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Berner Oberland A Few Weeks in Switzerland, September 2022

The Alps in Switzerland in the Bern Canton.


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Friday September 9, 2022
Partial sun, warm (65F), no rain

Today we did my favourite walk here, from Simmenfalle up to Siebenbrunnen (5 miles return, 300m climb). It took a little longer this year - usually it takes us 50 minutes to do the climb, today it took 60 minutes and that is not counting a 10 minute rest half way. I am definitely not back to full strength. But I did the climb and it was worth it.

After the climb it is about 20 minutes walk to Siebenbrunnen, the seven waterfalls. They were doing logging along the trail and we had to stop as huge logs were moved by an overhead winch. It feels like tourism fits in around working countryside. Farms, animals grazing, hay making, logging all go on while we do our hikes.

There is a restaurant and farm up there. We bought some alp cheese from their self serve fridge. We walked further down the valley and had our lunch at the spot we usually stop at. The day was beautiful - mild and sunny. It clouded over on our descent but didn’t rain.

This valley is my favourite place here. The surrounding mountains are beautiful. There are waterfalls in several places, coming down from the glaciers. Rivers run through the meadows. It is a popular destination but not overrun at all. You can only get there by walking for an hour.

I was happy that I was able to do the climb. Such a wonderful day!


On the climb up to Siebenbrunnen.


Waterfalls on the river.


Logging operation.


Siebenbrunnen, Seven Falls.


The restaurant and farm.


The valley beyond Siebenbrunnen. View from our lunch spot, looking towards Siebenbrunnen.


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Saturday September 10, 2022
Warm (low 60sF), sunny and partially sunny

We went for an easier walk today, driving into Lenk and walking out and back along the river to Simmenfalle (5 miles, 2 hours). We did this walk on our first day here, a week ago. This time we didn’t turn around early. The sun was shining but it was cooler. I wore a light fleece for the first time since spring. We did the walk at a good pace and didn’t need to stop for rests (the hike is flat).

Almost at the turnaround point, where the road in the valley comes near the trail, a woman coming out of her house called us over to say there were cows coming. A Cow Parade! A local farm family were bringing their cows and goats down from the alpine meadows above Simmenfalle to their farms in the valley. The cows were in flower headdresses and wearing ceremonial bells. Fabulous!

A few years ago we talked to a farmer way up above Simmenfalle and he said they were bringing the cows down soon. This might have been his family. Last year we saw a small Cow Parade coming down the trail from Siebenbrunnen. The big Cow Parade is in St Stephen (cancelled this year) but there are always smaller parade throughout September, usually on weekends.

How lucky were we to be at that point in the walk at that time? The trail is only near the road a couple of times.

There were not many people on the trail until the last mile when hundreds of trail runners were coming towards us. It was the Wild 50, a 50km route over two passes, from Adelboden up over a pass to Lenk, then up to Iffigenalp and over the pass into the Valais and down to Crans Montana. There was a help station in Lenk near where we parked. They were heading for a big climb from 1000m to 2600m.

We had a late lunch at home (Rosti! From a package!) and a lazy afternoon.


The start of the Cow Parade.


Cows in their headdresses.


The bus had to wait for the cows to pass.


Close up.


Looking back up the valley towards the end of the walk.


Farm house and sunflowers.


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Sunday September 11, 2022
Sunny and warm (70F)

The weather was perfect today with a clear blue sky. Today we headed out from the apartment and walked along the river to Matten, the next town up the valley. We did this walk last week but went out and back along the same path. Today we walked into Matten then back to Lenk on a higher trail on the other side of the valley. 7 miles.

We did a leisurely pace, stopping several times at benches along both routes. We had our lunch in a small park in Matten. This is a small village with a couple of shops (one is a yarn and fabric shop!) and many old houses. The route to Lenk goes above the road along farm roads and footpaths. We had a good view of the place we are staying.

It was a beautiful day and the walk had some ascent but not much.

This is our second week in Lenk. The forecast shows storms on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but not all day. Monday and Tuesday are in the high 70sF and sunny. When the rain ends the temps go down a bit but it looks like a sunny third week here. We’ve been lucky with the weather. Few years ago we had snow at this same time of year.


Old farmhouse down the street from us.


The path along the river.


Old house in Matten.


Russian! We’ve seen this a few times here.


Koenig Charles III on the front page.


The path from Matten to Lenk.


They have a solar powered cow scrubber! This cow is letting it scratch him.


We are in a chalet on this hillside. It is close to the Boden train stop just before Lenk.


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Monday September 12, 2022
Sunny and hot (75F)

Another lovely day! We drove to Schoenreid (30 minute drive, the town before Saanen) and took the chairlift up to Horneggli. From there we walked on a mostly flat trail for an hour, then walked back. We do this walk on every trip. There are several restaurants about 20 minutes from the chairlift. The one we like best was closed and we had our lunch with us.

We stopped at a bench along the trail and had our lunch. I brought two thermoses with us on this trip, the kind that hold food not liquid. We used them for our first dinner on the road (lentil stew) and they worked well. Today I cooked udon noodles with some vegetables and that worked well. Up until now we’ve had either peanut butter or sautéed zucchini sandwiches.

There were a lot of people on the trail! There were two large school groups. I heard an American as where they were from - Estonia! This trail is popular but I haven’t seen large groups like this before. They take a gondola from Zweisimmen to Rinderberg, the walk about 2 hours to the chairlift.

After our walk we drove into Saanen and had coffee and kuchen sitting outside at a cafe. We bought some groceries from a small shop near the cafe, then drove home. No masks today because I forgot them in the car which was in the underground car park. I also went into a fabric shop and bought some knitted washcloths. I bought these exact ones several years ago and am still using them.

Today was an easier walk because I’m a bit tired out from yesterday’s longer walk.


Top of the Horneggli chairlift.


View from the trail. Looking at the hill on the right where we hiked our first weekend.


On the trail.


Coffee and kuchen.


View from our cafe table in Saanen.


Drinks menu. Look at those prices! 1CHF = $1.




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Tuesday September 13, 2022
Hot (75F), partially sunny, cold and wet weather forecast

It was the last good weather day for the week, according to Swiss Weather (but my BBC weather app shows just one day of rain), and then it turns colder, so today was the day to do an ambitious (for us) hike, but I wasn’t up to it! I just felt tired.

So, instead, we drove up to Iffigenalp (30 minutes, the last half on a timed mountain road), another of my favourite spots here. You park at the top where there is a hostel-type hotel, a restaurant and a farm. There are two good hikes from there - climb 300m up to Langermatte and then down to Siebenbrunnen where we were the other day and on to Simmenfalle where a bus takes you back to Lenk, or climb 500m to Iffigsee (an alpine lake) and back. We’ve done both a couple of times. Today we did a simple out and back on the path up the valley towards Iffigsee, and turned back when it started to get steep. This is a lovely path on a wide path with a gentle uphill and we like to do this when we are wanting something easy.

It was supposed to be sunny and hot (80F) but it was overcast and didn’t get too hot.

On our way back we stopped at the farm and bought goat and alp cheese. We’ve never bought from them before. Usually we don’t eat much cheese but I’ve been craving it, and eating it, this past year. Maybe the steroids that I take which deplete my calcium are responsible for my change in diet. Instead of a self service fridge the sign says to knock at the farmhouse door. We did and a young woman (from Germany, d working there for the summer) came down with us to the cheese cellar. She cut a chunk of Alp cheese from a big round and picked out a round and flat young goat cheese. We had some for lunch later and they were very good.

The afternoon was spent reading on the balcony and watching the deer in the field beside us.


Looking back down the valley.


Looking up the valley.


Farm with cheese cellar at ground level, house above.


Closeup of cheese sign.


The cheese cellar.


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Thursday September 15, 2022
Overcast, cooler (mid 60sF), some drizzle, heavy rain last night

We spent the morning figuring out what to do for week 4 of this trip. Week 2 is ending and we have just one more week in Lenk. We had several ideas for that last week - Semur-en-Auxois in Burgandy, southern Normandy, another week in Switzerland in nearby Kandersteg, Provence.

And the winner is - - Provence. I booked a week in Sablet near Vaison la Romaine. I tried to contact the place that Ann has stayed many times, but they are no longer on VRBO, not on Airbnb and no response from their website.

I found a small house in the village (on the edge, with parking) and booked it through Airbnb. I could have contacted them directly for a bit less of a price but I wanted to get the booking done quickly because I had already lost a place I was considering in Semur. The people who rent this have a winery nearby.

We’ve been to Sablet and nearby Vaison la Romaine on a day trip several years ago, but we’ve never stayed in the area. We’ve stayed in other parts of a few times and stayed in Uzes to the west a few times, plus a stay in Nimes. So we don’t have to tour about Provence and will instead spend a couple of days in Vaison, do some walking, explore the nearby villages and, if I am up for it, go into Orange to see the Roman Theatre that we’ve not seen.

It is a six hour drive from Lenk to Sablet, but driving home from there is the same amount of time as driving home from Lenk.

I’ve also been looking at long range weather forecasts on Accuweather. It looks to be in the low to mid 70s there, warmer than Semur or Normandy or Switzerland. We will have a colder week here in Lenk so will appreciate some warmer weather before heading home.

It was very overcast this morning but lightened midday so we drove into Lenk and did the four mile version of the river walk. The mountains looked close and impressive today. I needed another easy day and am feeling more energetic now.

The Swiss Trail Tour, a three day mountain running race from Lenk, starts tomorrow. Last year we had a good view of the race start/end from our apartment. Tomorrow we may have to drive or walk into town to see the start. Last year it was very wet and they had to shorten the last days route be ause of snow at the higher levels.


Walking along the river in Lenk.


A rainbow after some rain, from our side balcony.


I love watching these peaceful deer in the field beside us.


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Friday September 16, 2022
A mix of cooler weather. High mid 60sF, a bit of sun, cloud on the mountains.

Today we didn’t do much. We drove into town and saw the runners heading out for day 1 of the Swiss Trail Tour. We went back in the afternoon and saw some of them returning but missed seeing the runners in the lead. It rained heavily last night so their trail must have been muddy.

We drove into Zweisimmen, the larger town at the start of our valley and did some grocery shopping.

During the day I was chatting with an older woman from the Netherlands who had her arm in a cast. She drove to Lenk on her own (her partner is in an old age home), went on a bike ride and fell off when stopping. She broke her shoulder. She can’t drive home and is arranging for friends to come and get her and her car.

Cold weather coming tomorrow, maybe snow in the morning. The heat in the apartment works well. We didn’t have to turn it on - it must be all set up. It is underfloor heat and the floors look like wood but they are tile. Very nice floors.

That’s it and I don’t even have a photo!

Oh, I do have a photo! They change our linens each week and changed them today. Here is how they make the bed.


This is the typical Swiss bed setup, two singles on the same frame, large pillows, a duvet for each person folded in three. The last time they did this they made the pillows look like mountains!


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Saturday September 17, 2022
High of 42F! Snow on the mountains. Sunny.

Another easy day because of the cold. Looking out this morning to see snow on the hillside not too far above us was wonderful. It was sunny and I wanted to sit on the balcony but COLD! It was in the 30sF.

We went out after lunch to walk into town and it was much warmer. We brought cold weather things with us so we were warm on the walk. We walked into town and watched some of the Swiss Trail Runners arrive. I think we saw the first few women runners arrive. It was fun to clap them in. There weren’t many people around.

On the way home we got to visit close up with the deer in the field we look out on.


Morning view of snow on the mountains.


The finish line for the Swiss Trail Tour.


The street we are on, looking towards town.


Steve and the deer.


Deer closeup. The are so beautiful!


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Sunday September 18, 2022
Sunny and colder, low 50s, but felt warm

The bad weather is over and it is cooler now. Today was bright sunshine and a clear, blue sky. It felt warm. I wore a light fleece.

We did a wonderful hike, that we did for the first time last year, on the hillside above Boltigen. Boltigen is in the main valley, north of Zweisimmen. It was a 20 minute drive to the start, the tourist office in Reichenbach. This is where we learned about the hike last year when we stopped to ask about hiking nearby. They let you park in their car park.

The hike 2hr30min long, 4 miles, with a good 60 minute uphill to start - 800ft climb. Then downhill back. You climb up on a road to a village partway up the hill. I love this village, Schwarzenmatt. It is spread out along a high valley. Here you leave the road and climb steeper up through woods, under steep stone mountains, to a beautiful hilltop with views all the way to the Lenk mountains.

We had our lunch up here. It was sunny and warm. We’d seen no other hikers, only the people out in the villages. This is such a peaceful, beautiful place up there.

We continued gently downhill to another village, Tubetal. From there we went back to Schwarzenmatt across the fields. Last year we walked down to Boltigen and back along the river, which made the hike longer. This time we went for the shorter version.

I did okay on the uphill, stopping more than I usually would, but doing it easily.

On the drive back we had to stop because a Cow Parade was coming towards us. They went by us and we continued on. It was a small group but the cows were dressed up.

Another wonderful day! We heard the music blasting from Lenk, greeting the finishing trail runners, but didn’t go in to watch. This is the last day.


Start of the hike.


Walking out of Schwarzenmatt.


At the top of the hill, this peaceful farm with some huge trees.


Views down the valley with Lenk mountains beyond.


At the top of the hill.


Walking back lower down on the hillside.


Cow parade on the main road through Zweisimmen.


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Monday September 19, 2022
Some sun, colder (mid 50s).

Tired! We did a big hike today and it wore me out. We took the gondola to the top, Leiterli, then did the long walk back down. For the first hour we walked back into the mountains with a good climb up to a ridge, Gryden. Then on a narrow path across the ridge. A bit further along and you start the decline through fields and woods. It is about 3 hours from there walking down. It was a long walk - 7.97mi/541ft ascent/5hr.

The sun was out for the first two hours and even though it was only around 54F it felt warm. After our lunch, when we started down, the sun disappeared. It reappeared occasionally but it would have been better if it was sunny the whole hike.

It is a lovely walk and we do it every time we are here, but today the descent (1000m) and length (5 hours) was a bit too much for me, but I did it. We took some extra breaks. I was hoping for a hot chocolate and kuchen at Wallegg Stube, a mountain restaurant towards the end of the hike, but it was closed for repairs!

I had another hike with a big descent planned for tomorrow, but I think we will take a day off again and drive into Gstaad.


Starting out from Leiterli. You can see the ridge, Gryden, that we will reach in an hour.


Steve walking across Gryden.


Another shot of Gryden.


Looking back at the climb to Gryden.


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It is good you have still been able to do lots of the walks you enjoy despite your continuing health issues. The country looks gorgeous. I am looking forward to reading about your time in Sablet when you get there.


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Tuesday September 20, 2022
Cool and sunny, high of 58F

We spent the day on the balcony. My legs still hurt from yesterday’s hike so I decided to take it easy. We did drive into town for fresh bread and gipfel (croissants) but that was it. Clear skies and sunny all day. I finished my book “The Marriage Portrait” by Maggie O’Farrell. Very good. Set in Italy in the 1500s, the story of the daughter of the Duke of Florence who marries the Duke of Ferrara. Beautifully written and a good interpretation of these events.


The balcony where I spend so much time.


Those wonderful deer. I will miss them. They frequently come over to this part of the field when we are on the balcony.


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Wednesday September 21, 2022
Warm and sunny, 60F

The sun does not reach this valley until after 9am so you don’t wake up to bright sunshine. This morning there was fog over the mountains but by 9am it was clear and sunny.

Today we did a hike that we’ve never done but has been on my list for years. We parked in town, walked just over a mile to the start of trail that goes up the river towards Iffigenalp (no where closer to park). We’ve never done this hike because we do that drive every year and didn’t think the hike would give us a different experience but we were wrong.

We hiked as far as the falls, 2.5 miles from the trail head, then walked back (7 miles in total from the car). There was a good 30 minute climb at the start, then a gentle climb for the rest. It took us 2 hours to reach the falls and 1hr15min to walk back. The total ascent/descent was 879feet, less than going up to Siebenbrunnen and about the same as we did on the Boltigen hike on Sunday.

The steep climb was in woods and we came out into a beautiful sunny valley. The trail continued along the river, through woods and fields. We saw the road occasionally but it is not a busy road. We saw a few other hikers and a group of bikers coming down the trail at one point.

For the last 15 minutes of the walk we could see the magnificent Iffigfall. We had our lunch at the falls. This hike was beautiful and we will do it again. We could have continued for another hour up to Iffigenalp and taken the bus back but that climb was too much for me.

A bit of last minute shopping in town - postcards! The only store that sells them had been shut for illness but opened today. And some Swiss Alpine Herbs to take home.


Start of the hike from the car park.


The first sunny valley we came to.


Looking back down to Lenk where we started.


On the trail.


The waterfall.


The river.


Steve at our lunch spot.

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