We’re not quite sure what the culprit was. October is not the time to be hunting for flip flops – snow boots yes, summer wear, nope! We had brought the computer with us since our campsite didn’t have internet and stopped off at a coffee shop to use the wifi. We ordered a large hot chocolate and a pecan pie to share; both were very tasty and hit the spot on a cool day. We checked the forecast for the next few days and had two more days of mostly sun coming up! We then headed back to camp in time to see the cows heading down the path in time for milking. We stopped to let them go by and they wandered past, sniffing my handlebars and leaving a nice big cow slime on the end. Luckily Anoop had his handkerchief so I could wipe it off…
October 5, 2012
We woke up for an early start to be able to fit everything in for the day. Anoop had been reading a brochure and was interested in going to the top of the Rothorn on the oldest steam cog railway in the area (and the only one still running on steam on a regular basis). We caught the bus at 7:15 and then transferred to the train to Interlaken. We then hopped on another train to Brienz. The Swiss rail system is amazing. All of our trains lined up with enough time to transfer, but not too much time so we didn’t end up sitting around waiting for them.
They all leave on time so there is no point running hoping one will be late – you just have to wait for the next one if you miss it! This was great for me because I hate it when trains, buses, ferries are late and I also don’t like waiting around! From Brienz we crossed the street to the station heading up to the Rothorn. On the tracks there was a green engine steaming away and two red cars with neat windows that lifted up in front of it. We hopped in the front car with hopes of being able to get some pictures of the engine as the train went around corners. We were on the first train up of the morning at 8:36 and had a whole row of seats to ourselves.
We puffed our way up with lots of views along the way and Anoop shifted madly from side to side depending on which side the views (or the train engine) were on. Half way up we stopped to fill up with more water and then continued on to the top. It was fun heading up in the steam train because it is not nearly as smooth as an electric train and you really do feel like it is saying "I think I can, I think I can" when going up the steeper sections. As we came around the corner out of the woods we could see Lake Brienz stretching out below us and it was quite amazing to think that just a short while before we had been at lake level. It was a beautiful turquoise colour and just beautiful with mountains rising on either side of it. We arrived at the top about an hour after we started off from the bottom and were amazed at how much elevation we had gained.
The views all around were incredible and we had about an hour and a half at the top to explore and take pictures before heading back down. On one side we could see 3 or 4 lakes extending off into the distance, one of which was completely covered by clouds and fog – we figured it must be around Lucerne since we had not yet seen the mountains around it despite passing through twice. We could see Brienz, Interlaken, the 3 peaks (Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau ), an amazing ridge and smaller towns all around. On the way back down we stopped to let two very full trains go by – they definitely did not have a whole row to themselves! Anoop continued snapping pics like mad while I enjoyed the views all around. Once we got to the bottom we hopped back on the train to Interlaken and then transferred to a train which let us off at Wildserswil.
We transferred to yet another train which was heading up to Schynige Platte. It used to be a steam cog railway but since there is so much demand they now use diesel engines. On special days in the summer they still use a steam engine. We sat on wooden seats and once again enjoyed amazing views on the way up. The cars, some original, some refurbished, are exactly the same design as they used be nearly a hundred years ago. We had several views of the valley below on the left because several years before there had been a huge windstorm which knocked down a lot of trees leaving perfect photo spots for everyone heading up on the train.
We made a few stops at small stations on the way up and after we passed through the last tunnel we were met with incredible views of the 3 peaks ahead of us. They seem to be amazing from whichever angle you view them from.
At the top there is a Lowa test centre; Lowa is a well-known German hiking boot company over here and there are tons of people wearing them. We decided since we were going on a short hike to test out a pair. We found some that fit, put our insoles in and headed off. The lady said the store was closing at 4:20, but that she would leave our shoes at the train station at the bottom and we should just go to the information person who would then do the swap. We set off along the trail and stopped part way along for views of the trains heading back down the mountain. We climbed up beside a really neat rock and as we reached the top, we could see lake Brienz and lake Thunn stretching out on either side of Interlaken. We could also see the peak we had visited in the morning and were quite amazed that we could cover so much distance in only one day.
We then climbed down along the ridge for a ways before arriving in the flats with red blueberry bushes all around. If you continued on the ridge for about 6 hours, you could go all the way to First, near Grindelwald. We had decided earlier not to do the hike even though it sounded beautiful because we weren’t sure of walking at such an altitude for so long or how difficult the path was. We would have had enough daylight hours, but the last lift down was at 5:00 pm and at our picture taking rate we didn’t figure we would make it! It also would have meant not getting to go up to the Rothorn and we didn’t want to miss out on that experience. Instead we enjoyed our walk around the area and had plenty of time for photos. As we arrived back at the train station we noticed that they had added on an extra 5:00 train so we didn’t have to wait until 5:50 and we made much better connections on the way back to camp. At the bottom we swapped our shoes back and decided that though they were fairly comfy, our all-purpose walking shoes suited us fine for our purposes – plus they were so much lighter!
The forecast was for clouds and rain so we didn't bother setting an alarm and had a relaxing morning in camp. After lunch we rode in to town along a nice paved path beside the river, meandering through farms. We wandered through town and browsed the shops for postcards. Anoop has been on the hunt for new flip flops since he woke up one morning and discovered that one of them had been made off with in the night, never to be seen again.