“Not all that wander are lost.”
The German term for the word Hiker is Wanderer, the word itself indicates the spirit of a hiker. I am hardly an expert at hiking, in fact I am a lazy person who prefers comfort over most other worldly things. However, the past few weeks have been exciting, and testing for me.
The story behind such testing times were two hikes taken at Uetliberg and yesterday at Wengen.
Uetliberg is a hill near Zurich, at the height of around 873m. It is known for its panoramic view of the city and the Alps beyond. It also had a set of hiking trails marked for people to move to surrounding hills and the town below. Uetliberg is a hit between people of all ages and normally has a big crowd of the Swiss folk attempting a hike. In fact, I notice that the Swiss are big fans of hiking, skiing and all sorts of physically intensive activities, there is always someone running even in the middle of extremely cold and windy weather. Their dedication to frequent physical activity makes me nervous and jealous.
Anyways, back to Uetliberg, so it was a windy and rainy day, which made sure that the little crowd was even lesser. We went up by a train and decided to follow the 6 km planet walk, with marked paths leading to Felsengg. The walk was fun, it started to rain and in came the hale, yet we moved ahead enjoying the weather and admiring the yellow colored wild flowers on the meadows. Then came a junction, with the marked road leading right and a sign for teahaus leading left. That was the moment when the phrase, ‘I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference’ came to my mind. Thus we went left, stepping on a makeshift staircase and managed to discover this small, but wonderful hut offering us tea, warm orange punch, and pinapple juice. After a short stopover in this surprisingly good and hidden cabin, we decided to go further downhill. On this path the markers were missing but the area did seem to have a few marks of previous hikers. For a while everything was good, we also found steps to go down. After a while it got tricky, due to the wet weather, the fallen leaves with the water formed an amazing slippery combination. Confused and with no guidance we kept moving ahead, thankfully at some point a couple going uphill told us the way to the bottom. What they did not tell was that it was going to be really slippery, we did manage to rejoin the hiking trail after a few tricky moments and were soon back in the meadows at the bottom of the hill. A few minutes walk to the next bus stop brought us back into the city and thus the journey was over. The legs ached the next day, but thats another story…
Last week on Labor day, we visited Jungfraujoch. The weather had taken a wild turn and it was snowing as if there was a blizzard. We decided to cut our stay short on the top and return downwards by train, midway through the journey we got down at Wengen, a tiny and beautiful station which we had seen on our journey upwards. The thrill of getting down at a place which one has no prior idea about was enticing enough. Wengen is one of the venues for the Skiing world cup, it is a small village with a native population of around 1300 people. The place is also famous for its wooden chalets at the height of around 4100 feet. We discovered the possibility of a hike while sitting in a coffee shop and talking to the waiteress. She told us to follow the yellow signs to Staubbachbänkli; out of the cafe we looked at our watches. We had to take the 7.03 PM train to Lauterbrunnen, and it was 5.25 PM.
The markers on the road read 25 minutes to Staubbachbankli, we took the plunge and walked on the road. The walk on the hill road allowed used to admire the traditional Swiss village houses, small stream of water, and the lush green leaves of Spring. It was a cloudy day and we worried about the rain, but the weather Gods were helpful. When it was just around 6, wifey was a bit worried as we had to return in time for the train. She bidded us to return, but I pushed her a bit, the markers of the trail were sparse now, but we managed to reach the end of the hill. The sight of the waterfall on the hill across us, the clouds handing so low that we could not see the peak of the hill and various chairs to admire the view was the prize of this journey.
After spending a precious little 5 minutes, we headed back, somehow the return journey felt shorter, we were in time to catch our train. Its strange how satisfying a hike is, something which I am gradually getting fond of.