Thursday, June 7, 2012

More Alpine adventures

We had to take a couple of days off this week because of rainy weather. Even while it rained, however, we could often see mountains from our hotel room and it seldom rained too hard to go out for a walk. Walti went running and generally proved himself gnarly. He so impressed the guy at the local sport shop that he warned me that I’d have a hard time keeping up on a bike ride with him. Biking, however, is my sport and my rental bike didn’t let me down.

We rode from Murren along the Mountain View Trail. Walti noticed a potential viewpoint up a hill and across a meadow so we left our route and tried to find it. Finally we got stuck when the trail got too steep for us, so we abandoned our bikes and hiked across a pasture with grazing cows. We had plenty of room to get through without disturbing the cattle, but we had to leap from stone to stone in one area to stay out of the “cow pies” filling the field. Finally we reached the top of the pasture and discovered that we’d been climbing to a false crest and the upward trail continued much farther than we were prepared to walk that day. Later we found a better map which showed how we could have reached the desired viewpoint. Unfortunately, we found this improved map at the bottom of the hill and we decided not to go back up.

Near the map, Charlene noticed a farmhouse advertising homemade cheese and other dairy products. We stopped and bought ourselves some cheese. Sadly, they forgot to bring their cheese with them when they went back home today; so Alla and I inherited an extra block to bring with us to Belarus.

We ended our ride with a tour of the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Walti saw something called Trummelbach Falls and led us up to it. He’s a good leader, but nevertheless he led us astray this time. We climbed up a steep trail to the right of the falls and kept seeing tourists on a paved pathway across the water from us. Walti imagined we’d find a bridge, but alas we could not cross the stream. Finally we decided we’d seen enough, so we climbed back down our steep slope and rode back home.

This morning Charlene and Walti left for home. We rode the lift down with them to the parking lot in the valley where they’d left their car. They intended to drop us back at Trummelbach Falls, but we all got off to an earlier-than-expected start and they had time to join us on the correct side of the river. We’re all glad they did, because Trummelbach Falls ranks with me as one of the top wonders of the world. It’s a curly confluence of streams twisting through a towering wall of rock, splashing off of basins and blasting around shiny rock coves. In the early 1900’s somebody dug a tunnel into the rock so people can get up high and see the falls from numerous vantage points. We had a blast.

Alla and I ate lunch in the valley and then rode the tram up to Winteregg. Winteregg is too small to call a village. Primarily, it’s a restaurant with one of the most spectacular views on the planet. We walked from there back to Murren and sat for a long time on a bench overlooking the valley and its backdrop of high peaks.

Between the bike ride and today’s quieter adventures, we took our second rest day yesterday as it rained off and on most of the day. We did get a break in the late afternoon, and we walked down to Gimmelwald and to the forest below. Between Murren and Gimmelwald we saw some of the densest wildflowers we’ve found on the whole trip. I think we’ve been pretty lucky about our timing. The innkeepers and restaurateurs generally plan to begin their season tomorrow. We got here ahead of the spring crowds but after most of the snow melted from the mountain pathways. And I’ve finally fulfilled a lifetime goal of seeing Swiss Alpine wildflowers in spring.

We’re ready to move on. We’ll visit Bern tomorrow and leave for Minsk on Saturday. We’ll make sure to bring Swiss cheese, chocolate, bread, and hazelnuts. Switzerland has so much to offer.

1 comment:

  1. We had a great time together, as you can all well imagine. Steve veritably flew down the mountain with us on his rented 19-inch mountain bike with no suspension. His progress up the mountain was just as stunning. He is in great biking shape!

    Here, for your reading pleasure and intellectual expansion, is the Lord Byron quote, part of which we read on a sign at the Trümmelbach Falls:

    A Dramatic Poem

    Act II, SCENE II
    A lower Valley in the Alps.-- A Cataract.
    Enter Manfred.
    "It is not noon-- the sunbow's rays still arch
    The torrent with the many hues of heaven,
    And roll the sheeted silver's waving column
    O'er the crag's headlong perpendicular,
    And fling its lines of foaming height along,
    And to and fro, like the pale courser's tail,
    The Giant steed, to be bestrode by Death,
    As told in the Apocalypse. No eyes
    But mine now drink this sight of loveliness;
    I should be sole in this sweet solitude,
    And with the Spirit of the place divide
    The homage of these waters."

    by George Gordon, Lord Byron, who visited the Lauterbrunnen Valley in September 1816.

    See for the whole poem.

    It is said in the following link that the poem refers to the Staubbach Fall across the valley that plunges down from Mürren to the valley floor 297 meters below:

    The Mürren Creek Fall is also in the same wall below Mürren and across the valley from the Trümmel Creek Falls. A sign in the valley explains that, after extensive measuring and theorizing, this is the highest waterfall in Switzerland at over 400 meters in height.

    Yours truly,