Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Sunday stroll from Mülenen to Frutigen, the long way.

The original idea was to take advantage of the decent weather to climb the Niesen as a "getting in shape" (or, perhaps, "seeing how out of shape we are") thing. We're doing a different route from last time. The Andrea special starts more or less immediately after arriving at Mülenen: after walking past the station for the funicular, we start climbing through the trees. There's not much messing around here: it's just up, up, up on a nice path under the trees, with the occasional very nice view. Not a lot of people doing this, but most of those who are are dressed for trail running and they are passing us. This is clearly a popular training route. The notable exception is a very fit looking older guy who stays behind us for a bit before catching up. He complements us on the pace and then passes us and moves on.

At the middle station of the funicular, 1000 vertical meters later, we stop for a lunch break with a view; here we start seeing more people: taking the funicular this far and then walking the rest of the way to the top seems to be pretty popular. After restarting, we get above the trees pretty quickly and the views open up. The views are really excellent: over Interlaken and the ridge above the Brienzersee, the Alps (though somewhat obscured by clouds) including the Bluemlisalp group and a very nice view of the Tschingelhorn and Gamchilücke. Up, up, up we go. On this stretch there are plenty of people coming down from the top, but it still never gets super crowded. After a final push we make the top, get a table with a nice view, and order some cool drinks. It's taken us a total of about 3.5 hours to get up, including a lunch break of ~30min. Not bad. By pure coincidence we end up sitting at a table next to the older guy we talked to on the way up, who turns out to be a Bergführer (that explains why he looks so fit).
cool drinks at the top
nice view of Tschingelhorn and Gamchilücke
After the break we decide to walk at least part of the way down (otherwise we would end up violating the "more time hiking than on the train" rule), so we start down the route we came up last time. The weather seems reasonably stable and our legs are doing ok, so we continue on at the turnoff towards the funicular. After taking another food break we embark up on the last leg towards Frutigen. This is a quite nice, though pretty long, path that alternates between contouring along the mountainside and heading steeply down. We hit the valley floor outside of Frutigen with tired (and for Greg sore) knees and then take the cute path through the fields into town. Ten minutes of waiting later and we're on the train that starts us on our way home.

Numbers for the day: ~1700m up, ~1600 down, 19km and about 7 hours of walking total. It was a very nice day of hiking and we certainly earned the tired legs!

The track:

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