Oscar and Cathy are in Europe, imbibing the views and ambience of northern France, and we've talked them into linking up with us in Switzerland before going home. Grindelwald has been suggested as a suitable venue.
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
We're checked into our hotel, and we're waiting to meet Cathy and Oscar's train at the Grindelwald rail station, 8 June 2014.
We're booked into the Hotel Cabana, splendid . . .
. . . nice people, good breakfast, nice room, with patio . . .
. . . staring up at the Eiger.
The Eiger Nordwand at the centre-right, more or less a side-on view.
And as we patio-ize self-indulgently with products of the Champagne region of France brought along by Cathy and Oscar, we're watching the tourist train winding up from Grindelwald Grund to Kleine Scheidegg on the ridge up on the right.
Late afternoon avalanches on the Eiger
After a very satisfactory dinner at the Hotel Spinne, the next morning we're on our way for our Hike of the Day.
Cathy, Kristin, and Oscar on the way to the skilift up the hill, 9 July 2014.
Grindelwald is a far prettier town than I remembered it to be, from visits over the years, and seems to have handled the mixed blessings of a tourist economy as well as might be. With an unemployment rate of 1.5%, somebody's doing something right.
The Wetterhorn in the background.
My only doubt about Grindelwald is that 55% of the population vote Swiss People's Party, and another 15% vote for its slightly-less-far-right spin-off, the Conservative Democratic Party. The "Liberals" and the Greens account for another 16%; Wikipedia doesn't show any support for the Parti socialiste at all.
This is a view from the télécabine up to First (expensive!, but oh well, of course it's expensive here), featuring the landscape of our forthcoming walk.
The top télécabine station at First (2166m)
The Bachalpsee Expedition of 9 June 2014
The First télécabine, with the Schreckhorn in the centre background
Oscar unlimbering his camera as we get started on our walk
We begin with a walk up to the Bachalpsee, or Bachsee, for the views.
Grindelwald (1034m) below us, and a paraglider in mid-paraglide
That's where we'll be walking in a little while, through the hamlet of Bachläger -- and the Eiger North Wall in the background.
The lift station at First
Mountain scenery roundabout
Cathy and Oscar, and the Wetterhorn
Kristin striding briskly
A first look at the Bachsee -- the Simelihorn (2765m) looms behind.
A pause for photos (photo by Oscar)
That's Oscar (photo by Dwight)
The lower part of the Bachalpsee
The carrefour -- the Bachalpsee, aka the Bachsee, 2271m
The upper part of the Bachsee
A popular spot on the fine day
Ice on the lake
The lower part is 6m down from the spillway and dam on the upper part of the Bachalpsee
To the dam
Checking out the upper lake
Checking out the rest of Switzerland
Our plan is now to walk down one of the two paths descending towards Grindelwald, and it's a fine day for it.
Down we go. "Bach" means a brook or creek, "alp" means a mountain pasture, "see" (in this sense) means a lake, so the name "Bachalpsee" is apparently just generic.
The path down through the Milibach hanging valley
Young Marlowe, then-aged 14, hiked down here in 1999, but on the other path, on the far side of the Milibach valley.
The skilift at First across the way (with parapenters aloft)
Kristin and a helpful little bridge
According to the Swiss topographical map, this place, remarkably, is called "Lengenbalemschopf". Now we can check that off our bucket list.
The skilift at First on the ridge above
The suburb of Bachläger -- the "brook place"
Oscar in downtown Bachläger
First above us
The Milibach is preparing to tumble under the road and drop nearly 200m straight down in two great waterfalls.
The restaurant of Waldspitz ("No pic-nic!!") (1903m). We're stopping briefly for a little 'snacky-poo' (like a big ham sandwich).
Then down a rather precipitous path through the forest . . .
. . . winding back and forth amongst some chalky cliffs . . .
. . . about 300m vertical metres into this little valley.
The Milibach again, at 1596m
And now we're treating ourselves to a knee-conserving télécabine ride to Grindelwald from the intermediate lift station at Bort at 1561m. It's time for drinks on the patio and dinner at the Bahnhof rail station restaurant.
Tomorrow -- the Rosenlaui glacier gorge