Location: Bernese Alps, Switzerland
We started at the top of Europe, in the snow crested peaks of Jungfrau.
Despite the snow, and our extremely high elevation, it was not cold. Surprisingly, I felt perfectly fine in shorts and a t-shirt. It felt like I was in another world, so high up and far away from civilization, and feeling warm in a place where fluffy flakes fell from the sky.
Being so high up, near the top of a mountain, felt amazing. The crunch of the snow under my shoes; the calming presence of my family; the breathtaking sights no matter which way I turned my head.
There were plenty trails to hike as well, but we had to save our energy. After we took the funicular back down to the nearest station, the rest of our day would be spent hiking the alps.
After a quick train ride, our hike began.
I followed the trails with my iPhone held up and the camera app open; I would capture every beautiful sight I saw, to be sure that I could forever remember this wonderful family adventure.
As we walked, a constant cacophonous ringing of bells blasted my ears. Cows equipped with very annoying cowbells roamed with grassy fields in the hundreds. Every time they moved in even the slightest bit, their bell would ring. Simply calling the sound annoying, doesn’t give it justice. And I had to listen to it for hours.
Not far into our hike, we came upon a crystal blue pond that sparkled like a sheet of glass. My brother stopped to pose for the camera.
The first couple hours of our hike were a lot of fun and packed with stunning views. My thumb didn’t leave the shutter button, and my widened eyes swept the expanse.
It was very hot and the uphills were hard to climb as the rocks slipped away beneath our feet, but this was what adventure was about. And whenever we tired, a large gulp of ice cold water was enough to revitalize us.
There were dozens of different paths that went off in separate directions, and we didn’t seem to have any plan in particular, other than to enjoy our day hiking the alps.
Eventually, we turned down a trail that led through a dense patch of trees and into a quiet and secluded area. It was very peaceful; there were no other people, and most importantly, we escaped the dinging bells.
We took a short break by a bridge to rest our aching legs and guzzle down some fluids.
Then we continued our wonderful sightseeing hike.
But this fun didn’t last forever.
Our water bottles went dry, and the sun bore down on us from above, scorching us with searing rays. Our phones had trouble finding service, and we didn’t really know where we were.
We used our paper map and google maps whenever it worked to try to find out how much farther we had to go to get to Wengen, but it was difficult to read. The only thing we could do was follow the path.
My head pounded, my legs ached, my throat was dry. I needed water desperately, and I was just about done walking, but there were no buildings in sight. My hamstring that I had injured earlier in the year was throbbing beyond measure and I didn’t know how much longer I could last.
After a very long time, we found a trough with tap water built next to the path. It didn’t look too sanitary to me, but I drank from it nonetheless. I would have drank anything.
And then, after another thirty minutes or so of scuffing my shoes against the rocks, I finally, finally saw hope.
It was hope, but it was still a long way to go.
I trudged on the loose stones with my eyes on my feet, until finally the stones turned to pavement.
We made it to Wengen!
And now, this year, my family is doing it again. But this time, we’ll be more prepared. We already bought some of those fancy water backpacks and brand new water bottles.
What could go wrong?
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