Cities / Towns Visited: 22
Countries Visited: 8
Steps Taken Today: 22,027
Steps Taken Around the World: 939,064
After rising from our joyful slumber, and indulging in another sumptuous breakfast, we checked out of our temporary home, set aside our bags and headed out the door. We would be heading to Lucerne in the afternoon, but for now we still had one thing to accomplish on this mountain; we were going to hike a circuit from Mürren to Gimmelwald and back. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the air was cool; in short, it was a perfect day for a foray into nature.
We set off, passing the cable car station, heading up the hill and out towards Gimmelwald. The path was well signed and before long we had passed over the hill, and were heading towards the pine forest. As we walked, we saw a few lucky people heading off on tandem paragliding adventures, and as they drifted silently overhead, we somewhat jealously admired them. If only everything wasn’t quite so costly, we too would be soaring over the valley. Pulling ourselves back to reality, and smartly realising that what we were doing would be the cause of envy to many, we happily trotted off once more.
Ducking into the cool shade of the forest, we meandered contently, drinking in the fresh alpine air, and gleefully watching the cool mountain streams babbling down the slopes; cutting a jagged path between the trees. It was tranquil, and although the way was occasionally steep, the path was smooth and safe. We eventually popped out the other side into an open field, dotted with wooden cabins; some sheds, some alpine homes; patches of snow dappled the ground, while wildflowers sprung up from the fresh spring grass. We momentarily lost sight of our path, but trusting in the footprints in the snow we were quickly reunited with the signature yellow signs marking the way.
After another stint through forests, we were spat back out into open field beside a large gushing river; its icy cold water filling the air with its thunderous descent from the peaks. Our trusted signs directed us across a small bridge which spanned the waterway, the only problem was that on the other side there was significantly more snow. By more, I of course mean that all of the visible ground was covered by a solid 3 feet or so. Whether out of stubbornness, a sense of adventure, or the intense need to complete the task at hand rather than retreat, we pushed on. There was a single set of footprints already imprinted before us, so we were either going to get through this, or stumble upon a body; what could possibly go wrong, right? There was another wooden hut just a hundred or so metres away, although it wasn’t occupied currently for obvious reasons, along with another signpost. We figured we would just attempt to reach that, then go from there. After finally making it, we skirted around and spotted the next signpost, but it was unclear where this path was supposed to cross the river once more, as was shown on the small hiking trail map we’d taken with us. With a growing sense of uncertainty (or possibly just the arrival of some form of common sense) I began to wonder if perhaps we should just call it a day and head back. Of course the completionist in me disagreed, as did my partner, and thus he decided to trek through the next section of snow to the crest before us to see if he could see a way down; no point in us both filling our shoes with snow if there was no way through. However, as he disappeared briefly over the crest, and the small anxiety filled version of me in my head started figuring out how I was going to tell his family that he’d died because in some ridiculous snow based hiking accident. Eventually, he popped his head back up though, and waved me over.
Trekking, quite literally, in his footsteps, whilst still managing to get more snow in my shoes than I’d prefer, a joined him just over the hill. From here we could see the small bridge crossing back to the snowless, but forested, bank opposite. The only problem was that we had to fumble our way down a steep embankment through an unknown depth of snow. My partner once again took the lead. Following the phantom footsteps which had at some point proceeded us, and the fact that they seemingly successfully reached the bridge, we carried on. It was tough going, and at one point my partner’s foot slipped through a hollow caused by melting snow. He managed to recover though, and we went forth, reaching a rotting tree stump, and using its roots for some kind of stability, managing to reach the rivers edge with only a handful of stomach in throat moments as a foot here and there sunk deeper than we would have liked into the snow. We’d done it though, we’d made it back to solid ground, and we took this moment of relief to sit on the bridge (read that as four semi-sturdy planks of wood), and drank in both the sense of achievement, and the beautiful surroundings.
The rest of the trek toward Gimmelwald went on without any drama, and we finally emerged from the forest to a field that looked down over the town below. We had originally planned on visiting the town before heading back to Mürren, but as the going was steep, and realising that we would have to hike that distance back up again (along with the fact that out snow trekking had cost us an extra half an hour or so of time), we decided to just follow the path we were on and head back to town; besides we still had the two cable cars, bus, and two train combo to get to our next destination still to complete for the day.
After following the signs for Mürren, but seemingly not following the path marked on our map, which seemed to not exist (causing a brief stint of panic), we managed to reach the paved road that heads back up the mountain to the cable car station. It was steep, and by the time we reached the top, we were well and truly knackered. My FitBit insisted on telling me we had done the equivalent of 121 flights of stairs, and my thighs were fervently in agreement with that sentiment. We decided it was only fitting to reward ourselves with lemon icy poles before quickly retrieving our luggage from the hotel and commencing our forward journey.
After a couple of hours travelling, we finally arrived in Lucerne. We settled on just grabbing some burgers for dinner from a place near the station, which actually ended up being pretty good, and on the conclusion of much needed showering we nestled in for a well deserved sleep. As my muscles relaxed, I took a moment to consider the excitement of the day. Life can never be experienced properly from the safety bubble of your comfort zone. True human growth occurs in the times when we step outside of this and challenge ourselves; challenge our beliefs; challenge our knowledge; challenge our abilities. This is why I believe everyone should travel; go to the places where you don’t speak the language, immerse yourself in cultures unlike your own, and let it all improve you as a person. You should do things that scare you because they force you to develop; they make you stronger and wiser. With all of that said and done, it is best to not do this to the point of recklessness. My generation seems to love to live in the world of ‘YOLO’, but to be honest I think sometimes they miss the gravity of that sentiment. Yes, you do only live once, but you know what, you live a hell of a lot longer if you don’t do stupid things. Should we have trekked off into clearly unopen hiking trail, through unmeasurable depths of snow, no probably not (and I’m sure if we’d been injured our travel insurance would have agreed with that assumption), but on our journey we took each step with care. We tested our footing before placing all of our weight on it; we used some measure of common sense to assess where would and would not be wise to venture. Should you do things that scare you and push the boundaries, of course; but take care when you do it.