In which we start the hiking season as early as we possibly can, with the longest route we've done to date.
After a long bout of annoyingly restrictive winter bugs this year, it’s a relief to be healthy again, just in time for the arrival of the first mild weather of Spring. There is still a fair amount of snow on the mountains near us, and a wet, cold spell over the beginning of the Easter weekend meant that there was fresh snow on the ground down to around 800 metres above sea level. But bank holiday Monday began sunny and clear, so we decided to dust off our hiking gear and stretch our legs for the first time this year.
The walk we chose started from home and led us up across the lake-side slopes to Meielisalp. The small hotel is just about visible in the distance from our balcony and neighbours had encouraged us to walk there after Jo did so last year. It turned out to be a long but relatively gentle route over 8.8 km, ascending past Güetital and Krattigen and gaining around 400 metres in altitude through the mud and snow in Buechwald forest.
The final leg tested our nerve more than our muscles, when we had to cross the 60-metre-high suspension bridge above Meielisalp. It’s one of several which are planned around Lake Thun, to enable hikers to walk the circuit of the lake without needing to descend into – or weave around – the larger gorges.
A salad on the hotel terrace topped up our energy levels, before the 2.5 km walk down to the train station in Leissigen.
Once back in Spiez – thanks to a lack of regularly-stopping trains to Faulensee – we tromped the last 2.6 km stage home through the back roads. The walk turned out to be the longest one I’ve done thus far, aching my leg muscles nicely and setting us up for the coming hiking season, whilst providing panoramic views across our home region to the snow-capped peaks we’ll visit later in the year.