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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Mile High and Peace of Mind - Page 3

Written by Scott Haas
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      That morning and all subsequent ones were spent on our balcony with hiking breakfasts often of fresh bread, Birchermuesli, yogurt, blood orange juice, eggs scrambled with Gruyere, thin and smoked bacon, and plenty of hot coffee.

      And then, lacing our boots in the hallway, we would set out.  

      The immediate hills above Muerren are filled with pasturelands, the well known Swiss cows with humongous bells strapped to their necks with thick leather, and fields of flowers adjacent to forests.  The views, of course, were stunning in every direction, and the silence and natural power of the landscape sufficient to both distract one from private thoughts as well as fill one up with beauty.  The Swiss appreciation for nature is unsurpassed.  It’s no wonder that invalids and those troubled by life’s vagaries have sought out a country where they can literally join nature.  The experience is transformative.

      The hikes, true to the Swiss way of doing things, were more like long walks than uphill battles.  We would reach a ridge, which admittedly took effort and no more than forty-five minutes, and then establish a decent pace that lasted between three to five hours.

      In between we stopped for simple picnics of cheese, air dried beef called Bundnerfleish or Mostbroeckli (regional names), fruit, and rolls.  The Swiss have conquered the Alps and we also stopped often at tiny inns at high altitudes to enjoy coffee or tea.

      The idea is to enjoy the mountains, take nature in, and, ironically, to accept its force passively.  You surrender to its power.

      At the end of the day, the hike over, we stopped off at a pub on the main (and only) drag in Muerren.  Edelweiss has exquisite views of the Alps from its terrace.  Stangerstubli is a hangout for locals.  Cold beer on draft after a day on your feet is perfection.

      The region of Muerren is not just for hiking.  Yes, they say that skiing was invented here by an Englishman over a century ago.  Or was that Wengen across the valley?  Either way, any season is ideal for a long visit.

      We hiked all but one day out of three weeks, and we took time off then to ascend to Jungfraujoch.  A marvel of engineering has enabled a train to climb to what amounts to a slight recess between the Mönch and Jungfrau.  In the summer, as many as 5,000 visitors take the trip, which lasts over an hour, and at the top, which is 3,471 meters, people spread out in all directions to take in a huge and fascinating Visitors Center.

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Last modified on Friday, 01 November 2013

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