One of our daughter’s favorite things about Swiss hiking is how easy it is to take a gondola or cogwheel train up to the high places, walk on relative flat trails, and return easily to our starting place. Zipping easily down the mountain one morning, we donned our rain gear and walked along the valley floor to Trümmelbach Falls. Last September we had missed these casades that tumble down inside the mountain, and we weren’t going to miss them this time.
As people who absolutely love National Parks, we are struck with some similarities between the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Yosemite Valley in terms of the beauty. The differences are equally striking. As we wandered the path towards the falls, we were passing farm after farm with agriculture as well as animals. We ask ourselves if the people who live here day after day, year after year, consider this just normal, when clearly, it is extraordinary. We didn’t knock on any doors to find out, so we’ll just have to keep wondering.
The Falls are not only a work of natural art, but also an engineering feat. Tourists first take a funicular up into about the middle of the ten cascades before being disgorged into the middle of the mountain.
We particularly enjoyed the banter with the funicular operator who inquired as to the main language of people in the lift. He explained that he would not, for example, switch to French if only two people requested it. Most people in our group spoke English, but I opened my mouth and said that I could speak High German, but not Swiss German. He immediately started saying something in Swiss German to us which sounded like – Oh, so it’s the High German you want, eh? Then I counted to five for him in Swiss and he said, I think, “So you speak Walliser Deutsch, eh?” This is the Swiss dialect that every other part of the country agrees is incomprehensible. Even though the laugh was at our expense, we were happy to understand the joke and to laugh along.
Back to the Falls. Even though we were in from the rain, a waterfall is not a place you would consider dry, so our rain gear came in double handy. We walked up wet steps, we peeked out of little balconies, and were amazed and impressed by the sheer amount of water and its speed as it came crashing down through the mountain.