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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 10 of 19: Day 7: Lauterbrunnen

photo by Kathy Wood

Looking down on Lauterbrunnen

We didn’t see Al at breakfast; he was planning to go up to the Jungfrau and then do the walk to Murren. I would have liked to do the Jungfrau trip, but our real opportunity was the “free day” in Grindelwald when we had to finish the walk from the day before. The visibility just seemed too poor today to justify the expense, even with our 50% passes. Now we had a reason to come back to Switzerland, and at least we saved a little money.

Kelly saw some of the Trivial Pursuit players at breakfast. They greeted her very enthusiastically. I felt like a celebrity because I was Kelly’s mother.

Our hike to Murren was supposed to take about three hours and cut the time off tomorrow’s long day. We decided not to walk right away and headed down into the main part of the village where there are several sports shops. We bought Kelly a pair of gaiters to keep the water out of her boots. (Now she didn't have to wear the rain pants she detests.) I got a big goofy-looking rain hat so I didn’t have to wear the hood of my rain jacket any more. I looked like an old-fashioned fisherman, not very fashionable. It’s a good thing we had this gear, because it was a nasty day again today, drizzly and very overcast, not a good day for Al’s trip to the Jungfrau.

Charley asked at the hotel desk about the path to Murren. The desk person told him that the path was closed due to erosion from the rain but that we could take the road toward Interlaken for about a mile and then find a path going up to the left. We started off down the main road. We went more than a mile out of Lauterbrunnen and never saw any path on the left. The road was quite busy with almost no shoulder. I was behind Charley and Kelly when suddenly I slipped on the wet road and went down hard on my hands and knees in the gutter. I screamed for Charley because I was afraid a car would come around the corner while I was sprawled on the edge of the narrow road. I said I was fine, but I really wasn’t. So the day didn’t start well for us, first the rain, then our inability to find the path, and then my fall. Our day was slipping away as we trudged in the rain in what was clearly the wrong direction.

Finally we reached a bus stop where it seemed we could catch a bus back to Lauterbrunnen. At that point it was clear there wasn’t a path on the left that would head up to Murren. The sign at the bus stop said it was only a few minutes until the bus would arrive, but we waited 15 minutes and no bus came. Add that to the list of bad omens for the day! A woman on the other side of the street directed us to a path that was a better way to get to back to Lauterbrunnen, now well over a mile away. We walked alongside the river back to the village. It was all very discouraging, though at least we weren’t walking on that busy road! There was no way we could just put off this part of the walk till tomorrow, as we couldn’t possibly do the whole walk in one day.

We stopped at the Tourist Office to ask about the path to Murren. The man there said the main path to Murren was not usable today, but that the alternate path went up right next to our hotel! We have no idea why the desk clerk at our hotel didn’t send us there to begin with.

At that point we needed lunch and an attitude adjustment. As we walked down the street in search of a restaurant, we passed the German couple Kelly and I had talked with on the walk from Meiringen to Grindelwald; the ones who coached us on how to greet hikers we passed on the trail. I think they were surprised that we remembered them, and we enjoyed catching up on what we had each done the last several days.

We found a good restaurant on the main street and sat outside on a porch with a heater. I had very good rosti potatoes with cheese. The Scottish family from yesterday was eating at the next table. They had stayed in Wengen last night and were walking on up to Murren after lunch. (The mother planned to take the train.) They had also taken the train down from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen yesterday. This made the three of us proud again that we had done the whole walk yesterday.

After fortifying ourselves at lunch and taking a bathroom break at our hotel, we headed up the path right by our hotel, next to the funicular. It was extremely wet and muddy. We crossed under the funicular track a couple of times. This was not a fun walk at all: wet, steep, and dirty. We made lots of stops. The Scottish man and his son passed us going full-speed up the hill. They made much better time when they weren’t walking with the mother, much as it hurts me to say that! Finally we reached a road near the funicular station at Grütschalp. This road went across the mountain to Murren, an easy walk but kind of boring. Kelly started up the ABC game again. We did see a couple of other people: a woman picking berries with her dog and a couple of young men who didn’t seem like hikers. We slowed down and let those guys get ahead. The road became gravel; it was very forested and foggy. We must have passed by at least ten waterfalls, each one labelled with a name. A man and woman we met coming from Murren said it was still very foggy up ahead. We told Kelly not to get too far away from us because of the fog.

After about an hour we came to a rail stop called Winteregg, just a little inn and a place to wait for the train that ran back and forth across the mountain from Grütschalp to Murren. We were still an hour from Murren. According to the posted schedule, it was only two minutes until the next train, so we decided to stop at this point and do this last bit of the walk (an easy part) to Murren in the morning. We took the train back to the funicular station at Grütschalp, then the funicular back down to Lauterbrunnen. Our 50% passes worked on these mountain trains and funiculars, and Kelly was free.

What a hard day, even though we didn’t cover much territory! My knee was hurting from my fall on the road, but I didn’t say anything.

We could have eaten anywhere in town since our dinner wasn’t included tonight, but we had liked the dinner at the hotel last night and made plans with Al to eat there again. Kelly had the same meal today that she had last night: chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce. Al told us about his trip up to the Jungfrau; it was very snowy, he really couldn’t see a thing, and he got dizzy from the altitude. But he traveled up to 11,335 feet, and I think he enjoyed the experience.

We went to bed early... we would have a big day tomorrow.

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