Sep 072010

9/6/10 (Day 5)

Today was our first cloudy day. But the lack of sun was somewhat nice on our hike. We had breakfast at the lodge again, and this time learned that we could use the bread, meat, and cheese provided to make sandwiches for lunch. Then we learned, that after 9am, we were unable to get our stuff out of the fridge as the kitchen was closed for cleaning. Oh well, we had enough for a picnic lunch.

Typical Swiss building with flowers on the balconies.

Today we walked past the First to the Pfingstegg gondola. The Pfingstegg is a very short gondola ride, but it takes us far up a mountain. There are only 2 cars, one at the top, and one at the bottom and they both move at the same time. The car holds probably up to 20 people, though our trip up only had about 10.

We were greeted at the top by Cocolino, a blue cartoon cat with a fried egg patch, that is apparently a brand for teaching people to cook? There were some funny posters of cocolino on the walls.

We started our hike by going through a gate into a pig enclosure. The pigs were sleeping though, and we moved on without incident. The hike itself involved lots of climbing, some paths steeper than others. We were hiking along the glacier basin that once held the massive Grindelwald Glacier. Today, the glacier is smaller, and we still saw the glacier pretty early in the hike. In 1860 the glacier was about 150 meters taller than it is today, and they thought it was going to take over the town. But, now today the problem is the glacier is shrinking so much that it might disappear. Without the glacier, the rock walls on the sides are starting to collapse in, too. All this info is in a $10 iphone app that we did not buy, but all along the trail, there were notes that indicated which part of the climaguide iphone app to read. That was pretty fancy.

Nothing much notable happened on the hike up. We stopped to watch some rock falls on the a mountain across the way. Also, we saw a sign advertising Rugen Bach informing us that we were only 20 minutes away from a beer. This of course meant we were 20 minutes away from the Baregg hut, restaurant and dorm hotel. I’m still impressed at finding restaurants along the hiking trails. This one mentioned all the supplies were brought in by helicopter and they even had their own private wastewater treatment plant.

Baregg from a far.

We stopped at Baregg for lunch with views of the Grindelwald Glacier. It started too threaten rain, so we put everything away and put on the rain gear, but we never got much rain. We also took a little nap in the comfy chairs they had. A pasture on the side of the mountain down below was full of sheep with their bells on and we were treated to the wind chimes of bells again. As we sat and watched the glacier, we saw several small and large avalanches of snow come tumbling down the glacier as it melted in the sun.

When we got moving again, we hiked towards Schreckhorn, not expecting to get to this mountain as it was over a 3 hour hike away, but we wanted to continue hiking. On the way we passed by the sheep, and climbed more tiny switchbacks, sometimes going nearly straight up the mountain. This hike was less popular than First, but we did see other hikers. The most notable hiker was a Belgium who was hiking in only a speedo. It was always interesting to pass hikers as we didn’t know what language to greet them in. German Hello is Hallo, so we stuck with that, but when we passed some French, we said Bonjour, and we even passed a guy from Detroit. We saw some Italians, some English, and probably many other nationalities.

We ended our hike at an overlook to Grindelwald Glacier. We could see around the side of the mountain now to see another glacier off to the left as well, though it was unnamed on our map. We stopped for a break and for photos before continuing back to Pfingstegg.

Our hike back was more eventful as we saw more animals. For the first time we saw a furry woodland creature instead of just livestock. The ermine was running around in front of us begging for a photo-op, though I had the wrong lens on my camera for a good shot. We also saw a marmot just past the Baregg hut. We followed some sheep down their trail as they did not plan to move out of our way. Then we were followed by several goats who even came bounding down the trail to greet us and see what tasty snacks we might have. I had fun using the macro lens I rented for the trip as well.

Back at Pfienstegg we stopped at a bench to look over Grindelwald far below and all of a sudden the 2 pigs started grunting and chasing each other. Then, they turned and ran directly at us. At the last minute we jumped up on the bench to avoid collision.

Once we escaped from the pigs, we took the gondola down. Overall we hiked just over 6 miles today.

View of lower gondola station.

We had a tasty dinner at an Italian restaurant in town. The pizza there was superb and the dessert was delish. Mark enjoyed his ice cream/gelato dessert and Joanna enjoyed her Profiteroles.

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