A dubious sky greeted Raul and Lauren this morning, so after breakfast, they decided to skip the cable car trip up Schilthorn to Piz Gloria. Instead, they departed with 1,5 L of H2O for perhaps a four-hour hike, a hike to a glacier field that is supposed to be good for a rainy day.
Since they weren’t going to hike all day, they didn’t pack a lunch but brought an apple, a granola bar, and some delicious Swiss chocolate bars. The sky continued its deliberation, with periods of light sprinkles, but it mostly seemed to be clearing up. They set out from Gimmelwald toward the Sefinen Valley and Chilchbalm, the glacier field, heading downhill for half an hour but then moving ever uphill. They passed several waterfalls, for the snow is melting on top of the mountains and making them full. They more or less followed the course of a raging river down below. As they neared the end of the trail, a huge pile of snow and forest debris covered the way forward. It looked as though an avalanche or landslide had destroyed the path, and a sign warned that further passage was prohibited.
From here there was a choice to make: return to Gimmelwald the way they came or try a more challenging hike up and around the valley, with an approach to Gimmelwald from above. The loop is said to take approximately five hours, and they had already covered at least an hour and a half. Halfway or so, the map showed a mountain refuge that might have provisions for the travellers. They set out with high spirits, but the steep climb was beginning to take its toll on Lauren.
The views of the valley and surrounding mountains were quite naturally magnificent. The mountains, covered in pine trees and wildflowers, were breathtaking. The weather was great as well, with cool temperatures and periods of cloud cover to protect them from the sun. They kept climbing for about two to three hours, and at points the trail was only recently dug out, so they weren’t sure if they were supposed to be on it at all. Raul, of course, always felt “fine,” but with the endless steep climb, the difficulty of the trail started to outweigh the beautiful scenery for Lauren.
By the time the mountain refuge was in their sights, Lauren was weary and of low spirits from the steep climb. The hut was still far off, and they almost gave up when they came upon a section of the trail which was obscured by about 50 yards of snow. They scrambled over the snow and persevered over the next ridge before deciding it was best to just return to Gimmelwald the way they had come. Even if the hut was open (not a certainty), they still had not reached the point at which the trail would turn back to Gimmelwald. By this point, they had literally climbed a mountain and made it just past the tree line. To conserve water, they even drank a few drops of rainwater caught in some leaves on the mountain. The return trip took almost three hours, and the last 40 minutes were in light rain, which they were prepared for with their sweet rain jackets.
Back in the room, they were too tired to do anything but take a nap, and the rain made outdoor activities unviable anyway. Lauren had forgotten her Lenten resolution to “not say anything at all” if she didn’t have anything nice to say and thus had complained about the difficulty of the hike. She felt much better back at the pension and played Bejeweled to relieve her stress, while Raul napped. It was an early evening, and they got a good rest for the next day of travel.
|Day 19||Sunday 3 June||Gimmelwald|
|08:00||▲▲▲The Schilthorn and a 10,000-Foot Breakfast, take cable-car from Gimmelwald, S₣37 from Mürren, 2 per hour, 30m|
|10:00||Take cable-car down to Birg|
|10:15||▲▲Birg to Gimmelwald via Brünli hike, only if clear of snow, 4 hours|