On Saturday we had our hottest walking day ever in Wengen, possibly anywhere. We went to Scheidegg via Mettlenalp and Biglenalp. From Scheidegg we took the granny path to Mannlichen, with a steady stream of grannies coming in the opposite direction. It was about a five hour trip, door to door, and when we made it home, it felt like we had been walking on Mars.
So, in a solo trip today, I headed for the shade of the Eiger trail. Tucked under the north face, it is an hour before the sun is on the path at all. Since the work on the new cable car station began a couple of years ago, the start of the path has been much lower, going through the Punch Bowl rather than along the scree slope at the base of the mountain. It is still an awe inspiring sight though.
The path does emerge into the sun finally and drops down through a rocky landscape to Alpiglen. By the small hotel above the railway station is a meadow, which I am sure must be the place Heinrich Harrer described in The White Spider, the camping ground where Fritz Kasparek and Harrer spent the night before their climb of the north face in 1938.
From Alpiglen, I took the big path back to Arven and from there headed to Mannlichen. My lunch stop was by a trough on the path to Mannlichen, just before the trees. As I ate, a rock slide came down the north face. It sounded like a snow avalanche, but was grey and left a pall of dust on the scree slope.
We had an excellent meal at the Caprice tonight; it seemed well earned.
We played tennis today. The only court available was at mid-day, under a clear blue sky and a burning sun, but we took it anyway. The village is busy still; it is another irony that in the year of little tourism, Wengen seems busier than ever. The package tourists of most summers, who journey up to the Jungfrau and the Schilthorn and hunker down in their hotels between times, are missing. Instead, the Swiss are enjoying their own country and filling the village, its bars and restaurants, the tennis courts and the mountain paths.
The weather has picked up dramatically since the beginning of the week and we have covered the highways and bye-ways. On Tuesday, when the poor weather lingered longer than forecast, we stopped for lunch at the Trummelbach falls cafe. Sandwiches around here tend to be ham, cheese, salami or a combination of the three, so the eclectic choice at the cafe always makes it a worthwhile halt. The best sandwiches in Switzerland we think.
Yesterday, in the afternoon, we were on the same path as had been my introduction to ski touring nearly five months earlier. There were no white hares in sight this time of course, but plenty of cows and still more battery powered mountain bikers.
Tomorrow is forecast to be hot again. It is also Saturday, so it might be standing room only all over the mountain.
The weather forecast was poor today. The MeteoSwiss rainfall bar chart suggested it would be raining cats and dogs for most of the time. Still though, at breakfast, it was fine, although grey and unpromising.
This morning was the first morning after last week’s fall on which I didn’t feel as if I had been run over by a steam roller, so despite the forecast, I headed out for a walk. Mrs IS, taking heed of the promised cats and dogs, stayed at home.
I took the cable car to Mannlichen, with few worries as to social distancing, and walked the longer route to Scheidegg, via the top of the Tschuggen lift and, what in winter, is the Arven red piste.
It did rain hard. There were a few other walkers around, but not many. The absence of tourists from the Far East meant Scheidegg was almost deserted. The Jungfraujoch train which came down the mountain just as I started for Wengenalp had ten passengers at the most.
It was one of those days when the rain seems to be layered, changing in intensity with altitude and the differing terrain. At the old cafe Oberland, it was more or less solid and it seemed as though I could swim home from there.
We played tennis this morning and even at 10.00am, it was hot. After that, we met up with friends for a quick cup of coffee, enjoyed the air conditioning at the Co-op briefly and staggered home in the mid-day heat.
In the afternoon, it was nearly 35 degrees in the shade on our balcony. We checked the temperature in Cyprus and it was warmer here than on an island not far from the Middle East.
Tomorrow, 1 August, is Swiss National Day, the anniversary of the Federal Charter. This evening, the flags were out in the village already and a steady stream of weekenders decanted themselves from the trains.
It is forecast to be hot again and Wengen will be busy it seems. A walk is planned, but I am still suffering the after effects of last week’s fall. Tennis is fine and uphill is okay, but downhill is a struggle. I might be a quiet day, for the Idle Skier at least.
We passed through Gimmelwald early this afternoon. We walk through this hamlet below Murren a couple of times each summer. Usually, when we do so, we see three or four people. Today it was a metropolis, with people on all the paths and mountain bikes passing us every couple of minutes. The Swiss are still on holiday and, as for the number of bikes, battery power has made all the difference.
We made a circuit of the Lauterbrunnen valley, walking down to Lauterbrunnen then on to Grutschalp (via the cable car), along to Murren, down to Stechelberg and back to Lauterbrunnen where we took the train to the village.
We have done some walking and played tennis in the last few days, but this was our first major jaunt since I tried last week to take the quick route (straight down) to Zweilutschinen. I must have done more damage than I thought on that diversion as today my back and knees ached all the way from Murren to the valley.
This evening, an ice pack, pain killers and red wine seem to have made all the difference. Tomorrow, we have a tennis court booked. I might be creaking around the court a little.
Last night, shortly after I closed down the lap top, the thunder returned with a vengeance. The whole chalet shook for a while, the floor plates reverberating in time with the violent weather.
Still, this morning was bright and sunny. Our plan for the day was to walk to Interlaken and back again, as some training for our 50 kilometre hike in September. That is an event which has not been cancelled yet, so we are hoping for the best.
It was another night of disrupted sleep though and our planned early start ended up as a 9.45am kick off. We headed down the path to Lauterbrunnen and just before the two remote chalets on that path, we diverted onto the steep route to Zweilutschinen.
The morning went awry then. I stepped on to a manhole cover, which gave way promptly, turning on its axis and sending me into the drop below. The fall was halted by my outstretched arms, but I was still almost below ground level. Underneath me, a small mountain stream was running quickly.
I managed to climb out and a brief damage assessment revealed only a swollen elbow, so we carried on. We were a long way behind schedule though and it looked like a late finish, so we called a halt in Interlaken, did some shopping at the Co-op and took the train home.
We were back in the chalet by 4.30pm, where a further inspection revealed some additional bumps and scrapes. I headed for the shower, where I stayed well clear of the plug hole.
Tomorrow is a tennis day, assuming I can move in the morning.
It has been warm, very warm, since we arrived in Wengen on Friday, but for the last couple of days we have had thunderstorms as well. Last night, the lightening crackled around the valley and woke us in the early hours.
Today, we planned to play tennis in the morning, but the overnight rain had left the courts with some deep and wide puddles. We beat a retreat homewards, just missing more rain. The sun came out though and we managed our game in the early afternoon. Shortly after we finished, the bad weather returned. This evening, the thunder is rumbling and the rain has been intense.
It is almost dark now. It is fine at the moment, but the clouds are threatening. Tomorrow promises more of the same.
Today was a crowded day for the Lauterbrunnen valley. It might have been the busiest summer day we have seen in thirty years of visiting the area.
Yesterday, we played tennis in the morning but, otherwise, we were grounded by four months accumulation of domestic tasks. This morning, we were away for a fairly early start on the path to Lauterbrunnen and then on to Stechelberg, making the hotel at the end of the village our turn around point.
The car parks along the way were all packed and at the camping sites, there was not a spare pitch to be had. We stopped briefly at the cable car station; the queue to the entrance was fifty metres long. We assumed this was for social distancing on the cable car, but as one car went overhead, it seemed full completely.
The world and his wife seemed to be in the valley. Well, not quite the world, as the car registrations showed most visitors to be Swiss, with German, Dutch and a few French number plates making up the numbers.
We headed back along the valley in the early afternoon. After a brief pit stop in Lauterbrunnen, we took the path to Wengen for a six hour round trip. Back in the village, it seemed quiet. The valley, so dark and cold in winter, comes into its own in the summer months. Surprisingly, this year seems to be no different.
We have made it back to the mountains, 116 days after we left. it is good to be here, even though it is a grey old night and the rain is falling
On the Sunday in March we spent travelling to Zurich for our return to London, we saw perhaps fifty people in total. Today seemed a normal day. True, the plane from Heathrow was only two thirds full and the arrivals hall at Zurich had far more luggage trollies than passengers, but the trains were busy and Wengen bustling when we arrived in the mid-afternoon.
It promises to be a sunny day tomorrow and busy as well. It is holiday time here and people are spending their days close to home. It might be time to hit the hay now. With an early check in required at Heathrow, we have been on the go for nearly seventeen hours. We have also a tennis court booked for the morning.
The rules for England’s lockdown changed yesterday, so we were able to escape Putney for the first time since, well, before we can remember, or so it seems.
In the last hundred days or so we have done not very much at all; some tennis, some golf (me anyway), some runs and walks. In the last week or so we have met up with friends in “socially distanced” gardens.
On Saturday morning, we were on the motorway when dawn broke. The roads were packed later in the day by all accounts, with as many as a third of all cars in the country out and about, but England was still sleeping during our journey. We were in the North by mid-morning; as we crossed into Lancashire the rain lashed down on the M6. Plus ca change, as they say here in Morecambe Bay.
Today the sun shone, it rained as well and the wind blew nicely. All in all, a typical day on the Lancashire coast. We are back in London in a day or so, but the government has given us further freedoms. What next I wonder?