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|Grindelwald, 3000 feet below.|
Monday, September 19
The skies partially cleared. We left the bikes locked at the campground, stowed items in our backpacks, and then hopped on the train for Grindelwald. A half hour later we arrived in the center of an idyllic Swiss village. Accessed year round, the area is known for its skiing and rock climbing.
Andy and I locate a hiking map and walk the serpentine main road until a well signed trail points us in the right direction. We paused occasionally, to drink or shed a jacket, or to catch our breath. The going was steep, more difficult than I expected though I always welcome a break from the bike seat. It was wonderful to wear a backpack again. It’d been two months since we hiked in Scotland.
Two hours later we closed in on the Eiger’s sheer rock face, famously portrayed in The Eiger Sanction. Stars George Kennedy and Clint Eastwood battle to death on the cliff; it’s an epic and hairy scene, made all the more real by standing beneath that massive rock wall. Early snow prevented us from going higher than a chalet at 1,700 meters, but it’s a breathtaking turn around point. Jagged glaciers with comb-like spikes nearly 300 feet thick hang from white peaks. It’s like a giant tongue lapping into the canyon above us—a glorious vista which appeased my Swiss wanderlust.
On the descent, my knees were tender. No amount of cycling prepares us for negotiating a relentless downhill on rock and root-filled trails. I longed for the stability of poles to alleviate the descent. I’m often torn; a respite from the bike would acclimatize legs to the pounding, yet the need to keep cycling trumps all. Evening strolls never prepare us for more rigorous walks. For now, I’m content that the weather held for a lovely alpine hike.