Weekend Hiking in the Bernese Oberland

16 Oct

Hiking in Kandersteg in the canton of Bern

Now that the marathon training has finished and we have both recovered (physically) from the event we are taking the opportunity to do some other forms of physical activity, like hiking! The weather throughout most of Europe was predicted to be less an accommodating to our outdoor adventure plans but my wonderfully resourceful husband found a small pocket of landscape in the Bernese Oberland that looked promising. Thanks babe!

After packing a few essentials we caught the train on Saturday morning from Geneva to Kandersteg via Brig.

Day 1: Kandersteg to Selden

11km, 500m incline, 3h20m (suggested timing).

Oh my goodness, everything was white already!! I was not prepared for this. I’m struggling to come to grips with the cooler weather as it is let alone preparing for proper winter and snow and below freezing temperatures. It was a sight that I was not prepared for and promptly told my husband so all the while being astounded at his excitement for all things white and wonderful! Who is this person I married? I must admit though that I was really excited to be out and about, doing something physical other than running and exploring these beautiful parts of Switzerland.

The weather looked promising although after the snowfalls on Thursday and Friday night we donned our gators as we thought the trail could get a bit slushy. We started off after a quick bite to eat at the Kandersteg train station cafe (a piece of salami between two pieces of bread for chf 6, hmm) and sure enough the trails turned snowy very quickly. There were even some parts of the trail that had not been walked on in a few days (as evidenced by the unadulterated snow cover) so we made sure to create lots of fresh new footprints.. hehe.. a bit childish but so much fun! Puddles had iced over and I managed to pick up a huge piece of ice from one puddle – how cool is that!!

As you can see, the scenery is pretty spectacular, walking in a narrow valley with snow-capped mountains towering all around, following a little river and being surprised by waterfalls every so often. And we were the only one’s out there. It was fairly easy hiking and took us around 2h45m including stopping for drinks and photos along the way. We stayed at Hotel Steinbock, a family run hotel since 1914, and a roaring fire on a chilly night was exactly what we needed. Many thanks to Ann and Christian for their hospitality and great food.

Day 2: Selden to Oeschinensee

We had planned to hike from Selden to Lauchernalp, a glacier traverse and climb to the Lötschenpass alongside the Lötsche glacier and into the neighbouring canton of Valais, but unfortunately the snow falls on Thursday, Friday AND Saturday night meant that the trails would be difficult to find (under 50cm of snow) and a high avalanche warning. Hubby was bitterly disappointed. Me, not so much. It would have been a 1,100m 4+ hour ascent to the Lötschenpass, which I’m sure would have had breathtaking views, and quite frankly I didn’t fancy that much pain. We had no choice but to return to Kandersteg via the route we’d come in on and find a short walk from the town. Our hosts suggested hiking to the Oeschinensee, an alpine lake about 1 hour from Kandersteg. Perfect!

How beautiful is that lake! Photo credit goes to my husband here. There were heaps of people at the lake; fishing, canoeing (eek! don’t fall in!), admiring the view. We spent a good hour there just gazing into the blue waters.

And did you notice the grass? It might have snowed on Saturday night at 2,000m but in the valley it must have rained because when we came back to Kandersteg on Sunday it was all green instead of white! So much nicer!!

It is approximately 5km from Kandersteg to Oeschinensee and with a 500m incline it took us about 1 hour to the top (much quicker on the way down though!). Again this was a relatively easy walk although there’s a cable car to take you up and down if hiking isn’t your thing.

The colours on the trees haven’t quite started to reflect Autumn which is a shame because it would have been really lovely to have red, orange and yellow leaves around.

I absolutely love living in Switzerland and being able to have experiences like this.

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