Saturday, July 03, 2010

Day 17: Hiking Bachalpsee

 
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We woke up to another clear and beautiful day, and quickly started heading up the First side of Grindelwald. Lisa wasn't sure how far she wanted to go today, but the hiking stick helped her a lot, and soon the beauty of the surroundings inspired her to forget her aches and move up the mountain. Unlike the Kleine Scheidegg side, the First side is completely exposed even at the bottom, and it wasn't long before we started sweating in the morning sun.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Since this side of the valley got a lot more sun, there were flowers, even at the lower elevation where the other side would have trees preventing low grasses from growing. At Bort, Lisa proposed to take the more shaded flower trail up rather than the direct route to First along the Gondola line, which was more exposed. The flower trail definitely had a lot of flowers, but rarely in a good place for good pictures. We shot lots of flower pictures but nothing I would be happy to show others. Halfway between Bort and Waldspitz, we ran into a bunch of locals on their morning walk. When Lisa asked them if they were locals, they said, "Yes, we are village people." I expected them to break out into a rendition of "YMCA", but I guess they didn't realize what they were saying.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

At Waldspitz, which looked like an almost newly built hotel, we stopped for ice tea and to watch paragliders float up amongst the alps, juxtaposing their brightly colored parachutes against the backdrop of the Wetterhorn, the Eiger, and other surrounding mountains. Past Waldspitz, the trail becomes exposed again, and after a short flat section, suddenly veered off along a stream and took up steeply up the mountain.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

This was where the hike started to get really pretty. The stream wound along a valley while behind us the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau loomed behind us while the green hills around Bachalpsee beckoned ahead of us. At a short rise I ran into a Japanese looking person coming down the mountain. She smiled at me so I asked her, "Nihongjin desu ka?" "Eei, chugokujin desu!" Boy, I was wrong 2 for 2 twice in a row. We chatted for a bit and discovered that not only were we both Chinese, Linlin went to the same high school I went to in Singapore. We exchanged e-mail addresses and then went on, since she was heading down the mountain and we were heading up.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

Bachalpsee turned out to be a beautiful tarn, but was over-run by tourists. Most tourists took the First Gondola up the mountain and then walked the short hike over to Bachalpsee, resulting in the place being over-run with people, many of them needing hiking poles to even walk the short gentle stretch between the ski station and here. Nevertheless, the walk between Bachalpsee and First was beautiful, and well worth the time.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

At First, we took a quick lunch, and then proceeded down the steep trail towards Waldspitz that came off the side of the First gondola. While the alternate, more exposed route back to Bort would avoid having to retrace our steps through the flower trail, I was far more intrigued by the steep descent back through the other side of the river valley which had led us up to Bachalpsee. This traverse is not for the faint of heart, as the trail falls steeply on one side, but Lisa had her hiking stick, and I didn't mind at all. The scenery was spectacular as a result, making the effort worth while.
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

By this time, however, dark clouds were starting to form up over the mountains, and as we got off the single-track onto the dirt road towards Waldspitz, we started to feel rain drops. Fortunately, the flower trail was mostly under tree cover, so we made the descent towards Bort in a hurry. The rain picked up again, however, within half a kilometer of Bort, and we saw at the gondola station that every car coming up the mountain was empty, while every car leaving the station was full. We ran that least 200m and made it to the gondola station before the thunderstorm really started hammering down. Looking at my Garmin 500, I saw that it was only 3:30pm. "The regularly scheduled thunderstorm was early today!"
From Tour of the German Speaking Alps 2010

We were quite pleased with ourselves for having done the hike before the rain, and were happy to take the gondola down. When the rain died down, I did laundry again, and we had nice big dinners in town. I reflected that my avoidance of Grindelwald in the past was really unnecessary. While the town was touristy and packed with Japanese tourists, most of the hiking was done in really nice country where we did not see that many people. And because the town was relatively big, we found lodging at a reasonable price.

That night, a couple of mountain bikers checked in, and one of them, Nina, showed me all the maps she had for her mountain biking trip. It was impressive and inspiring, and led to me wanting to do a more rough-stuff oriented tour next year.

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