Tour of the Jungfrau Region with Jen

Day 2

DISCLAIMER:  Any and all information presented in this post is the opinion of the author who is not certified in any way or an expert on any subject presented.  Hiking is inherently dangerous and doing so without adequate preparation and knowledge could result in serious injury or death.   This post is not intended to be comprehensive and is provided with no warranties, guarantees or representations whatsoever.  Use of this information is solely at your own risk.

Table of Contents

Introduction [TOC]

In September 2015, I was fortunate enough to take the trip of a lifetime with my younger daughter, Jennifer who is 20 and a Junior at TCU.  I had been to Lauterbrunnen with my older daughter, Elizabeth in 2010.  We had such a good time, I have been longing to come back and hike the region.  Jen took the last two weeks of her summer vacation to spend with her Dad, a gift I will cherish forever.

Quite a bit of research went into the trip and I want to make that information available to whomever might find it useful.  So, this post is designed for anyone who is considering a multi-day hike in Switzerland.  Most of what is described here is generally applicable throughout the region like the TMB.

Embarking on this sort of trip is a bit daunting because of the number of options and uncertainty about travel, severity of trail, physical ability, accommodations, trail navigation, food, possibility of sickness or injury and many other factors.  Guide services are available to make things easier, but you will pay 3X or more for that convienence.  For me, part of the fun was in staring down the doubt and doing the hard work to embark on the journey with confidence.

Confidence, says I…and then comes that moment of truth when reality meets plan and improvising and creativity replace the blueprint.  That’s what is otherwise known on the trail as an oh-s#&t moment, of which there are plenty.  Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes with the information presented here.  If you do manage to take this magnificent trip, you’ll not forget it and moreover, you won’t ever complain about your American breakfast again.

Overview [TOC]

The Tour of the Jungfrau Region (TJR) is a planned circular trip of  75 miles in an area known as the Jungfrau Region, near Interlaken, Switzerland, above and through the valleys of Grindlewald and Lauterbrunnen. With its massive granite cliffs juxtaposed against lush green valleys and mysterious glaciers, the region is one of the most spectacular in all of Switzerland. The TJR route is not a formally recognized route such as the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), but rather connects well known trails, such as the Eiger Trail with some lesser traveled trails to provide spectacular views of the region, only reachable by foot. The route was planned by Kev Reynolds, author of the well know guide book for the TMB.  See my post regarding the TMB to compare the TMB to the TJR.

The TJR route is described in detail in his book entitled Tour of the Jungfrau Region, available on Amazon.

Tour of the Jungfrau Region

Guidebook Cover

In this book, he provides all details necessary to plan and execute the trip, although I will describe additional resources in this post, which can also help in planning.  Another good book on the area is this one…

SWISS Bernese Oberland

Book Cover - SWISS Bernese Oberland

Photo Gallery [TOC]

Here are some photos from the trip, in order.

Overview Maps (For Getting a Sense of the Region and Route – NOT FOR NAVIGATION)  [TOC]

The following are overview maps which show the trails throughout the region. There are two principal views that also divide the trip into two distinct halves. The Jungfrau view is looking towards the face of the three tall peaks, the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. This covers roughly the first half of the trip. From there, you descend into the Lauterbrunnen valley and start the second half of the trip, viewing the Schilthorn peak. With the exception of the imposing Schilthorn climb, these maps do not do justice to the real elevation change, but rather provide a general sense for the region. The numbers correspond to the night sequence numbers where we stayed, as noted in the Accommodations section of this post. Note that we stayed two nights in Kleine Scheidegg so that we had a full day to take the train up to the Top of Europe.

Overview (1 of 1)

If you are a visual person (like me), then you may be able to get a sense for the region from the 3-D views below.  There are two principal views that also divide the trip into two distinct halves. The Jungfrau view is looking towards the face of the three tall peaks, the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. This covers roughly the first half of the trip. From there, you descend into the Lauterbrunnen valley, rest up, and start the second half of the trip.  This view points to the Schilthorn peak (which you really cannot see until you get near Rotstockhutte). With the exception of the imposing Schilthorn climb, these maps do not do justice to the real elevation change, but can give a general idea of the region.  Here are the two views…

View 1 (The Eiger) – Here is the view of the first half of the trip, which is generally around the Grindelwald valley as viewed from high above Interlaken (facing south-east).  Note the black lines are trails and the red lines are transport by either train, cable or bus.  This affords options (in most, but not all cases) to stay on your itinerary in the event of bad weather, injury or sickness.  For example, we got food poisoning eating pizza in the town of Grindelwald, which knocked out out for a day.  Consequently we were able to easily catch a bus to see a gorge along the planned route and then take a train from Grindelwald to Alpiglen to keep on track with our reservations.  The numbers correspond to the night sequence numbers where we stayed, as noted in the Accommodations section of this post.

Overview (1 of 1)-3

View 2 (Schilthorn) – Here is the view of the second half of the trip, which is generally around the Lauterbrunnen valley as viewed from Grindelwald (facing south-west). Because of time constraints, we cut out the section of the trip that goes to Stechelburg and Obersteinburg.  I understand that those are worth seeing, but time constraints and trail fitness dictate how much you can actually do.  On these maps, cable cars are shown in black and trails in red.  Buses are not show, but run between many areas in the mid and lower regions.  Again, the operative word is “options.”

Overview (1 of 1)-3

Accommodations [TOC]

The guide book provides choices along the route.  Picking places to stay is critical because a poor choice is not easily corrected.  Making reservations can be a challenge.  I made our reservations in April for the Sept 2 start.  During this time, the hotels and ski resort places were less than 50% occupied, however a few of the mountain lodges were at capacity.  Here is what we found:

  • (1) Manndidenen (Weber Hut) was almost 100% full.
  • (2) First was virtually empty.  Maybe 10% full.
  • (3) Glecksteinhutt (highly recommended) was almost 100% full.
  • (4) Hotel Wetterhorn was maybe 20% full.
  • (5) Alpeglen was maybe 20% full.
  • (6,7) Kleine Scheidegg was maybe 30% full (stayed 2 nights)
  • (8) Valley Hostel was 100% full.
  • (9) Mountain Hostel was 100% full.
  • (10) Rotstockhutt (recommended) was 100% full.
  • (11) Pension Sonnenberg was maybe 20% full.
  • (12) Suls Lobhorne Hut was mayb 25% full.
  • (13) Zurich Airport Hilton seemed full, but not capacity.

Below is a list of all Accommodations as listed by the guide book (yellow is where we stayed). In most cases, these are the only options because there is no town.  The exceptions are Hotel Wetterhorn (Grindelwald), Lauterbrunnen and Muren.  All have several other options and you could look at Trip Advisor to figure out which ones are good.

Switzerland Trip - Itinerary - All .xlsx  Switzerland Trip - Itinerary - All .xlsx - 2 of 2 

To Download PDF for above file, click here:  All Accommodations Along Trail

Here is a summary of the final reservations:

Switzerland Trip - Itinerary - Final.xlsx

To Download PDF for above file, click here:  Final Reservations Summary

Making reservations takes a bit of time and energy.  First you have to look at he website and figure out how to request a reservation.  Some of them are in German, but some have an English flag for changing to English.  Some browsers will translate automatically. A few will not.  In that case it is easy to copy and past into Google.  Just search for “translate German to English” and then copy and paste.  Sometimes there is a form and sometimes you need to send an email.  ALWAYS be sure that you get an email confirmation.  You may have to call.  If you do, they can usually get someone to the phone that speaks English.  The alternative is to pay for a “self guided” tour and let someone do the reservations for you.  It will likely be at the same place and the cost will be 3 to 5 times more.

Costs  [TOC]

Here are our actual cost for the trip for two people:

$3,220 – Credit Card (Most places accept VISA and MC; a few will accept AMEX).  Always select the Swiss Franc option when presented with an option.  Your own bank has better rates than the local merchant).

$1,000 – Cash (Change dollars for Swiss Francs in Zurich airport at the train station – not the commercial place you see first.  The rate is better. Some refuges only accept cash because they have very limited connectivity)

$3,000 – Two Tickets (Delta) round trip from Atlanta to Zurich; or use miles, if you have them.

$7,220 – Total

Included in the above numbers:

  • Lodging for 13 nights (about half private room and half dorm style with 2 to 20 sleeping companions).
  • Meals for 14 days
  • Train Tickets (about $350 round trip from Zurich to Interlaken for both of us)
  • Tickets to Top of Europe (about $350 round trip for both of us)
  • Zip lining at First (about $50 for both of us)
  • Hang Gliding (about $450 for both of us)

So, that works out to $3,020 without airfare, transportation and big ticket entertainment.  That, divided by 13 nights = $232 per night for the two of us (or $116 per person per night) for food and lodging.  That may seem a bit high considering the spartan conditions, but it’s important to remember that transporting supplies to and from these locations is very expensive, often by helicopter.  And, that includes two meals, which are normally quite good if you don’t count the breakfast…

I did a quick search on “self guided” tours and tours with private guides.  Here are a few links and I am sure there are others.  I just looked at a few for comparison.

  • Alpine Hikers
    • $3090 for 10 nights = $309 per person per night – self guided.
    • $1990 for 5 nights = $400 per person per night – self guided.
  • Ryder Walker
    • $1820 for 5 nights = $364 per person per night – self guided.
    • $4475 for 8 nights = $559 per person per night – guided party of 4.
  • Rubicon Outdoors
    • $2290 for 6 nights = $380 per person per night – self guided standard.
    • $2890 for 6 nights = $498 per person per night – self guided deluxe.

For “self guided” tours, the company will make all the reservations for you and some will customize the trip to meet your specific needs.  I think that most include food and lodging and some include a baggage transfer service to some of the lodging locations if you can’t pack light enough to carry all your crap.  They also provide map, route descriptions and other information.  If you are willing to book the lodging on your own and order a map and guidebook, then you can save the difference.  Here are an example of the information that is provided by the self-guided tour company for the TMB: Pages from TMB Self Guided Details – Quick Route – Example.  It is tidy, but not essential.

I don’t see where any offer the Swiss Mobility App which is really what you need to navigate the area.  Fumbling though route descriptions while on the trail is time consuming and confusing because you really don’t always know where you are with a great deal of certainty relative to the descriptions.  My personal opinion is that the self guided services would up their value if they provided a temporary subscription to the Swiss Mobility App with the routes preprogramed in.  This is something that can be done on your own in a couple of hours, but they could provide material value to the clients if they took care of this too.  Eventually they will, I hope.

For all the equipment needed for the trip including pack, boots, clothing and other stuff, count on about $1,000 to $2,000 depending on your need for top-of-the line gear.  You do not have to buy all high-end gear for a great experience.  For example, Costco sells a rain jacket that is killer for about $25.  The one I bought for Jen is as good if not better than my high end rain jacket which cost $200.  Don’t skimp on your boots and be sure to get fitted by someone who knows hiking.  They must be a tad large but not too large.

Packing List [TOC]

Here is the stuff I brought.  My pack without water weighed about 25 pounds. I could have done with less, but it was OK.

Pack Group

  • Backpack
  • Pack rain cover
  • Inner pack bladder
  • Plastic trash bag
  • Trecking poles (2)

Clothes Group

  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants
  • Hiking socks – 3 pair
  • Underwear 3 pair
  • Short sleeve shirt – 2
  • Long sleeve shirt – 2
  • Lightweight shorts
  • Zip-off pants – 1
  • Pants to wear at night – 1
  • Sleeping pant tights
  • Sleeping shirt tights
  • Fleece jacket
  • Croc shoes for in berghaus
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves – can handle rain
  • Boots
  • Ball cap

Hygiene Group

  • Pack towel – large
  • Pack towel – small
  • Soap
  • Clothesline – 25′
  • Soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Gold bond in small bottle
  • Zip locks
  • Prescription medication
  • Other toiletries – small travel size

Other

  • Gatorade bottles – 2
  • Sleeping silk sleeve
  • Small wallet with ID credit cards and cash
  • Swiss army knife
  • Watch
  • Glasses
  • Glasses wipe cloth
  • Electrolyte pills – enough for each day
  • Trail mix
  • Camera, spare batteries, charger
  • Phone, charger
  • Power converter
  • Power splitter
  • Backup battery for USB devices
  • Duct Tape (for repairs) – about 10 feet or so.
  • Lighter
  • First aid kit (ziplock with Neosporin, bandaids, aspirin, etc.)
  • Small flashlight
  • Salt and pepper shaker – comes in handy every now and then.
  • Waterproof compression bags to store your stuff.  Different colors so you can easily sort out.

Food and Water [TOC]

Most of what you find in the high country will be of a Swiss variety.  In towns and hotels, there are more options (except breakfast, which is Swiss).

Dinner – Dinner is served at a set time, usually 6:00.  Dinner in the berghaus is almost always traditional Swiss and mostly quite good.  After hiking all day, most anything looks good, so even if you don’t like it, you will.  You can order beer or wine most places.  Dinner is generally included in the price of the room.  In the berghaus,  you are assigned a place to sit (with a name card).  We met the coolest people during these times.  If you don’t speak German, then everyone is very willing to speak in English.  Everyone, with very few exceptions, was eager to make conversation and help however they can.

Breakfast – The night before, the hosts will tell you when breakfast starts, usually 7:00 or 8:00.  Without exception, breakfast was Swiss, although some were better than others.  This included yogurt that you can mix with granola or cereal, bread, an occasional croissant, butter, hard cheese, an occasional hard boiled egg, juice and coffee.  Don’t expect to find an omelet or scrambled eggs or bacon or sausage.  Protein is hard to come by in the Swiss breakfast.  Breakfast is generally included in the price of the room.

Lunch – The berghaus will usually prepare a bag lunch to be ready in the morning, if you ask the night before.  We never used that service.  For us, “lunch” was usually a 10 or 15 (sometimes 30) minute break on the trail every couple of hours.  We took one 5 pound bag of trail mix from Costco (which was actually 4 pounds because I ate 1 pound before the trip…I like trail mix), spiked with a large bag of dark chocolate M&Ms, which were perfect for the breaks we took.  The other trail delicacy was a loaf of bread and a block of cheese, purchased at any regular grocery store when passing through towns (Coop is the miniature Publix of Switzerland).  When taking a break on a carefully chosen rock with a vista which includes 30 glaciers, that combination was like a dinner in a 5 star restaurant.  The trail mix lasted us about 2/3 of the trip.  We bought a package of Snickers bars for the last part of the trip.

When staying in a hotel (in towns), check to see if food is built into the rate or if you can choose either way.  Better if it is not so you can have options, but that’s a personal choice.  It’s nice to get out and have a restaurant meal, but even that can backfire as with BOTH of us getting food poisoning on a pizza in Grindelwald.  The name of the place is Restaurant Pizzeria da Salvi.  I would not chance eating there under any circumstances.   As for food in the region, I think that was a fluke.  It could have happened just as easily around here.  It’s the only time I have ever encountered a problem in several months of travel throughout Europe.

Water – We each had 3L bladders in our packs, a Gatorade bottle (1L) and a small bottle (1/2L).   This was sufficient.  Fill up in the morning, depending on where the next stop is.  With all full, that’s 4.5L X 2.2 pounds/L = 10 pounds.  So, if we were to cross streams, we could hydrate using the Life Straw Filter and carry less weight.  The filter fits perfectly in the Gatorade bottle.  Be sure to bring at least one for each person.  Two per person is better.  I would say that in an average day, we would drink the full 4.5L of water.  Hydrate often and you’ll feel better.

Maps and Navigation [TOC]

Here is the link to a map app which I used to plan the route: Switzerland Mobility .  It costs $30 per year but was well worth the cost. The app can be downloaded from the App Store.  To put it bluntly, this app with save your arse !!!  From the comfort of my living room, months before the trip, I was able to use the paper map and the guidebook to lay out the exact planned route we were to walk in a couple of hours.  Trying to make sense of all that while on the trail would have been taxing.   I wish I would have had this last year when Sandy and I did the TMB, but we managed because the TMB is always marked consistently with a TMB mark.  For this trail (the TJR), there is no such consistent marking.  You can come to an intersection of 6 trails and the correct route is not always intuitively obvious…

Day 12

Day 12

Thankfully we had the app on both of our phones (under a single subscription), which provided an exact GPS “location dot” on a detailed, zoomable, topographical map with all trails marked.  I cannot emphasize how critical this is…

Day 12

Day 12

Here are some screen shots of what it looks like on your phone (I created a separate route for each day):

IMG_0736

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IMG_0738

IMG_0737

In the map view, the “location dot” shows you where you are on the trail.  If you are at an intersection and not sure, just walk and watch the dot.  If it is moving along the path you want, then you are good to go.  If not, then turn around try a different path.  It’s usually a choice of two.  Believe me, the LAST thing you want to do is hike for an hour or more and find out you have to retrace your steps.  Once, even with the app, we made a wrong turn and luckily discovered the mistake in less than 10 minutes.  But even that was disheartening because it was at the end of a very long day and we were exhausted.  Again, navigating this trial is a little tricky, but if you have the app and plot out your course in advance, it’s very easy to navigate without getting lost.  My only criticism of the app is that it does not give you a “location dot” in the elevation view.  It’s difficult to understand why the developers would leave out such an obvious feature.  Hopefully they will add it sometime.

Here is the detail of every segment of the trip:

I also carried a paper map for the region.  I needed this map to figure out how to translate the guidebook into the app anyway.  But it also provided a backup in the event of running out of iPhone battery and sometimes helped to look at options and such.  I recommend getting one.  Here is the link to purchase:   Topo Map

Trail Map Section UsedElectronics and Wi-Fi [TOC]

Full disclosure here…we are both electronics geeks.  I brought a camera which I connected to the strap of my backpack.  Jen brought a GoPro, which she strapped to her chest with a special harness.  She actually recorded the entire trip in time lapse, which I will post a link to when she finishes editing.  We both had iPhones.  I had a battery charger for camera and we would have been much better off with one for the GoPro (vs charging through the GoPro).  We also had two backup batteries.  I also had a gizmo for taking the files off the camera card and moving to a USB stick.  Turns out that was not needed because of the size of the camera cards.  But be sure you have enough storage for the trip.

You may not be quite as over-the-top as us, but you’ll at least need a smart phone for the electronic trail map (see Maps and Navigation).  Regardless, charging will be a source of daily stress.  Outlets are available in every location, but sometimes that equates to a single outlet in the kitchen that everyone shares (Rotstockhutte).  For each person, be sure to bring one (preferably two) Swiss power adapters per person to change from USA standard.  Also bring a splitter which gives you three USA outlets from a single Swiss outlet.  This can save you if there is only a single or shared outlet available.  And, you cannot buy it in Switzerland (I tried and failed last year).  Keeping phone charged for navigation is important.   I don’t know of anyone having their electronics stolen, but I would keep an eye on your valuables.

Wi-Fi was available in most, but not all of the places we stayed.  The more remote places don’t have it (Manndidenen (Weber Hut), Glecksteinhut, Rotstockhut, Suls Lobhorne Hut).  It’s usually fairly low bandwidth and not always reliable.  In this area, 4G and LTE is often available.  So, if you have an international data plan, you could use it sparingly, if needed.  You may wish to just unplug from the grid completely, which is a personal choice.  Even if you do, sometimes, the grid can be helpful in figuring out where to eat when there is a choice or making reservation changes.

Times and Distances [TOC]

Here is the final tally of the actual distances and elevations, plus the time that the guide book predicted vs. the time it actually took us to hike.

Final Tally

Pre-hike Fitness Training [TOC]

The training that is required obviously depends on your level fitness.  We hiked similar times once as our training together.  I was not worried about Jen because she played D1 volleyball for TCU.  She did fine.  But I did have some concerns about me at age 57 and having been unable to work out much  because of recovering from rotator cuff surgery.  I did a number of sessions on the Stairmaster at the gym.  Probably 5 in total for an hour each time.   I also had a bone spur in my left ankle and so got an injection for that and constructed a gizmo that relieved the stress of that joint by preventing extreme dorsiflection on uphill climbs.

I planned two relatively easy days at the beginning of about 600M or so of climb and descent each day.   That was critical.  By the third day when we had a very difficult climb of 890M, my body had acclimated and was fine.  By the end of the trip, we were able to climb 1435M in a single day with 755M descent, followed by a climb of 1,022M and descent of 1,191M.  Well, the final descent….we were dragging.  And these climbs are not by any means supposed to impress anyone.  Plenty of fit people can do better.  For me, though, it was an appropriate amount of difficulty, consistent with my fitness level, or lack thereof.  My daughter would zip ahead and wait patiently, bless her sweet little heart.  But the point is that you use the trail to get in shape.  DO NOT go too fast to start with, even if you can.  Acclimate.

Getting To and From the Region – Relatively Straightforward [TOC]

Assuming you are in the US, fly to Zurich.  Our flight left around 5pm on Sunday and arrived 7 am Monday in Zurich, nonstop.   I looked at many other options and flying to Zurich was the best, by far.  Then, take a train to Interlaken which takes about 2 1/2 hours.  With the immigration line and baggage collection, that put us in Interlaken about 1:00 pm.  Plenty of time to putz around in Interlaken, no?  Not if you intend to hike that day and make it to your destination in time for dinner.  In Interlaken you can book the train to Winderwil (you could probably do this from Zurich) and then to Schynige Platte.  At Winderwil, take the very old and slow and steep train up to Schynige Platte, which is where you start the hike.

On the return, it depends on if you hike down or cable car down.  We did the latter.  We took the cable car down from Sulwald to Isenfluh.  The Sulwald station is unmanned, but if you pick up the phone near the car, the operator at the other end will know to bring you down.  From Isenfluh, we took the bus down to Lauterbrunnen.  There, we booked a train ticket from Lauterbrunnen to Zurich, changing trains once in Interlaken and once in Bern.  About a 3 hour ride. Spent the night in Zurich at the Airport Hilton and then flew out the next morning at 10 am, arriving in Atlanta about 4 in the afternoon.  Here is the Train Schedule.  I never made train reservations in advance except for Top of Europe.  When the weather is nice in particular, the tickets sell out 3 – 4 days in advance.  As with most of Europe, public transport is far superior to most of the USA.  Ask the person at the desk where you are staying for advice and pick up a current schedule.

Flowers  [TOC]

We had a spectacular display of flowers along most sections of the trail.  Here is an ID chart I found in the Schynige Plate brochure (I think we saw most all of them along the trail):

Flowers (83 of 2)

Flowers (82 of 2)

Other Websites [TOC]

The following are a collection of good web links that I came across when researching the trip:

Another Hiker’s Description of Schynige Platte to Grindelwald

Day Hikes from Gimmelwald

More Day Hikes from Gimmelwald

Day Hikes in the Region

Lauterbrunnen

Mochnsjochhutte-Jungfraujoch Trip Adviser

Mochnsjochhutte-Jungfraujoch-Sattelite Map

Self Guided Tour Starting at $2,250 per Person

Another Self Guided Tour

Swiss Alps Trail Map

Jungfrau Summer Map

Jungfrau Summer Map

Schilthorn Trail Map

Various 3D Maps

Jungfrau Top of Europe Videos:

Lessons Learned and Re-Learned  [TOC]

  • Losing Weight – The myth of this kind of hiking is that you will automatically lose weight.  That is only partially true.  Because you are so hungry,  you may be inclined to eat and drink anything in sight, thinking that you earned it…and you have.  And, you’ll probably not gain weight that way, but will not lose any.  But if you want to come back with progress around the belt, then limit your intake to reasonable quantities.  I dropped a much needed inch and a half during the trip as did Jen.  That’s a nice bonus at the end of the trip.
  • Cowbells – The cowbells will keep you awake at night sometimes.  Bring earplugs for them as as well as snoring neighbors.  We did not have any snorers, but it’s a risk in dorm settings.
  • Flies – The flies can be a bit annoying.  Not sure that there is much you can do about them.  They don’t bite, but they are definitely a nuisance.  There is no advice here…just fair warning.
  • Reservations – I made reservations in late April, early May.  Some places were empty, but a few were full (like Glecksteinhut, Mountain Hostel, Valley Hostel, and Rotstockhutte).  Many of the others were not at all full.  So, it depends.  If remote and limited space, book early, for sure.
  • Reservations for Top of Europe – This can book up several days in advance, particularly if forecasted to be clear.  You cannot change your ticket, so it’s a risk if you book early and you fall behind on your itinerary or the weather is bad.  This one, you need to weigh the risk both ways and make your best decision.
  • Slick Roots – It only takes one slip to ruin your trip (or worse).  Be particularly vigilant when going downhill and avoid stepping on roots.  Be sure to brace with hiking poles for secure footing.  In some steep sections, it can take longer going downhill than up.
  • Shower Facilities – In the high country, the “shower” consists of a sink (Manndidenen, RotStockhutte, Suls Lobhorne Hut).  In Manndidenen, the sink was just a trickle because the water had to be helicoptered in.  Lobhorne Hut’s sink was outside in view of anyone who passed by. Modesty in those places is at a premium. All other places had real showers, but some were co-ed, but stalls were private.  Nothing you can do about this but to understand that is part of what to expect.
  • Buying Food – Look for the Coop grocery or some other general grocery store.  Cost will be half of what you pay in some of the smaller outfits for buying bread and cheese for the trail.
  • Cash and Credit Cards – I used $1,000 in cash for the trip for both of us.  I had more, just in case.  I was able to use VISA or MC in most inns.  Several of the huts only take cash.  Be sure to have Swiss Francs.
  • Watch Your Valuables – I always kept my cash with me…always.  I generally kept an eye on my electronics too.  I think the chances of a hiker stealing something is very low, but not zero.  More likely, someone from the outside might come in and steal something.  A hiker told Jen that this happened in a hostel, but I don’t know if that was a hiking hostel or not.  Just use common sense and don’t tempt fate.  Your smelly cloths are safe.
  • Spur Hikes – If time permits, spend two nights or more at Glecksteinhut and tackle some of the higher hikes.  Some other places may have great spur hikes as well. There is a link to hikes above.
  • Morning Check – I lost a Swiss Army Knife by not checking carefully enough.  Fortunately, I was in Switzerland and was able to replace it.  The problem is that you have little space to put your stuff in the dorm settings especially.  It’s easy for something to slide behind a pillow or behind the mattress.  Better to double check.
  • Wash Clothes Nightly – I brought one set of cloths to hike in and another to wear in the evening while the hiking cloths were drying after being washed.  If still a little damp in the morning, it really does not matter.  They will be wet from sweat soon anyway.  Carrying around dirty cloths just adds weight.  Where you find washing and drying machines, use them for a full wash and dry.
  • Handrails and Cables – If they are available (like the climb to Glecksteinhut and Schilthorn), use them always.  They are there for a reason.  I kept both poles in the other hand so I could also use one pole.
  • Start Slow, Finish Strong – Don’t press too hard in the beginning by trying to hike too much in one day.  By the third or forth day, you’ll be better able to step it up a notch.

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