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Report 1021: Switzerland in Slow Motion: 100 Miles on the Alpine Pass Route

By Kaydee from Tennessee, Summer 2005

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Page 13 of 19: Day 10: Kandersteg

photo by Kathy Wood

The Oeschinensee - the mountain lake above Kandersteg

Today was a rest day and we liked having another day at the Hotel Bernerhof. It was the third rest day of the trip, but the first one that we didn't have to do part of the walk. We didn’t set the alarm, but still made it down in time for breakfast. We sat with Al, as usual. Although there were a couple of day hikes we could do in the area, we decided to have a very laid-back day. Charley especially wanted a day off after his long, hard day yesterday. I think I made the right decision yesterday, since my knee didn’t really hurt today at all.

We saw the German couple in the restaurant at breakfast; they had ended up at this hotel too. It's been fun running into the same people at various places along the route, just as we had on the Coast-to-Coast walk in England last summer. The German couple said they had checked the weather and that bad weather was coming in. They were thinking about ending their walk now and heading back to Germany a day early. We decided not to worry too much about the weather; one of our mottos on the trip was “it is what it is.” We would worry about the weather, and potentially an alternate plan, tomorrow morning.

After breakfast we continued our exploration of Kandersteg. We looked in all the shops and bought a couple of things. I found a reasonably-priced book on the wildflowers of Switzerland. We had lunch and a couple of big beers at an outdoor restaurant. A big tabby cat joined us, and Kelly fed it some bread. We passed Al enjoying his lunch on the outdoor terrace of another restaurant. He was also taking a day off, listening to his music and reading a book while he ate.

After lunch, I persuaded Kelly to go with me to the Oeschinensee, which is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. Charley and Al passed the lake yesterday on their way down the mountain and stopped for a beer at the inn there. The Oeschinensee sits above Kandersteg at 5,200 feet (1,300 feet higher than Kandersteg), but fortunately there’s a chairlift to take up the mountain. After all, it was a rest day! I managed to get Kelly to go because I had read there's a summer toboggan ride up at the top of the chairlift. She had enjoyed the summer toboggan in Austria so much. Charley decided to stay at the hotel and take a nap.

We walked toward the mountain from the hotel, maybe half a mile to the chairlift. Then we rode up the mountain, enjoying the pretty summer day and the views of mountains in every direction. There were a couple of clouds in the sky, but I thought it qualified as another “good” day. The “rodelbahn” (summer toboggan ride) was adjacent to the chairlift station at the top. I rode once and then Kelly rode a couple of times. It wasn’t as challenging for her as the place we’d visited several times in Austria, and she had a younger kid tailgating her badly on one ride. But she seemed to enjoy being able to do it again.

After our rides, we walked about a mile on fairly flat terrain to the Oeschinenesee. It really was a beautiful spot, nestled among the mountains. There was a big inn and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace, but cows grazed here and there around the lake, ringing their big old bells. It looked like you could canoe on the little lake and even sunbathe on a warmer day. We saw snow on several of the mountains and some glaciers, and we tried to pick out where Charley and Al had come down.

I would have liked to walk down to Kandersteg, but Kelly wasn’t at all interested, and I did want to get back to Charley and have some relaxation time back at the hotel. So we walked back to the chairlift, rode down, and then walked the half-mile to the hotel. Only three miles of walking today, still a rest day!

We had an excellent dinner tonight with Al, Kris and Phil at the hotel. Kris and Phil had the “set menu,” but we decided to make this a special end-of-trip meal for our family. We ordered three courses each (we all had a mouthwatering filet) and Charley picked out a good bottle of wine.

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