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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 7 of 19: Day 4: Meiringen to Grindelwald

photo by Kathy Wood

Mountain inn at Schwarzwaldalp

We had breakfast with Al, who then headed on his way to Grindelwald. Meanwhile we arranged for a late checkout and waited for the bus from Engstlenalp to arrive with Baxter, the missing stuffed badger. We watched as several buses arrived near the appointed time, and finally Charley went to the bus that seemed to have arrived from Engstlenalp. He spoke to the driver, but there was no package for us with Baxter. We went back to the hotel and Charley called the Engstlenalp hotel again. The man there said there was a problem getting to the bus, and he would mail Baxter to us in the USA. (Postcript: we never saw Baxter again, perhaps he’s now making some Swiss child happy.)

So we were very late getting started on what was to be a very long day anyway.

We walked back through Meiringen, then turned right up to a small suburb-village and finally (gulp!) straight up a mountain. It was a busy hiking day on this Sunday, and we met quite a few people along the route. At Kelly's urging, we stopped after about an hour to eat our lunch on some rocks on the side of the trail. Just as we were finishing, we saw some people we recognized coming down the trail: the other family that had been eating in the hotel dining room last night. They were British, but their pretty teenage daughter went to school in France. Soon after, we stopped to help a man who was hiking with his two sons. They were looking for the path to Reichtenbach Falls. A bit later (while Charley was hiking on ahead), Kelly and I met two German men who talked to us for a long time. Once we got into a more extended conversation, everyone was always very interested in our long trip, especially Kelly’s experience attending a French village school.

Just past a hotel/restaurant and the turnoff for Reichtenbach Falls, we briefly joined a small curvy road and then headed up a path that went up the mountain on a more direct route, frequently crossing and or joining the road. There was some traffic and an occasional yellow post bus. Finally, the path flattened out as we headed up toward extremely high mountains. We passed through a campground of some sort and then by a big old ramshackle hotel. Outside the hotel Kelly and I chatted with a German couple; I’m not even sure how we connected. We asked them what to say when we meet other hikers on the trail. They spoke good English and gave us a couple of possibilities: Guten Morgen! Gruss Gott! Something we had never heard before: Gruetzi! They said even “Hi” would be okay.

Finally we decided to stop walking at a tiny settlement called Schwarzwaldalp where there was a mountain inn and a bus stop. We hadn’t walked all that many miles, but we had gained 2,800 feet in elevation. There were still about two and a half official hours to go with a steep uphill climb (another 1,700 feet), so our family was definitely looking at three hours or more. We sat down at an outside table at the mountain inn, had drinks, used the bathroom, and then took the post bus to Grindelwald. As we traveled up the mountain to the peak at Grosse Scheidegg (about 6,400 feet), we were glad we had decided to take the bus. The downside is that we also decided that we’d give up our rest day tomorrow to finish today’s walk.

We loved the looks of the Hotel Lauberhorn, very alpine in flavor with picnic tables out front. It was located above the main village, in what seemed to be a residential area. Mountains rose in every direction. What a wonderful setting! Al was out on his balcony when we walked up to the hotel and waved to us; he had a towel wrapped around his waist, just out of the shower. We made plans to meet at dinner.

Our room was on the third floor. We had a balcony that looked down toward Grindelwald and absolutely beautiful mountains. We could see glaciers off to the left. Grindelwald is called the glacier village because there are so many glaciers in this area. We showered and relaxed on the balcony.

The hotel had a big dining room on the second floor. We had a good meal and conversation with Al. He was looking forward to a rest day in Grindelwald tomorrow (I was jealous!!!) and talked about having a massage. We had a friendly young waitress who spoke English well. The hotel also had Internet, so I was able to catch up a bit on my correspondence. We were happy to be staying here for two days.

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