Thursday, August 23, 2012 (Day 6)
weather: Started out clear and beautiful, 70 degrees in the mountains. Middle of the day, clouds started coming in, 65 degrees. end of the hike, 60 degrees, raining, cloudy
18km (11.2 miles) of hiking 7.5 hours
Yet again, the forecast for today was supposed to be cloudy with thunderstorms, but when we woke up at 6am, the skies were clear and the sun was coming out. So, we packed up and took the 2 hours of public transportation to the top of the Schynige Platte hike. We took the train out of Grindelwald to Wilderswald, then took the special funicular train up the mountain to Schynige Platte. We did this advertised 6 hour hike last year, but it was raining and cloudy then so we didn’t get to see any of the panoramas on this ridge-line hike, so we opted to do it again this year.
Well, today on this beautiful day, lots of people were out hiking. Our final destination is the First gondola station we were at yesterday and we have all day. It is 9am and the last gondola down is at 5:30pm. The views really are incredible up here. Wow, we can see all the way down to the Interlaken side of the mountains and the two very long and very blue lakes below. Out of the Schynige Platte rail station, we took the upper path (we had about 3 choices towards First) and this was the correct choice because of the views.
It also took us through some farms with cattle that just loved my camera! The cows at First tended to shy away from me, but these cows on this farm thought the sound of my shutter was intriguing. Either that or they really liked their reflection in my lens. Each time I got down to take a photo, the cow put it’s nose towards me. At one point, i had to back-pedal pretty fast and Mark said the cow nearly licked the camera, coming about 6 inches away from the lens! But I got some great photos out of it. =)
Along our hike, we were also amazed at how good the cell service was up here in the mountains. I was able to send and check my emails and we could both Facebook along the way. It’s pretty awesome. The hike had many ups and downs as we crossed over little peaks along the ridge. We could see for miles and miles all the way across to the Sphinx on the Jungfrau, down to the lakes of Interlaken, and across all the way to the Faulhorn hut we wouldn’t reach for several hours.
Hiking in the sun, even at 70 degrees felt warm, but as soon as we entered the shade, the cool air felt amazing. Eventually the hike got a bit technical as we basically were climbing through rock fields to get to the hut at Mandlenen where we had lunch. I remember getting to this hut last time and finding salvation from all the rain, but the day was still beautiful. Lunch was out on the patio in the saddle of the mountains. We took about a 45 minute break to snack on sausages and bread. Mark got his mid-hike beer as well. =) Unfortunately after lunch we had to climb, climb, climb! Quite a bit of exercise just after lunch.
Also, the clouds started rolling in and about 2pm, it started sprinkling. We took out the rain jackets and put the electronics in the dry bag and kept hiking. It’s a good thing we did because thing we knew it was pouring and we wished we had also put on our rain pants along with the jackets. It was way too late now. The rain pants were safe inside the backpacks, while then it began hailing and the wind increased! Awesome! Here we are up on the ridge-line of the mountains with no shelter at all and it is a cold 60 degrees with rain, wind and hail. We were climbing the rocks towards Faulhorn and when we made a turn straight into the wind and ice, we nearly wished we could give up. Thankfully, the hail only lasted about 10 minutes or so and the rain didn’t really last that long either. As we passed by Faulhorn, bypassing the actual hut since it was a climb up a peak, the rain stopped and our quick dry clothes started drying out a bit.
And now it was cool out for the rest of our hike which felt really good after several days of warm hiking. We passed hikers coming from First who were dry, so we had high hopes of staying out of the rain for the rest of our hike. We stopped for a break at about 2 hours to go, according to the signs, but the sprinkles started catching up to us and we kept going. From here on out it was all downhill and easy going to the Bachalpsee lake area we visited yesterday.
If we stopped too long, it began to sprinkle, but mostly we were dry the rest of the way to the lakes. In fact our clothes had dried out as well and the hike was fun. From a distance away we could see a car parked at the lake and we thought that was a little strange. Stranger still was when we were close enough to hear snippets of music coming from the lake. And then we arrived at the scene of a Bollywood movie shoot! The music certainly gave it away as to what kind of movie it was and we were surprised to see so much equipment here including a huge boom for the cameras and lots of tents and umbrellas for the cast.
We stopped to watch a bit, but movie shoots are really rather boring to watch since not much happens. When the sprinkling rain caught up to us again, we moved on knowing we were just under an hour from First. For part of that hour we were in a cloud, but for most of it we had cool weather and good company for hiking. We also found a small herd of about 8 goats that wanted to get to First as well. In fact they took us all the way back making us feel like goat herders. They stayed right with us the whole time and we were very amused. In fact, when we came upon the cable car station, a large group of tourists all pulled out their cameras as we came around the corner with the goats. We smiled and hiked in with the goats. =)
The original plan was to have an ice cream upon our arrival at First, but the patio had been cleared due to the weather and the same ambiance as yesterday just wasn’t there. So, we took a short break and then went back down on the gondola around 4:45pm….a 7.5 hour hike. Not too bad considering we took almost an hour for lunch and took a break at First as well.
We took a nice long break at the apartment while I packed up for departure tomorrow and then it was time for dinner at Kreuz & Post. I had a yummy potato gnocchi while Mark enjoyed his rosti and veal sausage and rasberry tart for dessert.
It was another great day in the Bernese Oberland. We leave tomorrow for new parts of Switzerland that we haven’t yet visited. We have many places still to go and we are excited. Until then, goodnight.