Saturday, May 31, 2014

Along the Schrattenflue

The forecast was good, so we set out to do a hike from the Entlebuch "interesting hikes" book ("Entlebuch-Emmental Zwischen Pilatus, Napf und Sigriswiler Rothorn" from the SAC).

Starting just outside of Flühli we follow the river for a bit (no Andrea's Special today) before passing through Torbach and starting to climb. We're under clouds/in fog, so views aren't really there, but at least it's nice and cool. Up, up we go, at times through woods, at times across fields, at times on forest roads. The footing is alternately fine and pretty muddy. As we go higher we get more and more into the cloud, which lends a spooky, fantastic character to some of the fields we cross. This isn't a heavily used path: a lot of the time we're just following the markers or, at best, traces of a path. Very nice. After passing Ämmetal thing start to get pretty steep and direttissima as we do the last 350m or so vertical meters up to the Ober Gummenegg. At the pass we come out into the sun (the ridge is stopping the clouds) and enjoy a very nice view down the Mariental, across to the Brienzergrat, and past that to the big peaks of the Berner Oberland. Here we also see our first other hiker, who's come up the other way.
Ober Gummenegg pass with Strick
After taking a few pictures we set off along the ridge. At the bottom of the cliffs heading up to the Strick we turn off onto the blue-white marked path (we must look unstable or something, the guy in front of us asks me "are you sure-footed?"), head around the cliff a bit, and then steeply up, with a bit of scrambling, to the peak of the Strick. We enjoy a sandwich break while taking in the views before continuing on. Here we move into the T5/unmarked route part of the hike and it gets a bit interesting/irritating. According to our reading of the book, we're supposed to follow traces of a path down through a couloir to the southwest of the peak. The only up around the peak we can find that even begins to meet the description is very steep and seems to end in air (tough to say due to the clouds). We aren't going that way. Fortunately Andrea has read some Hikr reports that provide alternate directions to the couloir. We look around a bit, find the place we want, and head on. After a big of very nice ridge walking we rejoin the path at Heftibode. Further along the ridge, past the Heftihütte, along the nice path under the cliff we go before turning off the path and heading up to the ridge again. This is some very, very nice walking: it's all limestone pavement ("Karren") with a steep drop off the right.
Along the ridge to the Heftibode
After a bit, crossing some snow fields, and some good scrambling (the last bit does require hands), we get to the Hächle, where we stop for another break and appreciate the views. If there were no clouds, this would be a great place to do an Alp panorama. As it is, we enjoy what's there before continuing along the ridge, hitting a marked trail at the Tierweid, down to the saddle at p1934, then turning back towards the valley at the Heideloch.
hands required to get to the Hächle
We contemplate continuing along the path along the ridge, but there's a fair bit of snow, it's no longer early, and our legs are letting us know that we've already done something, so it's down we go. The path down is really quite nice, at first lots of snow and rock (including some more great Karren), then more meadow, down, down, down, then trees, down, down further, and then we're in the valley floor. We've time it well, so we only need to wait 15 minutes for the bus that starts us back towards home.
limestone "Karren"
It was a great walk and it wouldn't be bad to do at least parts of again when then views are somewhat better.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Climbing at Baerenfells

The forecast is dodgy, but the morning/early afternoon should at least be ok, so we set off to do some climbing at the Bärenfels. We both do Penny Lane (Greg does it twice) and Beta (with the nice chimney) and Andrea does Dornröschen and Verborgener Traum.

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:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Family Visit in Boston: May 14-18

Wednesday, May 14:
Greg has dinner with Gary and Sally at No.9, Andrea arrives late and crashes at the hotel

Thursday, May 15:
Greg has to work, Andrea spends the day shopping and wandering around Boston;
we meet up later for a joint family dinner at East Coast Grill with Gary and Sally, Jim and Kay, Greg and Andrea and stroll through Cambridge with Gary and Sally afterwards to finish the night with drinks at Catalyst on Tech Square

Friday, May 16:
Greg has to work, Andrea has a lazy morning, then moves bags to Gary and Sally’s Hotel in Downtown Boston, strolls with Gary and Sally and Jim and Kay and Grant through town; we all meet up with Greg at Kristens in the afternoon and go to watch the Red Socks in the rain at night.

Saturday, May 17:
Lazy morning at Kristen’s, walk through South Boston to the beach, Head Island, Castle Island and back with Kristen and Grant and Kay and Greg and Andrea; hang out at Kristen’s for the rest of the day

Sunday, May 18:
Late brunch with the bunch, Greg and Andrea have a stroll through trendy SoWa and Shawmut areas, back to hang out at Kristen’s, drinks and pizza-dinner before Greg and Andrea head to the airport for the flight back