from the lakes. All the hikes are extremely well labeled in Switzerland, though they are labeled by the amount of time it takes to get somewhere as opposed to the distance. I usually take a little longer with all my photo-ops, but we are pretty close. On the way to the lakes we encountered many more Swiss cows and I can surely see why I entitled my previous First hike post, hiking with cows.
The Swiss cows all have special Swiss cowbells around their necks that make it so hiking near them is like hiking through a symphony of cow bells. They are different sizes so they sound different and it is quite musical. I do love the music, though it can be rather loud when you are right next to several cows. =)
At the Bachalpsee lakes, we were most amused to see tiny fish crowding the shorelines. And when I say crowding….I mean hundreds and thousands of fish smaller than my pinkie finger were piled up along the shore. The most amusing part was they were afraid of every movement and sound we made. Even the sound of my camera shutter sent them into a frenzy! The most fun is to sit and wait for the to come to you, then jump up and say “boo.” They make such a racket in the water, jumping and swimming away that the water rippled like there was a swift current.
Today, we only came as far as the lakes. We went back to the First cable car station and to the restaurant with gorgeous, sweeping views from the deck. The best part of hiking in Switzerland is that you are never far from a hut in the mountains with food. There isn’t much need to carry lunch with us. We had our sandwiches and then headed off in the direction of Grosse Scheidegg, located at the saddle between the tall snowy Alps, and the slightly shorter rocky Alps. This hike was new to us since we skipped it last year. Once we reach the saddle, we will be able to take a bus back down to Grindelwald.
I believe the signs listed the distance at 1.5 hours, though we took a bit longer. There were lots of place to stop and admire the scenery, take photos, and detour off to waterfalls and streams. The Swiss flowers are covering the countryside and the chorus of cow bells great us at every turn. Plus every time we look around, we are looking at a glacier, or a snow covered peak of the Eiger, Monch, or Jungfrau. The beauty was just unreal and nearly impossible to capture in a single photograph.
We were extremely happy with our Grosse Scheidegg hike and when we reached the hut at the end of the hike, we only had to wait about 20 minutes for the bus to take us back to Grindelwald. On the way down we were amazed at all the cyclists out riding both up and down the switchbacks. We also admired the huts we could see in precarious positions on the distant mountains. Finally, we hit the town and with a quick stop at the apartment to unwind, we headed off to dinner.
Dinner tonight was at Rend-evous, a place we enjoyed last time we were here. Their patio overlooks the Eiger and the rest of the snow covered peaks and their cheese fondue is amazing. We ate our cheese, and watched as an evening storm started rolling in. By the time we finished eating, in fact, we could hear the thunder and feel a few sprinkles. At the apartment, we had an amazing view of the lightning storm from our porch. The days just don’t get much better than this. =) We might just have to make a pilgrimage to Grindelwald every 2 years or so.