Sunday, October 6, 2019 | Written by Karsten
A week ago, I had no plans to travel anywhere this weekend. On Monday, Alek mentioned that a group was going to hike near Interlaken, Switzerland. Though I had already done a hike in Interlaken, I said that I’d be down to go again if they had space. Sure enough, on Friday morning, we left for Switzerland. The weather app all week had predicted rain and highs of about sixty every day.
The plan was to make it to Interlaken at about 1:00 PM, go from Interlaken to Grindewald, and immediately hike up to First and then on to Faulhorn. While I packed some warm clothes, I didn’t expect to need them, especially not on the way up. I started the hike with only a long-sleeve t-shirt and shorts. I decided not to make this hike in my slip-on Vans after how many times I slipped last time. Luckily, the rain held off for most of the way up. Because I played soccer the night before, knew I probably wouldn’t be able to fill up my water bottle, and sweated a decent amount on the way up, I was quite a bit dehydrated once we neared First. As we were climbing the last few stairs on the way to the First Cliff Walk, I had the worst cramp of my life (I don’t think I’ve had a cramp I’ve had since high school football) and both of my legs essentially locked up and I couldn’t move them. Needless to say, after this, I was much slower and actually drank some of my water.
On the Cliff Walk, we waited our turn for pictures and the wind gusts were shaking the overlook a little. Luckily, there was a rail to hold on to. Once we hit this point, I swear the temperature dropped like twenty degrees, so I put my rain jacket and hoodie back on. We continued up from First to Faulhorn. This is where we realized the second surprise of the weekend—the Berghotel Faulhorn, where we were staying, was on a snow-capped peak. Being near the lakes in the valley and seeing the peaks was absolutely crazy. After a couple of pictures, we headed up, and it got extremely cold with the wind gusts. With a surprisingly limited number of slips on the way up, we made it at about 6:15 PM (the hike should’ve taken about 6 hours, and we took like 45 minutes worth of breaks on the way up). I got some crazy looks when I walked in with our group in shorts. We changed and had a soup and macaroni dinner, played some cards, and turned in early (read: before 10:00 PM).
The third surprise of the weekend came when we woke up—it snowed about five inches overnight. We were advised to go back down in a very similar way that we came up, as the cliffs we had intended to hike by were snow-covered with low visibility. While hiking down with snow-covered paths (the only visible path markers were posts) seems pretty dangerous, the fresh-fallen snow had a much larger amount of grip and it was cold enough that any snow that stuck to you didn’t melt and the wind blew it off, so we managed to stay pretty dry. We made it back to the lake, which had much whiter surroundings from the new snow. From there, we went a different route as we had successfully made it down from the line where the snow fell. We took the long path to Bussalp, then Berglauenen, then took the train back to Interlaken. We found our Airbnb, had dinner (where I had fondue for the second time this semester), and explored the city a little. We again turned in pretty early—I think I managed 9 hours of sleep in back-to-back nights.
This morning, we went to Bern, Switzerland. There, we saw the Rose Garden overlooking the city, went to see some bears, and then had lunch. It was a very cool city, and I’m glad we made the stop there on the way back home. I’m writing this as we’re heading back to Metz. We have about a half of a mile of walking left today, which adds to the forty miles I’ve walked so far this weekend. I never would’ve expected that the first time I saw snow was in the first week of October, and I would’ve thought you were crazy if you told me I would’ve seen it and hiked through it, but it was an all around great experience and I’m happy that I was spontaneous enough to decide to tag along on this unique weekend.