Switzerland: the land of cheese, chocolate, and wine. But there’s also something else that this nation is known for. Sometimes, when it’s raining, they hide. If you’re here long enough, you might even take it for granted and not even notice. No, we’re not taking about the bridge trolls; it’s the grandeur of the Alps! Among the mountain range’s vast features, there’s one that stands out more than most, and it’s the only horn that matters. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, coming in at an astounding 14,692 feet, it’s the rumbling, the tumbling, the chocolate loving backdrop himself, MAAAAAATTTEEERRRHOOOORNNNNN!!!!!
We woke up in the blackest of pitches to catch our early bus, which would take us to the train station, which then, after three and a half hours, brought us to the surprisingly large mountain town of Zermatt. The most pleasant surprise of the town was that there were no personal cars on the streets, only miniature buses, miniature taxis, and normal sized people. Matterhorn is viewable from almost anywhere along the streets, however we had plans to take a train a little bit higher into the Alps. This would of course cost more money, so we selected our hike for the day by walking into the tourist office and asking the kind employee to give information on the hike that provided the maximum amount of fun for the minimum amount of coinage. Upon her guidance, we selected the 5-lakes, or 5-seenweg, trail. As its name reveals, the approximately 8.5 mile hike brought us into contact with 5 sparkling lakes as well as a gaggle of other tourists. We were advised that the duration of the hike would be in the 3.5 hour range, however due to hours spent eating bread and cheese, staring at the crystal-clear water, pretending to rock climb, and staring at funny sheep, we clocked in at a leisurely 5 hours.
The terrain of this region was rocky with plenty of shrubs, dry grasses and evergreen trees. It was similar to what one would imagine the offspring to be of North American forests and lunar landscapes. Snow-topped peaks surrounded us, never obscuring the jagged-tooth majesty of their master. Each lake we visited was decidedly unique, with our agreed-upon favorite being lake #3, Grünsee (literally meaning “green lake”). The lake was in fact a lovely green shade and was the most peaceful and remote of the five lakes. It was followed by Moosjisee, a lake so vibrantly turquoise that it resembled an over-treated swimming pool heavily contaminated by some alien substance. It was in fact merely the mineral-rich glacier water that gave it such luster.
We had believed that Moosjisee was some of the bluest water we had ever observed until a few days later when we arrived in Triftbahn. If you haven’t heard of Triftbahn then welcome to the club, because this suspension bridge is a 100-carat hidden gem for Swiss outdoor adventures. In fact, it’s so hidden, in order to start our hike before noon, we had to wake up at 6 am and take 5 trains and 2 buses just to arrive at the cable car entrance. The station is so remote, that the only place to get food is at the cable car station itself, where we indulged in cheese and honey sweet crackers. The hike to get to the Triftbahn glacier and suspension bridge was short, yet doggedly steep. We lost some good men climbing up, namely the couple we rode the cable car with, but they were weak and had fancy sunglasses on.
After an hour or so push, we made it to the suspension bridge, and beheld the splendor that the bridge traversed. In addition to the 170-meter suspension bridge, there lay the pristine lake from which the searing blue originates. Feeding into this lake, creeping down from the mountain tops, was the luminescent Trift glacier. Neither of us had ever seen a glacier in person, and while it was an impressive sight, the waning size showed us the direct impact of climate change. The very existence of the Trift bridge, is due to the receding of this glacier, which people used to be able to walk across.
Walking the suspension bridge was safer than one might imagine, as there were many rails to hold on to that go up to shoulder-length. Despite this, every step taken brings tremors throughout the entire 170-meter length. Each person reacts differently to the sensation of this suspension bridge, and those who know us can imagine who reacted accordingly 😉
We thankfully made it back to solid ground and are looking forward to merging with another member of the Fyles clan in the coming weeks.
Ta ta for now!