Friday, July 27, 2007

CH - Meiringen & Trift

My first task for Friday was to travel to Trift, the location of a glacier, a lake, a stream, and – more importantly – a really high pedestrian suspension bridge. Now first, note that transportation to and fro is not the best. Buses from Meiringen to the Triftbahn run infrequently, so check the schedule. Buses departing from Triftbahn are generally hourly, except that my one bus was running 30 minutes late: arriving at the same time as the next bus, running at about 17:00 to pick up the peak hiker traffic. Mind you, it is only a 20 minute trip in total … and the first station of the route is 3 minutes away… how the 16:40 bus was 30 minutes late is beyond me. I’d expect that in Italy, but in the country that practically invented time? Inconceivable!

Then there is the capacity of the cable car itself: 8 people per car, 2 cars, at a 20-minute roundtrip. Fortunately, as I was a solo traveler, I fit in on an ascending car after only waiting about an hour. The descent took a mere 30-minute wait, but that resulted in me just barely missing the 15:40 bus (assuming it arrived) and thus I had to sit around an hour and a half for the next bus. The hike from the base is only about an hour and a half, according to my guidebook, so it may be worth bypassing the lift entirely. Now, all this said, if you take the lift then respect that it is open for use at all: it serves the power station and was not originally intended for tourism.

All the above ranting and I still say that Trift was worth it. So very worth it. The hike itself was lovely: a lot of small bits of rock climbing and on some occasions, the path disappeared entirely. To put it simply: I love sauntering about on rocks. The way between the lift station and the bridge overlook can be done by any able-bodied person, but wear shoes with excellent grip and travel light. From the bridge overlooked down to the bridge and beyond, however, the difficulty changes considerably. To and beyond the bridge, the path is marked with blue and white, indicating intermediate difficulty and some climbing skills required (red/yellow indicates novice trails). The blue/white trail was a blast – I loved it, for as far as I got on it before opting to turn back so-as to ensure I caught the last bus back to Meiringen. If only there were more blue/white trails around.

The bridge itself was very snazzy. Now I should say that I am afraid of heights… not in the sense that I’m paralyzed with fear, but rather that I get this overwhelming urge to jump. It’s pretty much the only part of my own psychology which I just cannot figure out. So basically, just being high up gives me a sweet dose of adrenaline, which is my straight-edge version of cocaine. Now you know why I love climbing trees and why, when on an airplane, my head is pretty much glued to the window. Sometimes I lean over the person in the window seat, if I’m beside them; or I squirm about for a good view if I’m in the aisle seat – setting those in between at unease as I stare intently across their laps with a childish look of excitement blended with ecstasy. So… yeah… the bridge was neat. I ran across it, jumped on it, and tried to swing it back and forth; whereas everyone else just kind of slowly shuffled across one step at a time.

Upon my return, I attempted to get a better view of the Reichenbachfall, which overlooks Meiringen. Alas, I soon discovered that the hiking paths are not very convenient nor do they offer any good views. I thought such anti-hiker setups were unheard of in Switzerland! As best I am aware, the only way to really see the falls is to ride the funicular, which was closed by this point. Just as well: I refuse to pay for something which I can just as easily do myself. This is why I don’t pay to use the bathroom: I can easily pee outside or even on the door to the bathroom, making sure to give the coin-operated lock a good wash of irony. After coming to the harsh realization that the funicular was necessary to see the waterfalls, I decided that I was going to bycott such an arrangement and skip the whole thing. Just as well: I live near enough to Niagara Falls that pretty much the only waterfalls which are going to impress me are Angel and Victoria.

The Aareschlucht (Aare Gorge) was lit tonight and was neat to see. I snapped a couple photos and made my way out. It was quiet cold in there: among my emergence from the gorge it felt that much hotter. Alas, I could only see half the gorge: a gate blocked my way to the Innertkirchen side; why, I do not know. Perhaps that side just doesn’t open for the Wednesday/Friday night openings?

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