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Berner Oberland Switzerland - Grindelwald in the Alps, July 2015

The Alps in Switzerland in the Bern Canton.

Pauline

Forums Admin
Trail out from La Videmanette.

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Launensee.

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Launensee.

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Pauline

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Another hot day (it reached 90F). We took the gondola in Lenk up to Leiterli and did a 5 hour walk with uphill for the first hour then a gentle downhill to Lenk. It was cooler up there and in most places we had a nice breeze, but in some spots it was hot. About two hours into the hike it clouded over (lovely!) and rained for a couple of seconds, then back to hot.

The last hour and a half is in woods along the river, so that was cooler. And it included a stop at a mountain restaurant where we had homemade herbal ice tea (!) and salad (possibly the best salad ever) and beer and apricot kuchen (we shared everything). We had eaten our peanut butter sandwiches on the trail, so this was a 4pm second lunch.

This hike was fabulous with fields of alpine flowers, views to the Lenk mountains and also the Gstaad mountains in part. We did this hike last Septemberand I was freaked out by the very narrow path along a narrow hill top in one part, but this time is was no problem. It was a bit too hot in places and a bit too much downhill, but really is a good hike.

We stopped at a farm to fill our water bottles from their spring and this very old man came out of the field holding what looked like wild chives in one hand and an axe in the other. We had considered stopping at the farmhouse because they had a sign out offering drinks, but the large man in his underpants on the porch put us off. This was a very remote farm, not in sight of any others and accessible only by walking or maybe a trail bike.

We were back in town by 5:30 and knew our terrace would be in full sun, so we drove to Simmenfall at the end of the valley and walked 5 mins to the huge waterfall. It is so loud that we hear it at our apartment. We sat on rocks in front of the waterfall and enjoyed the Swiss air conditioning for a half hour.

Still toying with the idea of staying longer but probably won't. We still have the whole week to go.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
The narrow path an hour into the hike as we cross to the other side of the valley.

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Where we filled our water bottles.

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Mountain restaurant. You can drive here from Lenk.

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Pauline

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Hot enough today (sunny, low 80s), but cooler than the last two days. We had an easy day and spent the morning on the terrace. In the afternoon, when it was getting hotter, we drove to Iffigenalp. It is only 20 mins from Lenk, but the last 10 minutes are on a narrow mountain road that you can only drive up starting from 30 minutes to 45 minutes past the hour, and then down from the top of the hour to 15 minutes after. A one way system. We hiked up here last September, a very steep climb to an alpine lake. This time we walked out and back in the valley, then drove back down.

It is beautiful up there. We saw two large groups of teenagers on school outings, all in hiking gear.

We drove out to Simmenfalle again, this time having strudel and then sitting in front of the waterfall to keep cool.

I tried to get through to British Airways to see if we could rebook our flight but the lines were busy. I think we will go home as scheduled, but I sure could stay here a few more weeks.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Today I feel my age and my feet, knees and legs hurt. We were going to do an easy hike but the Metch gondola that we had planned to use for the ascent doesn't start running for the summer until Saturday.

We drove to Simmenfalle at the end of the valley (1102 meters) and walked up for 4 hours to Langermatte (1856 m). Then back down in 2 hours. The first hour uphill we did last week, to the mountain restaurant and waterfall. We had our lunch today almost in the waterfall. It is a bit hot, maybe 80. Then I got it in my head that I wanted to walk up to the pass, so we could look down on Iffigenalp where we were yesterday. The sign said 1.5 hours but it took us 3 hours.

After the climb to the waterfall we continued on through a beautiful valley enclosed by tall rock mountains with several waterfalls. Then up and up through woods. We thought we were at the top when we reached Langer, which is only a house and a barn. A young girl was playing there and ran over and offered drinks! She took us to a table outside the house where she had a handwritten menu. Beer, mineral water, ice tea and an herbal drink. We had a beer and the herbal drink. She kicked open the basement door to get the beer, then got the herbal drink from the kitchen. 5CHF

There were no adults but we saw them drive up as we were leaving. People who live up in the alps can drive up the very rough mountain roads. Hikers have to walk, sometimes on the road but mostly on trails. This family were most likely farmers in Lenk and moved up to the alpine farm house, with the cows, for the summer.

My favourite thing. Even though this little ragamuffin was 10 at most, she was reading a Swiss gossip magazine while waiting for walkers. We were probably her last customers of the day. She also had a box with handmade jewelry for sale by the hiking trail.

It was nice to have a rest and we should have turned around there. We could look down to Lenk from there. But, no, I wanted to make the top. It was another 30 minutes. Another farm restaurant was right at the top. It was beautiful up there. Wide open, fields of wildflowers, stone mountains with snow very close.

We got to the edge of the pass but instead of looking down to Iffigenalp and the bus stop, there was another valley. I think we were looking into the valley where we were yesterday.

We were both exhausted and really should have turned around earlier because now it was 5pm, the wind was picking up and dark clouds moving in. Thunderstorms were predicted from 4pm on but I chose to ignore that.

We got all the way down in 2 hours. It rained a bit but it was lovely, cool and refreshing. As we were at the car changing out of our boots the skies opened and it poured for 10 minutes. We even had hail!

So, 750 meter ascent in 4 hours and we are exhausted. Hardly prime athletes! I am sore now but this was a fantastic walk!

Sitting here typing this I can here Elvis Presley music coming from Lenk way below us.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
There is a long distance route in this area walking from Engelburg to Saanen in 14 days. The ascent each day is 1000 meters! We only did 750 yesterday!

http://www.sherpaexpeditions.com/Self-Guided-Walking/Switzerland/The-Alpine-Pass-Route

@Kathy has done that walk. We have done parts of it but we use the mountain rides to do the climbing.

Today is overcast and cool for the first time on this trip. Unfortunately the beautiful mountain air smells of mucking!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Today my body screamed "stop walking you idiot" so we did nothing. It is cool today so the apartment was very comfortable all day.

We both read "The Rosie Project" and loved it. We went into town for afternoon coffee and cake because my body was screaming for that too. Then groceries. Drove around Lenk a bit, out on some of the mountain roads. I reverted to driving on the UK side once when 3 cars met at a narrow intersection. Steve reminded me of the side they drive on here and no harm done. See, I really have adjusted to the UK!

Back to the trails tomorrow. Only two walking days left.

Yesterday I made a movie of the 7 minute drive to town on our mountain road and I will post it when we get home. I am totally used to that drive now!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Photos from yesterday. This is the home where the young girl served us drinks.

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View from part way up our hike.

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Photo from today. Steve and the Toyota hybrid we rented (AutoEurope). Our apartment is the top two floors above the car - two apartments side by side with another one below, but we are the only people here now (Interhome). And our narrow mountain road.

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Pauline

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Another wonderful day. We drove to Zweisimmen, train to Schoenreid, gondola to Rellerli, walked across hilltops, through woods, by farms and cows, in fields of flowers, to Sparenmoos (easy 3+ hour walk), then bus back to Zweisimmen.

A bit cooler today but sunny. I miss the hot weather.

One more day and tomorrow night we are packing. I don't want to leave. I want it to be July in Switzerland forever. But I have obligations. Meeting @SusanSeattle on Sunday in Winchcombe. My book club dinner out at the Falcon mid week. And meeting @artnbarb on Minch Commons on Saturday!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
A short video from the car as we drive down the mountain road from our vacation rental. The road is wide enough for one car, with places to pull over. It has a sharp drop off.


Driving down a mountain road in Lenk, Switzerland - YouTube by Pauline posted Today at 8:51 PM
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Today we took the Betelburg Gondola from Lenk, walked back into the mountains, then down to a road on the outskirts of Lenk (the road that goes to Iffigenalp) and got the bus back to our car parked at the gondola station. It was hot ( high 70s) and sunny without a cloud in the sky. The walk took 5 hours.

This is similar to the walk we did earlier in the week, but came down on the other side of Lenk. There was climbing at the start and then a two hour descent going down 800 meters with a very steep part for the last hour. After two hours walking we reached this incredible valley that you can only get to by walking (at Tungelpass). We were at the line where the mountains turn into rock. One route we had considered went up that rock face to Iffigenalp but when we looked at what you had to climb, we kept with our original plan of walking down the valley.

The views were stunning. The alpine flowers were thick and beautiful, so many colors! A perfect walk. We ended at a restaurant where we had a beer mixed with lemonade (panache - Kevin Widrow introduced us to this drink in France and it is popular here) while we waited for the bus. Two other groups had done the same walk. The bus was nearly full when it arrived with hikers from Iffigenalp.

It is a funny feeling for me being here with all these hikers doing similar hiking days. We all have similar hiking gear, follow the same maps, do the same hikes. But, unlike in England where I always talk to other hikers to find out which route they are on and which ones they recommend, here everyone speaks German. We have all this in common but can only nod at each other. Sometimes I find someone who speaks English but usually I don't try. Still I feel like I am part of this hiking community.

Packing tonight, driving to Zurich airport and flying home tomorrow afternoon.
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
From our hike today we looked across to Langermatte above Iffingenalp where we did a big claim a few days ago. It is the green saddle.

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The beautiful valley at Tungelpass. From here we could walk to Launensee above Gstaad.

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Walking down the valley towards Lenk.

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Pauline

Forums Admin
August 2016 update: We are off to Lenk again in a week, staying for two weeks then going into Northern Italy for 5 nights. Rereading this trip report to remember the length of the hikes. Can't wait!
 

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