Friday, July 02, 2010

Day 16: Hiking Kleine Scheidegg

 
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The day once again greeted us with sun shine in the morning, with beautiful views of all the mountains around us. We started joking about the Swiss and their regularly scheduled 4:30pm thunderstorms. At 7:00am, we were the only folks at the hotel having breakfast. By 8:00am, we were out the door and heading down towards Grindelwald Grund (900m). I chose to do Kleine Scheidegg today because it was a touristy hike, and I expected even more tourists on Saturday.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

The trail starts off steeply from Grindelwald Grund, winding along the hillsides and occasionally intersecting with the farm road or mountain bike path. I was also clearly over my cold at this point as I felt good and could tackle the walk at a brisk pace, but that was clearly too much for both Phil and Lisa. That was OK, since once in a while I could turn around and stare at the beautiful scenery behind us. At one point, I saw a black hat in the distance. I also saw a big huge backpack, a guidebook in hand, and a giant water bottle sticking out of the backpack. This led me to conclude that the owner must be a Japanese tourist, as she looked kind of Asian. I did not expect to be proven wrong, since my assessment of her pace was that she was going the speed I was, and neither of my companions could sustain that. Imagine my surprise, then, when at a shaded section of the climb I saw her come our way and say in an English accent, "I think the mountain is closed!" "No way." "There's a fence up there and it goes all the way across the road." "It's not closed. Worse comes to worse we can climb over it." She shrugged and walked back with me to the fence. "The Swiss, being the Swiss, if they did close the mountains, would have announcements all the way at the bottom of the hill, not halfway up." And indeed, the fence had a hiker's bypass around it that clearly indicated that we were not intended to be turned back.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

The young lady introduced herself as Flora Liu, and we invited her to hike with us, slow as we were compared to her. She was a student of Economics from London, but was born and raised in Shanghai and on a solo trip through Switzerland before flying back to China for the summer.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

We soon arrived at Blandegg, but it was a little early for the mountain cafe, and we pressed on to Alpiglen, where Lisa and Flora spent some time playing with goats. Flora was tempted to do the hike over to the base of the Eiger from Alpiglen, but decided to stick with her original plan of hiking over the Kleine Scheidegg to Lauterbrunnen. We would separate there and do the classic Panaromic trail, since Lisa had hopes of spotting Edelweiss in the wild, which were typically only found over 2000m.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Hiking in the Swiss Alps is not a wilderness experience. You get to see lots of other people, sign posts, mountain bikers, and even a solar-powered, honor system, cheese vending refrigerator. The flip side of it is that you get water fountains, gondolas and trains to bail you out if you tire, and restaurants at the top of passes that serve ice cream. You can easily hike with just one water bottle, trusting to your ability to get to shelter and train if the weather turns bad. And the old hotels on top of Kleine Scheidegg just don't look ugly to me, unlike many buildings in America that are built in mountains as MacMansions or ski resorts.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

As we approached Kleine Scheidegg (2061m), the views got better and better. I finally reconciled the fact that Kleine Scheidegg was taller than Grosse Scheidegg (1961m), but realizing that Scheidegg must mean saddle, and the "Grosse" part referred to the width of the saddle, not the height. We saw the Eiger's characteristic triangular shape, and I slowly learned (after all these years) to identify the Moench and the Jungfrau.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

At the Kleine Scheidegg train station, I invited Flora to join us for lunch, but she demurred, preferring to look around and then leave for Lauterbrunnen. Phil, Lisa and I ate a quick lunch at the train station and headed along the smooth gentle trail towards Mannlichen.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

The classic panoramic trail from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg exceeded my expectations. Not only did you get the classic view of the three great mountains in the area, you also got grand views of Grindelwald, the First summit (which we would attempt the next day), and Grosse Scheidegg. If you had a panorama feature of the camera, you would spend all day around here exercising it.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

To add to the unfairness of it all, the trail also had flowers galore. We spotted them in all sizes and all colors, and to be honest I'm not enough of a naturalist to identify more than 2 or 3 anywhere, and the variety here just overwhelmed me to the point where I did not even bother trying. All I did was trying to make pretty pictures and wish I had my 5D2, tripod, filters, and the works. I need to make a separate photography-oriented trip to Switzerland.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

By the time we got to Mannlichen, Lisa was tired enough that she refused to hike any more and we took the expensive Gondola down to Grindelwald Grund, where we revisited a grocery store where Lisa had left her arm warmers to find them waiting for us. On the way back to Hotel Alpenblick, we bought some detergent, since I wanted to do laundry. I also spotted stores selling hiking sticks for about 20CHF, which was a bargain if we did 3 more hikes, so Lisa bought one so that the morrow's hike wasn't as painful.

When we got to the hotel I looked at my Garmin 500 and saw that we had hiked more than 20km, and over 1400m of climbing, making this "rest day" a nice challenging walk. I assured Lisa and Phil that tomorrow's hike would be easier.

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