Faulhorn walk: Schynige Platte to First
I got into Interlaken before 5pm and had time to check in to my hotel
and go for a walk around town. For dinner I had perch fillets with
vegetables and potatoes, from the Cafe du Paris. This was 26 francs,
but was the best meal of my trip so far, so that didn't seem too bad.
In Interlaken I stayed in the Hotel Rugenpark
), which was by far the nicest
of the three hotels I used on
this trip. It was the cheapest, it was clean and comfortable, and it
had the most reliable and fastest wireless Internet.
alpenglow on the Jungfrau, from my window
More importantly, it's run by a couple Chris and Ursula who were both
really friendly, though I talked the most to Ursula. When I arrived she
quickly worked out what I wanted to do (hiking, basically), and equipped
me with information for getting to and from the walks, advice on where
to get dinner, and even the times for the train to Lucerne when I left.
And I had a view of the Jungfrau out my window!
Sunday 8th August
A bus took me from Interlaken West to Wilderswil, from where a cog railway
runs up to Schynige Platte. There's a nice little Alpine Garden there,
but I didn't have time to look at that and really just walked through it.
I did do the detour over Oberberghorn, however.
The walk from Schynige Platte to First is recognised as one of the great
daywalks of the Swiss Alps. It starts with an ascent on a cog railway
and ends with a cable-car descent, so although it is almost entirely
above 2000 metres there's only about 800m of ascent and 700m of descent.
There's dramatic local scenery, with various peaks and lakes, and grand
views of the main range above to the south, with a row of peaks over
4000m including the Eiger, Monsch and Jungfrau, and of Interlaken below
to the south, with the lakes on either side.
There is one restaurant on the way, where I had vegetable soup and a
wurst with bread.
And then there's a restaurant/hotel "hut" on top of Faulhorn.
Otherwise there are few signs of civilization, with the only
road/cable/rail accesses at the ends of the walk. (There were quite a
lot of people on the walk, mostly Swiss away for the weekend judging by
the preponderance of "grützi" greetings.)
One highlight was getting to see a marmot up close. I got within two
metres of it without it getting very perturbed — hopefully because it
was at a salt lick or because it had got used to people, with a territory
was on top of a popular bit of the track near First, and not because
it was demented by bubonic plague! And there were some nice flowers,
though apparently June is the best time for those.
marmot at salt lick
what are you doing so close?
I also made friends with an American doing the same walk
— spending two days in Switzerland just to do it, actually —
who had the improbable name Heidi. She's a lecturer in theology at
Loyola, with a special interest in Rahner.
I had contemplated continuing the walk to Grosse Scheidegg, but it would
have been touch and go making the last bus from there. And when we got
to First there was pretty much a whiteout (though it was clearer on the
cable car on the way down).
The weather wasn't perfect, with some rain and long patches when the
clouds came in and everything was obscured, sometimes giving way to patches
and views. But, helped out by the marmot, this day still made the "top photo" day of my entire
Switzerland trip, just edging out the Grand Col Ferret day of the Tour du
(by 189 photos to 186).
Back in Interlaken, I had dinner with Heidi: I tried rösti and she
Swiss food is fine, but one needs to keep
a defibrillator handy — for use when all the saturated fats take their
toll, and for the shock when one checks one's bank account after a week
of eating out...
Chatting to Ursula later in the evening, it turned out she'd spent three
months in Sydney, in Manly (a vastly different environment to Interlaken).
We even discussed immigration, which is always a potentially dangerous
Next: Interlaken: Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg