Hiking in the Swiss Alps
Could there be anything more spectacular than a day spent hiking in the Swiss Alps? Any trip that takes you around Europe, to some of its many iconic cities like Rome, Paris and Amsterdam, should also include a break from the city life. And the perfect place to relax, breathe in the clean air and return back to nature is the Swiss Alps.
After spending all night and most of the day on trains to get there, we finally arrived around 3 in the afternoon to take a gondola up the mountain. How beautiful the surroundings were as we progressed into the sky and at 4620 feet we arrived in Gimmelwald, Switzerland. Eager to unload and refresh we quickly headed for our hostel.
For our time here in Switzerland we decided to stay at Gimmelwald’s Mountain Hostel. I must say from the instant I saw it and met its hosts I knew it was going to be great. But great is an understatement! The staff were beyond warm and welcoming, the guests were friendly and we all became like a family while there, and the views – the views were breathtaking! Looking out the windows you felt like you were on top of the world, looking over a vast cliff and the mountains surrounding you and their peaks were astounding.
The next day we decided to head out on a day hike. What better way is there to explore and experience the Swiss Alps then on foot. A few of our new friends decided to join us. And so in shorts and t-shirts, on what looked to be a gorgeous, warm spring day we headed off. The weather was fantastic, the scenery was unreal, it was nature at its finest We walked along, craning our necks up to see the fog shrouded summits high above, and picturesque waterfalls abounded all along the path.
Along the way we encountered old, wooden buildings of days long gone that were now over taken by trees and greenery. Though we saw little wildlife, you could feel its presence camouflaged in the landscape. We did manage to see an Alpine marmot and also Alpine newts. I never did see a wild mountain goat, just the cute, domestic ones in the village, it’s just one of the many reasons to return.
We caught sight of a cave, about a third the way up the side of the mountain and decided to check it out. We weren’t the first, and I’m sure we won’t be the last to use the cave, as there was remnants of old fires, markings on the walls of people etching their names and the dates they’d been there, amazingly some dating back 100 years. WOW! And so, in hiking tradition, we too left our mark. We decided what better place was there to enjoy our lunch and take a break. Can life get any better than this, I thought. I remember smiling to myself thinking my hodgepodge of fruit, granola bars and water, there in the cave looking out onto a valley in the Swiss Alps was one of the best meals of my life.
At the end of our trail there was a large glacier with a massive waterfall. Absolutely beautiful! Some of us decided to venture up the glacier to the waterfalls. It was steep at time, slippery and totally worth it! When we reached the waterfalls to commemorate our hike we filled our water bottles full of the pristine and crisp, cold water from the falls and drank to our success. That water was the best water I’ve had, it was so pure.
On our way back we ventured off the path and into the valley and followed a quaint little stream. This quaint little stream broadened and became a river with mini rapids – sounds nice right? But me and the girls had ended up on the wrong side of the river and couldn’t make it to the other side. Oh boy! We all tried to think of ideas, jumping – it was too far, continue on and maybe there was a narrowing – couldn’t risk it. Then out of the bushes comes my friend Stacey with a long plank of wood. Seriously!
“Where in the world did you find that?”
“In the bushes.”
Now isn’t that convenient! Too funny! We balanced the plank across the river and with arms outstretched the guys waiting to grab us on the other side, we all made it across and had a good laugh.
Half way back to the hostel it started to drizzle and the temperature started to drop. We quickened the pace. Closer to our hostel, Stacey, Darryl and I decided to head up to the Murren Co-op to get groceries, as we were told it was only 15 minutes up the hill, the others headed back to the hostel.
After a painstaking hour hike up hill – after hiking all day – cold and wet we finally made it and with frozen fingers fumbled our way as quick as we could to grab what we needed. To spare ourselves we opted for the gondola back to the hostel.
We arrived shivering, with possible hypothermia setting in, bleary eyed and stiff to the welcoming, worried and friendly arms of our new friends. All I could think was, ‘boy, do I hope I have change for a shower and I hope there’s hot water.’ After a much need hot shower, dry clothes and a bite to eat we all sat down to chat about our days and it wasn’t until then that we found out the temperature had dropped to 4 degrees – no wonder we were almost icicles.
Ask me if it was worth it and I’ll smile and say, “Absolutely!” It was one of the best days of our two months backpacking Europe that year and hiking in the Swiss Alps was an adventure I’ll never forget.
Have you hiked the Swiss Alps? If so, I’d love to hear about it!
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