I went to an Alp

Isn’t the singular word “Alp” just hilarious? I love it.

At this point, I feel like probably the whole world has seen my Swiss Alps photos on Facebook. But just in case, I will post all the photos here again, with snarky captions and/or cute anecdotes. Then maybe I will tell you about other things I have been doing. It will be grand. Leggo.

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After taking two trains, an international bus, and one more train, I saw this lovely lakeside town from the window of yet another train.
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Then while on another bus, I learned that the only countries that matter in the Alps are Switzerland, China, the entire EU, and America.
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Upon arrival at our hostel in Gimmelwald, we were delighted to find that they had a multipurpose outbuilding for both laundry and billiards.
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Also this nice view from the girls’ bedroom window (the mountains are too high to see the tops, sorry).
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Also the hostel was originally built in like the 1500s so when they put doors in the bathroom they built them around the rocks in the wall.
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Carolyn and I found two tiny pebbles in the gravel road with smiley faces drawn on them. You probably can’t see the smiley faces in the picture, but you can imagine them.
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We went for a walk after settling in and eating an assortment of fruit, crackers, and peanut butter for dinner.
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Found these kittens
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They did not know how to drive a truck
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Oops I thought this was the one where my eyes are open. Oh well, I’m too lazy to find the other picture.
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Okay now it’s Saturday, and we have started our hike. And hiked through another alpine town. And then this was the first snow we saw on the hike. And that is Carolyn.
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Our hostel hosts drew faces on all the hard-boiled eggs at breakfast, and I took this one along for a snack. It seemed kind of skeptical about that.
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Then we got to this alpine meadow and all ran around in it.
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Prolly killed a bunch of wildflowers with my big ol’ hiking boots. Oops.
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But look how cool and athletic I look
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Alpine village #3 of the hike… or maybe #4
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Can I move here now?
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Then we found this huge rock thing, and Carolyn started climbing it, which is more alarming than it seems because there’s just a cliff  to the left of it.
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But then I was like, okay I will climb it too. See the cliff on the left.
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Also see how alarmingly long my arms are. Armingly long?
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Here is me coming down the hill, trying not to put my hands on the prickly plants.
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Dunno what these are, but I have never seen them before and they are lovely.
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After all the rock adventures, we got to a little hut called Schilthornhuette, where we expected to eat lunch, but it was still closed for winter I guess. So we took pictures with their metal Swiss flag instead.
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And I did this again (first time was on Mt. Washburn in Yellowstone, featured as a Facebook profile pic).
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And then it got really dark and dramatic because of clouds and also because I didn’t lighten this photo.
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And then I ate some tinned herring in pepper sauce on hearty German bread. It was nice.
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Then we climbed up the side of this hill, which was literally just a rock scramble. Afterward we realized where the trail was. It was a little easier, but not much.
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Here is a picture of everyone else in the hiking party when we had almost reached the ridge from which we began the final ascent of the Bietenhorn.
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Then we got to the top of the ridge, and there were so many more mountains on the other side of the mountains we knew!
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And so much snow
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Also we had a nice view of this alpine lake
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I actually think this might be from somewhere else on the trail
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And then the view down the ridge from the top of the Bietenhorn… insane. There’s a helicopter on the left in front of the cloud too.
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At the top of the Bietenhorn!
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I have included all three photos of our new friend Jon intruding on my photo because it shows how quickly the clouds rolled in while we were up there.
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Either that, or Jon is a really slow walker. You’ll never know.
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And of course, we all signed this super fancy logbook at the summit.
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It’s not that tall a mountain, okay? But it felt pretty tall.
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Soli Deo Gloria
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Then we walked to this other place called Birg, where one of our party was taking the cable car down to go back early.
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The patio furniture was inexplicably pink…
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… but the giant pink beanbag pillows felt awesome after 7-8 hours of hiking.
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Then we walked through basically the North Pole.
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And there were more rocks.

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And we found this lil alpine pond.
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(It was cold)
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And we sat on this promontory(?) for a long time and looked at the mountains.
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Then we walked across this dam/pile of rocks, because that is the trail.
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Eventually, we got to another alpine village, where we met these pigs. They were very loud.
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Then Angela and John walked across another waterfall because they’re adventurous, while Ahmed and I walked across a bridge because we’re smart. Carolyn was hiking the Schilthorn with this guy named Christian because she’s incredible and wanted to ascend an even higher mountain that was also covered in snow.
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Then we finally saw the sun because there was a gap in the mountains by these houses that are also small restaurants.
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I met another cow
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But he was like “nah I don’t wanna be friends”
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Then Ahmed met some goat friends though so it was okay.
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Then we learned that the mysterious thing in the middle of the forest on our map was a waterfall
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So we walked behind it.
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And then we came out of the forest and saw Gimmelwald again, just below us!
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And shortly after, we arrived back at our hostel for celebratory craft beers, ramen, and stargazing/chatting with random people we met there, like a guy making a documentary about his friend Alex Honnold, who is a famous and legendary freeclimber.
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The next morning we all took a picture, also with our new Norwegian friends

 

 

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and said goodbye to the Mountain Hostel. We decided to spend the day hiking leisurely down from the hostel and along the valley to the train station, skipping the cable car and first bus.
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I momentarily forgot that on the way back we went to this crazy place in the valley where there are ten waterfalls inside a mountain. Highly recommended because it was overwhelmingly cool and big and loud and rainbowy, but the photos are all crap because it was huge and also inside a mountain.
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Basically it was like this the whole time. Just amazing.
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It was weird to get back to flat land, especially because the mountains just rise straight out of it. It was also weird to think that our hostel was so far up on top of these cliffs that we couldn’t see it, and that each subsequent town we had hiked to was so much higher that we couldn’t see it from the previous one. It was a lot of hiking, and it made me think about how cool it is that weak and out-of-shape people like me can do amazing things if we can’t see how far we have to go.

 

The end (except for lunch and a train to Interlaken and a poorly air-conditioned train to Bern and an unair-conditioned train to Zurich and a 4-hour bus to Munich, and a very large pretzel and the end of the Euro Cup final during my 1 hour in Munich, and then a 2-hour train to Stuttgart that ended up being 2 hours and 45 minutes, and arriving back at my apartment at 3:20 am).

I hope you have enjoyed this journey through the Swiss Alps with me! I’ve decided this is quite long enough, so I’ll write about general German things in a later post. I haven’t done a lot in the intervening weeks anyway, because my knee started hurting after we got back and it was not very good for walking or stairs or hiking or climbing. Better now though!

Take care, friends 🙂

 

Natalie

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