We came to Switzerland to hike. We are not super fit, but we have boots and lots of good ideas so it was going to epic, right? Well actually, yes, it was epic. That is the kind of place Switzerland is. The Swiss have, for centuries, been making the Alps accessible to normal people– and we are very normal. So our second stop on our Swiss adventure was the village of Kandersteg where we stayed at the International Scouting Center which rents out spare rooms in the dorms.
This was a fairly affordable option if you don’t mind being around teenagers. I mean they are so quiet in large groups. We had a private room with a shared bath and ate a basic breakfast in the mess hall. One benefit of staying here was discount gondola tickets! Gondolas are essential for ‘normal’ people to get up the Alps to a point where you can start hiking without miles of straight up before you get above the tree line and can see stuff. (stuff being ranges of mountain peaks) We chose the Gemmi Pass hike as our first Alpine assault.
For us, this started at the Sunnbuel Gondola a short walk from the Scout Center.
Upon arriving at the top of said gondola, we noticed a wee bit or dampness.
Actually it was bucketing. But we persevered! We wanted to get at least as far as the Hotel Schwarenbach, a isolated hotel in the middle of the pass. They had to have hot tea and a muffin at least!
The Hotel Schwarenbach looked quite intriguing. And while we stopped for a wee cup of tea, the rain stopped! We were feeling energized so we thought we would press on.
We came upon Daubensee Lake, a minty green glacial expanse.
At the end of the lake we finally came to the drop into Leukerbad. The clouds were misty and wafting up from the valley creating an eerie and isolated feel. There is the Wildstrubel Hotel here as well as a gondola station descending to Leukerbad which is quite a steep descent.
At this point we turned around, and the sun came out so it was like a completely different place on the return journey. Of course no hike in Switzerland would be complete without passing cows grazing peacefully in the high meadows, there bells gently clanging in song.
The sound of cheese being made in a high alpine meadow is enough to make one weep with joy!
Then we came upon a magical pond off a side trail that looked like it belonged in Narnia.
The sun was so wonderful as we walked through this paradise and we eventually came back to the Sunnbuel gondola station marking the end of our day’s epic alpine adventure.
Gemmi Pass hike: Plan on six hours round trip from the top of Sunnbuel gondola station to Leukerbad gondola station at the other end of the pass. (We dawdled a good bit!
Kandersteg Scout Camp stay: 35chf per adult per night. (plus 7chf/pp for breakfast) for a private double room with bath between 2 rooms. (rate: 1chf =+/- $1)
Gondola- Sunnbuel: 23chf adult return. (with camp discount)
BEST hiking website I found about Switzerland: Here