Here are the final few pictures from Gimmelwald, just some pictures of scenery and buildings from around the village. Worth noting, the one sort of large building pictured is the town’s school house where they teach all grades (and teach them three languages while in the process). This was one of my favourite stops of the trip, really different from any other place I stayed in many respects. It was the most secluded place I stayed, had the fewest tourists, the quietest, the freshest air and cleanest water. Basically it was the place where the state of the natural environment has been the most preserved, a challenge given the population of central Europe. I think it is taken for granted how much easier it is to find untouched nature in Canada, as even in the Swiss Alps, it seems much harder to find places out of reach of development or cultivation.
Murren is the village next to Gimmelwald and is known for a few reasons. First, like Gimmelwald, it is close to the Schilthorn. Second, at 1650m it is the highest permanently inhabited village in the canton of Bern. And last, it hosts the “International Inferno Race” which at 15.8 km is the longest as well as largest amateur ski race in the world. Like Gimmelwald, there are no public roads accessing it so you have to take a cable car or walk up. The walk from Gimmelwald to Murren takes about a half hour on a paved walking path, so while not really hiking it still offers great views of the valley. I had to go to Murren to get some groceries so I took these pictures. With 45o people, Murren is larger than Gimmelwald (pop. 140) and has more amenities such as a grocery store, sports store, souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels. They also have cool fire hydrants.
Here’s a few more pictures from the Gimmelwald. These pictures are from another hike a went on, this one was about half the time of the other one and only went up to 1631 metres and was point-to-point as opposed to a loop. Where it does take you though is to the head of the river that runs through the valley. The river head, called the Chilchbalm is a large bowl at the end of the valley where much of the melt water from the surrounding mountains converges. All the pictures in this post, with the exception of the waterfall close-up which is from the beginning of the trail, are from around the Chilchbalm at the end of the trail. It was a different sort of scenery being at the bottom of the valley as opposed to up high. It doesn’t quite have the same panoramic views looking down at the valley, but I thought it was just a pleasing to be in the forested valley looking up at the surrounding peaks. And the same peaceful (near) solitude was there to be enjoyed.
I still have a bunch of pictures from Gimmelwald that I want to put up so I will be uploading them as part of a few different posts. The first post will be pictures from my hike to the base of the Schilthorn. The Schilthorn is probably most famous for the revolving restaurant on top which was featured in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I didn’t go all the way up the Schilthorn as the snow made the trail impassable, the cable car to get there was running but it didn’t seem worth it if I couldn’t hike up. Where my hike did take me was from Gimmelwald, elevation 1303m, to the Rotstockhutte (a restaurant that operates in the summer) at about 2040m. The scenery throughout the hike was beautiful, the mountain air was cool and fresh, and there were few sounds aside from the rumble of avalanches up on the peaks. The downside however was, after just over two hours of hiking I arrived at the Rotsockhutte only to open my bag and realize I had forgotten the lunch I made in the hostel kitchen, which means I had to hike over two hours back on an empty stomach which made me want to rush back a little more and enjoy my surroundings less. I wasn’t alone in this however as just as I went to head back two fellow hikers that were staying at the hostel arrived, expecting to find an open restaurant. They too had to head back on empty stomachs. The recent snow also made the hike back (the route was a loop, not point-to-point) quite wet and slippery, and canvas Vans with wore out soles are not the best footwear for snow and mud. Eventually I made it back though and enjoyed my lunch on the hostel’s patio overlooking the valley. In the end though it was definitely worth it, I enjoyed the being more or less alone in nature (I only saw two people in the four hours), the views, the mountain air, and being active in the outdoors. All the pictures in this post are from the hike I just described, they show the surrounding mountains (look for some small avalanches), the Rotstockhutte, and Gimmelwald as seen from the trail.
I stayed in a small village in the Swiss Alps called Gimmelwald for a few nights, and thought I would make a post about the houses of the village that are typical of the traditional style of the area. Here are some general tidbits about what you are looking at:
-The picture of the building with the picnic tables out front is the hostel I stayed at, which was once a family home. You can also see pictured the sign outside the hostel that gives you some info on it. This place had possibly the best atmosphere of any hostel I stayed (in literal terms too, the air is really fresh up in those mountains). Everyone who stayed there is generally looking for something similar in coming there and so got along really well. Most people are gone during the day but the place fills up at night, there being nowhere else to go in town, and talks about their hike that day as well as swapping travel stories. It was also the only restaurant and bar open that time of year, the only other not opening until June, and so many locals come there to hang out as well. It gives you the feeling of being a lot more connected to the place you are in to be sharing the space with local people. As well, the hostel staff were a mix of both people from the area and internationals. Every hostel has it’s positives and negative though, and the downsides of this place were that you had to pay for showers, the rooms fit a lot of people into a small space, and there was a guy snoring incredibly loudly every night I was there.
-Many homes of the traditional style will have the family name above the door, and/or a good luck saying.
-Many of the homes are split down the middle, being shared between two families.
-A number of homes in town have small shops selling souvenirs, alpine cheese, or eggs on the ground floor. One of which is the honesty shop. The door to this store is just open, and there is no one there. Everything has a price on it and when you take something, you are asked to put your money in one of the envelopes provided, and write on it what you took and the price. Another shop that was in a family home asked you to ring the doorbell, and the owner would come down and let you into the store.
Overall this was one of my favourite stops of the trip so there will be more pictures to come from my time there.