Interlaken is a small, modern town nestled between the twin lakes of Brienz and Thun in central Switzerland. Surrounded by the imposing beauty of the Alps, it’s easy to get lost in the surreal scenery; so for two days in June 2017, that’s exactly what I intended to do.
I wish I could say that I managed to make the most of my time here, but the truth is I really didn’t get the chance. A prior injury to my knee made prolonged walking difficult, and as per usual the weather was simply abysmal. Not the ideal time to find myself in the middle of one of the hiking capitals of the continent. Alas, I had no choice but to take it easy, so spent the morning of my only full day here getting spectacularly lost on the hike up to the Harderkulm viewpoint.
It is perhaps worth noting that my version of “taking it easy” probably equates to most people’s version of “a full-on and tiring day”. The hike up the mountainside took me just over two hours, as expected, and I was lucky to manage to avoid the rain that had been predicted for the morning. The views all the way up were just breathtaking – you could see straight out across the lakes to the mountains either side, as well as glimpse the snow-capped peaks back to the south.
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and the weather soon caught up with me. I spent about 45 minutes at the summit, most of which I spent desperately attempting to salvage a time-lapse taken on the unexpectedly wobbly viewing platform (my knuckles were white from how tightly I was gripping my camera, strapped precariously to the railings by my Joby Gorillapod, 1,322 metres above the ground).
In the distance of this incredible panorama I could see the rain clouds moving closer, and the incoming downpours starting to fall across the town below. I hurriedly snapped a panoramic picture on my iPhone 6S, stowed my Nikon back in my bag, and headed for the cable car that would get me back off the mountain.
I ended up walking back down, of course, partly because I thought the equivalent of £16 was too much to pay for a ten-minute one-way journey, and partly because I didn’t actually have any Swiss Francs on me and the cable car operated a cash-only ticket system. The rain was showing no signs of easing, so for this portion of the journey, my GoPro was needed.
It’s an old one, a Hero 3 that I’ve had for four years now, but the waterproof casing still works a treat – just a pity none of the pictures were any good. I think when this one inevitably gives up the ghost I’ll invest in the Hero 5 – a screen on the back would be invaluable, as it’s so difficult to get a great shot when you can’t see where the camera’s pointing.
By the time I made it back off the mountainside, around an hour and a half after I set off from Harderkulm, I was drenched to the bone. Despite the trees of the surrounding forest offering some shelter from the rain, I had still managed to become soaking wet, and was incredibly grateful for the free hot drinks my hostel offered upon return.
Thus, my time in Interlaken followed in what seems to be an establishing pattern: I get stuck in rain, I don’t get as many pictures as I wanted; I don’t have my telephoto lens, I don’t get as many pictures as I wanted; I face time constraints, I don’t get as many pictures as I wanted.
Hopefully I can break this curse soon, but for now, I don’t mind adding this town to my list of places to return to. After all, I had a whole day of hiking routes planned out that I didn’t manage to use.
To read more about my time here in Switzerland, check out my other blog.