So, the prior night, I searched different hikes to find out which one I wanted to do. The Jungfrau.ch company has a great marketing website for its private railways that link to a lot beautiful sites. I’ve never cared about getting to the top of Jungfrau, but I was almost swayed by the marketing for Schynige Platte. It looks so beautiful. There were also some nice write-ups by different bloggers. But ultimately, I realized that I had traveled to Wengen to see the Lauterbrunnen Valley so why would I backtrack almost all the way to Interlaken? [Also, please keep in mind I had two days to work with! Too short but way better than nothing!]
I did some more searching. And, on a trail running write-up, a woman mentioned her lunch stop at Berghotel Obersteinberg, a restaurant in a dairy farm. As I read more about the area, I read about Schmadribachfällen, which is a gorgeous waterfall (that seems to be several waterfalls in series) that is difficult to see without hiking to it. I was sold. My perfect Lauterbrunnen Valley hike was set.
As it turned out, although there was a lot of signage on the hike, it wasn’t always complete. What I mean by that is that the farthest destination might be listed but there were actually several ways to get there. As a result, I accidentally cut across the loop I meant to do. I had meant to include Oberhoresee, which is a beautiful mountain lake according to Google Images (see farthest right picture above). I wasn’t too disappointed since it meant I hiked to the base of Schmadribachfällen rather than view it from the top. It also saved me several hundred feet of elevation and really, I had plenty of it that day! Also, I discovered Tanzbödeli along the way, which was the highlight of the hike. All in all, my loop is approximated by the yellow highlight in the far left picture.
The next morning, I had a delicious breakfast at the hotel. The spread was amazing and, after being seated near a family in which the dad had horrific B.O, I took my plate outside to the terrace. This was a total win! Thanks for driving me outside, weird-outdoor-dude-with-unexplainable-B.O.-since-shower- access-is-available-at-a-hotel-and-you-have-no-excuse-first-thing-in-the-morning.
Then, I took the train down to Lauterbrunnen. I bought some snacks at the Coop and walked around while waiting for the bus, which I took to Stechelberg. Next, I took the gondola up to Gimmelwald where I started my hike. As on previous hikes in Switzerland, I feel no shame in saving some time and altitude gain with a well-placed gondola ride. Bonus, it was covered by the Swiss Rail Pass!
Gimmelwald is beautiful. It is a big favorite of Rick Steeves, whom I used to think I was way too cool for to take any of his advice. But, with age comes wisdom and while I’m not signing up for his tours, his website is helpful.
I set off for the Berghotel Obersteinberg (which I just realized also has the abbreviation of B.O. Excellent). I had saved directions on my phone, which was a safe thing to do even though I’m pretty sure I had signal the entire time. It was a translated webpage, which was a little confusing since it talked about “Bosom Fire,” which refers to the near-heart explosion that occurs a few miles in as I climbed up Busenbrand. It was very steep. Also, it made me happy I was going from Gimmelwald to Stechelberg rather than the other direction since that particular section was so steep, it would have been a little treacherous as a downhill.
After I finished that section, I walked through a forest-y field with cows. I drank some water through my LifeStraw and continued. Eventually, I came upon a sign for Tanzbödeli. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it, but I went for it. Then I wasn’t sure if I should do it because it looked like a steep rock scramble that would be safer with ropes. I decided to be like John Muir, meaning that I should walk up mountains that would probably be safer with a little gear. But, never fear. One, I am alive and typing this. Two, it actually wasn’t that bad step-by-step on the trail. It just looked intimidating.
When I got to the top, it was spectacular. The trail had been gray, sedimentary rock with flecks that looked like shale. But the top was a grassy plateau filled with wildflowers. It was a wonderful surprise. Translated it means, “the dance floor” and I felt like running through the field like Heidi although I would stop at the edge. I stayed for awhile to take it all in. It was so beautiful. I also got my first real view of the falls.
But, I had to get going! My next stop was the Obersteinberg hotel. I ordered a beer and an Alpkäse sandwich, which was two slices of bread, a huge hunk of alpkäse, and a knife. Unexpected presentation, but delicious!
Upon leaving, I messed up and missed the fact there was another Ober*** (Oberhornsee) destination. So, no lake for me. But I was happy that I took the valley route to Stechelberg because of the gorgeous waterfall views.
I took so.many.waterfall pictures. I also enjoyed the mostly downhill second half of the hike.
I eventually got to the Hotel Stechelberg. I had 30 minutes until the bus came, so I decided to grab a beer and a snack. Well, I missed the bus and waited a total of 90 minutes because the service was so.slow. But it was beautiful, I was sitting down after a long day of hiking, and it really felt amazing.