Switzerland: Walking Trail in Männlichen

Travel Period : 16 – 20 July 2013

Location: Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg

{ Previous Post: Hotel and Exploration of Wengen }

Day 2 – Morning

As we pulled apart our room’s curtains, we were welcomed with the sight of the magnificent Swiss Alps. It was simply gorgeous!

Day2_Morning
“I must go up to those majestic Alps!”

Today is the day when we would take our first hike in Switzerland. We would be taking Hike #33, beginning at Männlichen and ending at Kleine Scheidegg. This route provides a good hour-long hike for mountain enthusiasts of all ages and is gently sloping according to the manager. It would be suitable for young children like Dar too.

Starting from Männlichen, which is 2,230 metres above sea level, this gentle high-altitude trail would lead us southwards to Kleine Scheidegg. The views of the peaks of the Alps and the valleys of Grindelwald would accompany us throughout the hike, which is estimated to take 1 hour and 30 minutes.

We made our way to the dining hall of our Hotel Edelweiss to have our buffet breakfast, after which we started heading up slope towards Wengen Town. We were glad that the air was a lot cooler than the day before, making our walk much more comfortable.

Ten minutes later, we passed by Wengen Train Station and arrived at the Wengen–Männlichen Aerial Cableway Station, located just beside the Visitors’ Centre. From here, we would take a 5-minute ride up to Männlichen to begin our hike.

Day2_TouristCenterWengentoMannlichen

Showing our Swiss Card, we got a discount for our cable car rides and walked into the waiting area for the next available cabin. The area was still quite empty and we stepped into the huge cabin that arrived. It was huge and could take around 50 passengers. After we had settled ourselves in it, a large crowd of tourists started to arrive and joined us in the cabin. We were glad to have arrived earlier to beat the crowd, else we might not be able to get a good window spot to stand through the ride.

As the cableway started its steady ascent, our excitement grew as we saw ourselves moving closer to the Alps, while the town of Wengen looked smaller and smaller.

Day2_TakeTheAerialCablewayMannlichen

When we arrived at the station on Männlichen, we waited for the rest of the passengers to alight first before we left the cabin.

Standing on Männlichen

Cool breeze was blowing and we quickly zipped up our jackets. Walking out of the cableway station, we took our time enjoying the magnificent view of the surroundings. It was a wonderful feeling to be up so high looking down and we could not capture enough of its beauty with a camera. One must be there to truly experience its awesomeness!

Day2_MannlichenLookingDown
Standing over a railing and looking down at the edge of the mountain

We were hyped for our journey ahead and eager to start off our hike! Our footsteps were light as we walked merrily, heading towards the other side where we could get a better view of the Alps. At this moment, we realised that the crowd which was with us had completely dispersed and was out of sight. Wow! Were they walking really fast or were we lost in time while admiring the scenery?

As we walked, we were constantly snapping photos of the surroundings and at one another. Every angle looked so beautiful and it seemed we could easily fill up our camera’s memory card just by snapping photos here! Haha, it must be quite embarrassing for us to get excited but well, this was our first time in Switzerland so can’t blame us for quickly falling in love with it right? ^^

AtMannlichenTop

When we gradually got over the euphoric feeling, our rationality reminded us to use the restrooms before setting off, since there are probably no clean toilets from here on till we arrive at Kleine Scheidegg (and we were right, which you will read about it below).

Dar even had a chance to play with a slide before we set off. It must be his first time doing it in such vastness and beautiful surroundings! We also ate bananas to fill us with some energy before we begin.

AtMannlichenStartingTheWalk

Without difficulty, we located the sign of our planned route. There wasn’t a ‘Route #33’ on any of the signs but it was obvious for us to follow the sign towards Kleine Scheidegg, which would take around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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Began Walking Trail

It was 11.45am when we finally began our hike. Just after 5 minutes and 100 metres later, we took a break (so fast? ^^|). It was not for resting, but was because we had spotted a patch of ‘whiteness’ amongst the vast greenery.

“Is that snow?” We asked ourselves.

As we got closer, we confirmed our suspicion and although part of the snow patch was rather dirty, we couldn’t help inched nearer and even stepped on it, taking care not to slip on the wet and slippery surface.

We didn’t expect to see snow at Männlichen as we thought in summer, we could only find them higher up in the Alps. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise for us, especially when this was (*drum rolls*) the first time we had encountered snow in our entire lives! Dar was fascinated with it and picked some up in his hands.

Day2_MannlichenHikePhoto02

We continued on after having a little fun.

Although the walking trail was described as a gentle and easy path for most people, we didn’t expect to encounter a father who had brought along his two daughters, the elder around the age of Dar while the younger was probably slightly more than a year old and was pushed on a stroller! We admired his courage but did not think it was a wise choice to bring and handle two young children all by himself for hikes.

Anyway, our hike was of tremendous joy and enjoyment as we chatted and walked leisurely, admiring the views of valleys and the Alps on our left, with the mountains Tschuggen and Lauberhorn on our right. We would stop often at good locations for photos, making sure we could remember our memorable hike.

Day2_MannlichenHikeScenery01

Sudden Downpour

Unfortunately, things did not turn out as well. Soon after, we spotted some dark clouds ahead of us.

Just after 25 minutes of walking, rain started to pour and we quickly took out our waterproof parkas to cover ourselves. We noticed most of the hikers there were well prepared too as they rushed to put on theirs. The father strapped his little girl to himself and quickly covered them with raincoats. The toddler was not pleased and kept crying.

Since we were already somewhere in the middle of the trail, we could only continue to venture forward, hoping to find shelter ahead. The little girl was furiously crying ahead of us in the rain, breaking the peacefulness of the surroundings.

After twenty minutes of walking in the rain which got much bigger, we saw some hikers climbing up a rather steep slope towards a building in a distance. It appeared to be a cableway station. We detoured a little further ahead to find a more gentle slope there before climbing up, since the ground is wet and we were not wearing hiking boots (though our shoes have rather good traction).

When we finally made it to the cableway station, we were relieved and wiped ourselves with tissues and a small hand towel to dry ourselves. Looking around, we discovered it was actually an abandoned station.

We were not alone at the station as several other hikers were seeking shelter there too. The father with the two daughters were there, busy calming down his younger daughter who had been crying all the way since the rain started. Poor girl must have been cold and frightened. (That’s why the walking trails are not really suitable for toddlers unless one can ensure good weather).

We then took out the food we had brought along — bread, peanut butter jam and sausages which we could make sandwiches with. The other hikers were also taking this chance to eat their sandwiches. Our preparation for the hike was rewarded as we ate our lunch and watched the rain continued heavily. It sure was good to have some food in our stomach to battle against the cold winds blowing at us (the station had only pillars with no walls to block the wind).

Day2_Mannlichen Walking Trail Lunch

After finishing our food and waiting for the rain to stop, Dar suddenly looked at us and said softly, “Daddy, I need to pass motion…”

That got us nervous as this abandoned station did not appear to have any such facilities. It looked like we might have to find a bush or something for him. However, this would be tough as it was still raining.

Still, that appeared to be the only way out at that time and thus, I held his hand and walked out of the station to look for a suitable spot.

As we walked on, we noticed a small structure at the bottom of the slope which looked like portable toilets! “Is this going to be our lucky day?” I smiled as we quickened our pace towards them.

They were portable toilets alright and there were two of them. Both were vacant. We opened one of them but had to close the door quickly, disgusted by the sight and smell! Our hearts sank a bit as we walked slowly towards the other toilet, preparing for the worst. True enough, the condition of the other toilet was just as horrible! I doubt anyone had been maintaining those toilets for a long time!

I looked at Dar. And he looked back at me. He quickly shook his head as I signalled if he wanted to relieve himself in any of these two toilets.

Well, looks like we would need to stick to our original ‘dig-a-hole’ plan then.

Suddenly, Dar tugged my arm gently and said he needn’t go any more. Oh? Did his tummy ache went away miraculously? Or had the disgusting sights we just witnessed turned him off completely? I guess he would rather endure the discomfort until we found a much more comfortable toilet.

The Last 45 Minutes 

Anyway, we headed back to Cat and told her of our experiences. She too was surprised at the condition of the makeshift toilets.

It was around 1pm when the rain got slightly smaller. We didn’t want to waste time in our exploration and decided to move on towards Kleine Scheidegg in search of better toilets, in case his tummy start to ache again.

Day2_Mannlichen Walking Trail LastPart

Even though the scenery continued to be breathtaking along the rest of our hike, we weren’t in the mood to admire them anymore. Our casual hike suddenly transformed into one that was rushed as we quickened our pace, despite the wet and muddy trail.

The rain started getting heavier again after ten minutes of walking. Dar had a good parka and thick pants so he was fine but our foldable windbreaker was not thick enough to protect from heavy droplets of rain. Our hair got wet and droplets of water trickled down our face. We knew we had to get to our destination as soon as possible. (regretted not bringing along umbrellas )

The trail felt like it was never-ending as we crossed over multiple turns, every time hoping to spot our end-point, only to feel disappointed again and again. Dar was a good boy and never once complained throughout the entire hike but kept up with us and walked relatively fast.

Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime of walking up and down gradual slopes and muddy paths (although only 30 minutes had passed), we saw a well-built (= comfortable toilets?) house located behind a huge rock, with Kleine Scheidegg visible in the far background!

AtMannlichenRest

As we walked towards the building, we kept hoping there were clean toilets. Standing in front of it, we were glad to see that it was a restaurant! Not because we were hungry, but our hopes of it having a clean toilet suddenly seemed much likely to be fulfilled!

A sign was on a door leading to the toilets in the restaurant requesting non-customers who wished to use the toilets to pay a small fee. We were more than happy to pay the toll to the staff and made our way down the stairs to the toilets.

As we had wished, the toilets were well-maintained and clean! After the ‘mission’ was accomplished, we could finally catch a breather and check out the surroundings. There was quite a crowd of diners in the restaurant and from the windows, we could see that the scenery from this restaurant was gorgeous, overseeing the Alps!

Nevertheless, we didn’t want to spend more time in the restaurant since we had already wasted quite a bit of time seeking shelter at the cableway station earlier. We started making our way towards Klein Scheidegg in the rain again and arrived at its train station after another 10 mins walk. By this time, we were actually quite wet and cold.

There were some souvenir shops near the station so we crossed over the road to explore. A number of things interest us but many of them were labeled with ‘Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe’. Since we had not taken the Jungfraubahn up to the Jungfraujoch railway station yet (we were still deciding whether to go then), it would be strange to buy them before then.

We could always buy them again after we have made that trip, we thought to ourselves, and left the shops empty-handed. We then took the train down to our next destination – Lauterbrunnen to see the waterfalls.

Overall, we took around 2 hours to complete the walking trail, including time lost seeking shelter in the rain. We were really walking fast for that last 30 minutes which could have been an hour’s stroll if the weather was good.

{ Next Post: Spectacular Trummelbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen }