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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 8 of 19: Day 5: Grindelwald

photo by Kathy Wood (badly out-of-breath!)

Wildflowers near Grosse Scheidegg

Although we would have liked a full rest day today, I’m actually very glad we didn’t make the entire long haul from Meiringen yesterday. Al said the section up to Grosse Scheidegg was very long. We decided to get up early and finish our walk, so we could at least have part of the afternoon free.

We had breakfast (a good one) with Al. He had found his way to a bar in Grindelwald last night, and was struggling a bit this morning. He needed that massage today! We took the post bus back up the mountain and then down to the little inn at Schwarzwaldalp, where we started our walk up the long hill to Grosse Scheidegg.

I had a terrible time this morning for some reason. I was really dragging and seemed to have to stop and rest every five minutes. I kept sending Kelly and Charley on ahead and used my old standby excuse of taking photos of wildflowers. Kelly was inspired this morning, a real mountain goat. There were quite a few other hikers out today, and lots of people passed me. I’m sure they wondered if this middle-aged American woman was crazy for trying to hike in these Alps.

Our path wove up and around a twisty road with occasional post buses. The buses had a very distinctive honking music to warn other vehicles they are coming. The scenery was incredible: mountains in every direction, some topped with snow. And the wildflowers were just beautiful. Of course, I needed to take lots of photos! We also stopped to take a couple of photos of a large group of goats grazing among the wildflowers.

We finally made it to the top, a real struggle for me. There was a big mountain inn at Grosse Scheidegg and a lot of activity. We decided to stop for lunch, since the rest of the walk was all downhill. We sat outside on one of the terraces, admiring the view down toward Grindelwald and the huge mountains to the left: the Mönch, the Eiger, and then the famous Jungfrau. We enjoyed the meal and a short break. Kelly had pasta bolognaise, and Charley and I had goulash soup and bread. I felt much better after my soup and a beer.

We had a really good walk down. It was a pretty day and I tied my maroon fleece around my waist and hiked in my tank top. Suddenly everything seemed to change for me; I was back to my old self. I pride myself on being very good at hiking downhill! We hiked through one avalanche area with some very ominous warning signs. Finally we reached the beginning of the residential area with little chalets dotted here and there. Today many of the houses were decorated with Swiss flags because it was an important holiday: August 1st... Swiss National Day.

Our hotel planned a special barbeque for guests that evening because of the holiday. Kelly played badminton with Al and some other guests while the owners cooked a variety of meat on a big grill, chicken and big sausages... yum! They set up a buffet with salads and other side dishes. We ordered big mugs of cold beer.

Al introduced us to another Sherpa couple that had caught up to us here in Grindelwald. He had seen the Sherpa tags on their luggage. Kris and Phil are a married couple, perhaps in between me and Charley in age, from southern England. They had done several other Sherpa walks in Switzerland. Actually, they’ve done just about all the Sherpa walks in Switzerland and decided to repeat this one because they liked it so much. Because they were already familiar with the route, they had constructed a slightly different agenda.

Just as we were getting up to get our food, it started to rain. We stayed dry under the trees for a few minutes, but then it was obvious that the rain wasn’t going to let us eat outdoors. The picnic moved inside and upstairs to the dining room, but it wasn’t quite the same. We enjoyed talking with Al, Kris and Phil. Two new people to talk to!

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