Altitude Flowers, Spectacular Views and Knocking Knees

Altitude Flowers, Spectacular Views and Knocking Knees

Schmocken, Beatenberg, Niederhorn

Location – Switzerland

I opened the outside blinds that cover the room windows this morning and learned that the Interlaken weather Gods had received our message. The clouds had lifted and we had a spectacular view of the Eiger mountain face and some of the other “Top Of Europe” mountain peaks. It was going to be another good day here in Switzerland.

Despite making the most of the very comfortable bedding we did manage to extract ourselves from under the doona (duvet) around 8.30am and prepare for the day’s activities. I even managed to have a shave before venturing down to breakfast!

This morning’s window view was very special given that the clouds had lifted over the Alps. We enjoyed the view and the substantial breakfast we managed to consume – not a bad thing given that we were not going to have lunch today (of course we didn’t know it whilst sitting at breakfast).

We departed the hotel around 10.30am and covered the short walk to the Niederhorn cable car terminus in around 8 minutes. Hotel Gloria is so very well placed here in Beatenburg.

The weather continued to improve as the morning passed and by the time we arrived at the cable car terminal the day was shaping up nicely.

See You Thun

Our accommodation in Beatenburg came with a voucher that gave us 15% discount on the cable car trip so our one way trip to the top of the mountain was quite cheap.

Being a Sunday meant that the cable cars were running quite regularly so it wasn’t long before we were boarding the gondola and heading up the steep mountain cable car track.

The view from the very smooth gondola improved with each passing cable car tower and we both enjoyed the spectacular scenery that opened up below us.

We reached the top of Niederhorn in around 12 minutes and exited the gondola to a cool but sunny day. The gentle breeze and relatively thin mountain air were the reason we packed our warm weather gear for today’s outdoor activities.

Despite it being a Sunday, the number of people on the mountain was low so we did not have to compete for viewing space at any stage. Indeed, there would have to be a very large number of people on the mountain to stop one achieving time to take a very good look at the spectacular 360 degree views that are on offer from Niederhorn.

We took our time to walk around the area near the cable car terminus and we enjoyed the wonderful views on offer. The sun continued to warm the mountains and this mean that the cloud base continued to rise. More and more of the alps began to reveal themselves as the morning turned into afternoon and we enjoyed capturing the sights on offer.

From Niederhorn you take in 360 degree views for miles around. Views of lakes, mountains, valleys and distance towns are available from this 6000′ plus mountain top and all of the sights are spectacular.

All Paths Lead To?

In winter Niederhorn is a ski paradise. In summer it is a hiker and paraglider paradise. Indeed, it seemed that for every hiker on the mountain there was a least one or more paragliders. The Princess and I enjoyed spending time watching the paragliding fanatics prepare their rigs, don their warm flight suits and helmets and then negotiate the fickle winds before launching themselves off the slopes of Niederhorn.

We didn’t count the number of paragliders in the air over the Interlaken region but, suffice to say, there were dozens of them. The brightly colored wings stood out against the white snowcapped mountains and green forests and filled the sky like prehistoric flocks of birds soaring above some prey below.

We opted to hike back down to Schmocken so, after spending time near the summit of Niederhorn we made our way along the well trodden hiking paths to the village way below.

Our progress was slow because we couldn’t take more than a few steps before stopping to photograph another beautiful scene or some beautiful spring wildflowers that were blooming on the exposed parts of the mountain.

We were also fortunate to see some of the mountain’s wild goats albeit that they were not too keen to stick around for photos.

The number of hikers crossing the mountain’s hiking paths thinned out as we moved further down the mountain – all of them taking one of many different routes that are available on the mountain. Young and old alike venture out here in Switzerland and make the most of the excellent hiking available here. Some people are in a hurry and some, like us are just taking in the many distant views and natural beauty on offer.

Our trip back down the mountain took around 5 hours (from the time we left the cable car terminus area) and the “quoted ” time is around 2 hours 30 minutes. However, we were not in a hurry and the sun doesn’t set here until around 9.00pm at this time of the year.

On our way back down we passed by a farm house and spent time talking with the manager of the small but productive farm. He was managing the farm on behalf of a large Swiss co-op and he was happy to answer the many questions we had for him. This “large” farm (with about 30 head of dairy cows and 12 pigs) produced cream, milk, cheese and ham for Alp. It seems that 30 head of dairy cows in these parts is a substantial farm indeed.

As we descended the mountain the tree line was obvious and we left the wide open grass fields and prolific wildflowers and entered into darker pine forests with lush undergrowth.

The hiking paths we took crossed wet open areas before re-entering small forests and they also meandered around steep drop offs and under towering overhangs. Very spectacular.

Despite having a map, the signs on the trail didn’t really indicate that we were heading in the right direction but we were content with enjoying the beautiful views that were offered from our high vantage point.

We eventually left the higher areas of the wooded landscape and descended toward one of the many villages located below us.

Our knees were not happy with us as we made our way down into one of the villages. Indeed, if we had to hike downhill for much longer we would have had to have made a stop and give the knees a break.

Around 5.15pm we arrived in one of the small villages in the Beatenberg area (so small that we couldn’t find it on a map) and went in search of a bus stop. The buses here run every hour and, as it turned out, the next one was due through this town around 5.29pm.

Delicate Mountain Dwellers

Like a Swiss watch, the bus rolled into town and stopped to pick us up. Our accommodation voucher allows us to travel for free on the buses in the Beatenburg area so, on boarding, we showed the friendly driver our voucher and took our first comfortable seat since dining at breakfast! Our knees, backs and bums were very thankful indeed.

The bus stopped a few meters from Hotel Gloria so after a short walk we were back “home” and ready for a late afternoon treat. We did not eat lunch however we did have a banana and some trail mix – not bad going for over 5 hours of hiking.

The friendly staff at Gloria welcomed us when we walked through the door and were happy to serve us a nice hot latte and a delightful plum and apple slice. Like all the food here at Gloria, the slice was excellent.

We drank our coffee outside on the balcony overlooking the alps – a nice way to finish our day of outdoor activity here in the Jungfrau area.

When we returned to the room I ran The Princess a warm bubble bath and she happily lowered herself into the deep bathtub. Indeed, as I took some time to update our website, I didn’t hear a sound from her from around 20 minutes. She definitely enjoyed relaxing after the long day of hiking.

When The Princess had had her fill of relaxing I too spent time giving my muscles a treat in the warm water.

We made an 8.00pm reservation in the restaurant for dinner so after our long baths we changed into some non-hiking gear and made our way down for another sumptuous feed. The Princess dined on a beautifully prepared piece of salmon and I rapidly downed a lovely Thai green curry. Despite not having lunch we could not finish the ample meals that Bernhard and his team prepared for us.

Bernhard came out of the kitchen and spent time talking to us about our day and giving us some more tips on other attractions in and around Interlaken. Indeed, tomorrow (our last day here) we will follow Bernhard’s suggestion of taking a paddle steamer trip on the lake and visit an beautiful old hotel that is located near a waterfall. We will let you know how it goes in tomorrow’s blog.

Until tomorrow – Ciao!

Reclining Beauty
Cheese Protector
Minimal Fencing
Mountain Smiles
Winging Above The Eiger
Tread Carefully

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