Sisters in Switzerland - The big hike: Chilchbaum and beyond

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October 24th 2019
Published: November 6th 2019
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Hiking was one of the goals of this trip and this was our planned day for a bit longer of a hike, up higher in the mountains above Grindelwald. Initially, we planned a hike to an area in the glacial valley called Chilchbaum, which was supposed to be about 4.5 miles round trip. Then maybe a smaller hike later nearby. So, we packed our stuff for the day, including thermals beneath our clothes and Dana made and packed us a lunch of hard boiled eggs, cheese, jerky, and leftover vegetables.


We made our way to the edge of Gimmelwald and along a trail to the valley, south and then west of town. The hike was relatively easy, mostly along a road during the early parts. Then we started to gradually climb uphill, along a swift moving stream. The trail eventually came to an open field where it seemed they grazed cattle and horses during the warmer months, but it was empty now. Then the trail became a path way, some of which including climbing over rocks and boulders. We took a couple of breaks and enjoyed the scenery. It was not really cold, but cool and damp, but no real rain. We came to a part where we crossed a bridge over the stream, and could see the previous bridge had failed as its pieces were sitting just up- and down-stream.

We came out into an open field at the base of the mountains, surrounded on three sides. A larger stream was just to the south of us, full of cool, clear, glacial waters. So, we chose this spot to enjoy our lunch and refill our water bottles. The water froze my hand, and we were a bit nervous about drinking it, but it turned out to be a blessing for round 2, and actually quite good. While we had rested a bit on the way up, it was still only noon and felt we could do more. Dana suggested going "up just a little" back where there had been a fork in the path. Her reasoning was that we would have to hike uphill on the last leg if we just went back the way we came. This way, we could get the uphill hiking done first and just have to come down hill. We thought may 7 miles total hike for the day. Ok...

The Climb

So, we walked back and started up the steep slope, which had lots of switchbacks. I think we took two breaks in the first 20 minutes. It was very steep to start! Soon, after another couple of minor pauses, we found our way in a clearing with an empty barn and a tiny stream running through. It was beautiful. But it was still uphill. For the next couple of hours, all uphill. Through forests. Through empty grazing lands. My sister asked me if I hated her; I avoided answering.... Gradually, we soon came to another fork, one path leading to a restaurant or hotel we could see in the distance, Rotstockh├╝tte, uphill of course. We also noted a house in the hills nearby, thinking who would ever want to live this high?? So, we went the other way, towards Gimmelwald. At some point, when we looked back, we could see the house we thought was so high - below us!

Eventually we came to what seemed to be a supply / storage station, where cable cars obviously came for deliveries, for there and for the hotel we saw. We had a nice rest at a picnic table here, then kept moving. Here is where it finally started to flatten out! The only problem, was this seemed to be where the water table also flattened out, so there were a lot of muddy areas that we had slosh through. But we were so happy to not be moving straight up anymore after hours having done so. I think it must have been around 3 or later at this point and we knew we would be racing daylight. Still, we were in good spirits at this point. As they say - it's all down hill from here! :p Also, across the valley we could see a building we had noted previously as being super high up... was now quite below us!

We continued on a relatively flat path along a very steep slope for about a mile or two at a pretty good pace. Soon, we got to a cliff drop that we had to scramble down. We could see civilization below us and, even further below, Gimmelwald! The end is near! It was about 4pm or so at this point and we started to walk down the rocks. This part, for some reason, I was ok. I think I was mostly just excited to see the end. We scrambled down for about a half hour then came to another fork and headed towards a farm house and through the forest. The forest was nice, with a set and heavily used path, though it was incredibly steep. This part hurt my knees. I had to sit twice. Why this and not the rock scramble bothered me, not sure, but it still was not nearly as bad as I have experienced in the past, so with a few minutes' rest here and there, it was fine. I told my sister my hatred towards her was lessening and my love was growing with each step towards Gimmelwald!

We broke through the trees to a beautiful view. But we were not through yet. There were still multiple downhill sections to walk. The first was down the grassy slope here, on switchbacks, to the road below. At the road, there was conveniently a bench, so we took a rest, and watched a paraglider skim the slope in front of us with a friendly hello. We thought he might be landing, but he kept right on going, just showing off his skills. There were so many paragliders here the whole time it was hilarious. I was oh so tempted...

The next section was another grassy slope with switchbacks. I got a lovely gift as a very large cat came bounding past me, stopped in front of me with a mouse in its jaws. I knew it was a gift, but the mouse was still alive and so I ran down as it started to eat. Lindsey, aka cat lover, came to check out the scene and updated us with the lovely words of "wow, he bit its face off!" Ugh. Got to the road at the end of this section, where there was conveniently a cooler in front of a barn, which had lots of cheeses. We put money in the honesty box and took a block of cheese for later. The final section was following the road through the village and finally, finally!, to our cabin.

We were exhausted and sore, but not nearly as bad as we thought we would be after hiking 10 miles! I put the chillin on to warm up for dinner, we all changed into warm, dry clothes, did some stretches, and
The Hike - steep descentThe Hike - steep descentThe Hike - steep descent

Gimmelwald in the bottom right
settled down for wine, our honestly bought cheese (which was delicious) and James Bond for the night.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


10th November 2019
The Hike - the start

Looks like a beautiful hike. Glad you are having some good sister time.

Tot: 0.071s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 16; qc: 29; dbt: 0.011s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb