Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 31 - Down The Mountain, Up The Mountain. Result: Same Spot I Started. Smart.

Hey Team,

So today I decided to try out my my mountain man skills and do a bit of hiking.  I had planned on doing all of this by myself, but as I said, I ran into three guys at the hostel and we decided to do the morning hike together.  They were catching a train out of town in the afternoon so from there I would head back to Gimmelwald solo.  I hadn't really hung out with any guys for an extended period of time on the trip so it was a nice change of pace for me.  Our path was basically the reverse of how I got to Gimmelwald except there would be no lifts or buses.  We would hike it.

The day was split into thirds essentially.  First part was a 2000 foot hike down to a town called Stechelberg, followed by a nice little walk on the valley floor to Lauterbrunnen where I would leave the other guys, and then a nice strong finish up 2000 feet to a town called Murren at which point I would take a lift back to Gimmelwald.

So here was the first thing that I saw as I walked out of the hostel.  It's a tough life, but I'm willing to sacrifice so you don't have to go through what is obviously nothing less than pure hell over here.

I think I take back what I said yesterday about the Christmas Card.  We may have a new name on the leaderboard here.

So we started our decent down the mountain.  Here's what I was wearing:  blue jeans, my jacket and fleece, and a pair of walking shoes.  Now this was perfectly adequate for what I was doing, but it turns out it was a bit icy in spots and the grade on this decline was not exactly a nice leisurely stroll.  So what I thought was going to be the easier part of the hike turned out to be one of the hardest parts.  Going back up was more exhausting, but this part was a bit more hazardous due to that whole gravity thing threatening to send me face first onto a step a few feet below me.  Glad to say that after a good hour to an hour and a half, we made it down the mountain.  I'm doubly happy to report that I made it through without incident and we were rewarded with this amazing view of the valley floor. That's Stechelburg in the foreground.

After we made it down, the easy part of the trip started, which was a 2 hour walk along the valley floor to the next town of Lauterbrunnen.  This is just another beautiful shot of the mountain range.

Hallelujah!! Flat Ground!!

The next three are just more pretty shots of our walk including a waterfall that's over a quarter mile high.

After about two hours, we made it to Lauterbrunnen where we rewarded ourselves with nutella and raspberry jam sandwiches, paprika flavored potato chips (not bad actually), and cold crisp water that the city pumps out continuously from the mountain springs.

Here's a shot of my 3 new buds and me from Left to Right:

Josh, Eric, me, and Greg

Learned a lot from these guys about hiking and climbing while we were going, not to mention just enjoyed hanging out.  Had a blast fellas and really enjoyed the day.  All the best going forward.

At this point, we parted ways and I began my ascent back up.  I was a little fatigued but I really wanted to do this part so I headed back to the mountain.  Worked out fine in the end but it was definitely a work out.  For about an hour and a half or more this was my view.

If you see my pictures from the day, there will be several like this.  Why?  Well, I had to justify stopping somehow.  I'd see a tree stump and say, "That looks important.  I probably should take a picture."  This happened ever 45 seconds or so.

I'm sure you've noticed, but the photos are alternating between snow and this.  It never snowed while I was there, but the higher up we went, the more likely we were to see the white stuff that had fallen previous to my arrival.  This was obviously lower to the valley.

So after an hour or so, I came to a clearing on the mountain and got to see this.  That's the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau from yesterday.  Beautiful.  I found a nice rock and just enjoyed the views for about 10 minutes.  One of the best moments of the day for sure.

Here's a detail shot of a glacier that's on the Jungfrau. You can tell it's a glacier by the bluish tint that the ice has.  I don't know if you can see it here, but most of the peaks have a couple of these hanging out near the top.

So once I got to the clearing, I was under the impression that I was finishing up.  Oh how wrong I was.  Turns out the hardest part was coming up.  The first leg was going up but at least there was no snow and ice.  This part was basically the same thing but with the white stuff.  Don't get me wrong it was beautiful (as you can see), but it was a little slower going as I had to watch my footing.

This was what the path looked like.  Thankfully the snow was there because it was much easier to get my footing as opposed to the bare rock which was icy.  When I finished, I was never so glad to see concrete in my life.

I made it from the valley to Murren in about 2:15 which was not bad I thought.  For people who hike on a regular basis this probably was not too intense of a day, but considering I don't need all my fingers to count the number of times I've seen snow, combined with my propensity to spontaneously fall down, I was happy with the effort.

The scenery was absolutely gorgeous and I had a great day on the mountainside.  Very rewarding part of the trip and now I can say I've hiked in the Alps.  After 5 or 6 hours of doing this, it's safe to say I slept fairly well that night.

Tomorrow I take a scenic train from Interlaken to a little town called Montreaux on the East Bank of Lake Geneva.  See you then. . .