Since I’d posted a public trip on Couchsurfing letting locals know we were coming to the Interlaken area, I received a message from a local guy named Syril, inviting us to join a hiking/camping trip he was planning with a couple other members who’d be traveling through the area. He gave me the link to his event, and it sounded pretty incredible: “This will be a trip you will remember all your life: Nothing is more beautiful then walking through the nature under a sky full of stars above a sea of lights of the Swiss villages. It’s a breath taking ambiance to hike the mountains at night.” Amanda and I were thrilled at the idea of hiking the Swiss Alps, as that was our main reason for visiting Switzerland, but we were a bit skeptical of camping in -5°C as we weren’t equipped for any sort of camping at all. Syril assured us that he had backpacks & tents we could use, and he’d even organize rental sleeping bags that would be warm enough. Sounded good enough to us!
Wednesday morning we met Syril and the others at the train station, bought groceries, and headed to Syril’s to make sandwiches. Syril lives in Spiez, in the heart of the Alps, with one of the best views I’ve ever seen from a kitchen window. Aside from Amanda and I, there were two other Couhsurfing members coming: Neeta (from Finland) and Thomas (also from California). Both were traveling solo as well.
We finished making sandwiches and packing our backpacks and hopped in Syril’s car to get to the start of the hike. We’d be hiking Stockhorn, a popular mountain for tourists, which many people take cable car up, but very few actually hike to. We soon found out why. To call the beginning of the hike ‘exhausting’ would be an understatement. There were steep climbs, sometimes of slippery mud, that we had to trek through, and though it was only a few degrees out, we had all stripped down to T-Shirts within minutes. It would have been a difficult ascent for us normally, but wearing a huge backpack packed to the brim with a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, warm clothes, food & water, made it one of the most difficult climbs Amanda and I had ever done.
After a few hours we reached a spot where we could see the lake we’d be camping near, and the peak of Stockhorn mountain, which we still had to climb. We stopped to eat lunch while we were still in the sun and hid our backpacks behind some trees near the lake before continuing up.
Though we’d been stopping for photo ops the whole way up, when we reached the top of Stockhorn mountain, we were simply at a loss for words. We’d climbed above the clouds and could see the snowy peaks of other Alps peaking out all around us. Every angle surprised us with a different but equally breathtaking view.
Since the last cable car down from Stockhorn was about an hour before sunset, all the tourists left, leaving us the only ones on the mountain. As we watched the sky turn pink and the sun sink beneath the sea of clouds, we hung out and soaked in the incredibly unreal scenery. Thomas even Facetimed his mom… (Sorry family, I had no service!)
It was tough to leave the beautiful view, but after the sun set, the temperature began to drop rapidly, so we hurried back down to the lake to set up our tent. Though it had rained the day before, the others somehow managed to get a fire going, and we roasted sausages and s’mores (with delicious Swiss chocolate!) for dinner before heading into our comfy down-stuffed sleeping bags for the night.
At some point in the night, the moisture in the air inside our tent froze, creating little crystals along the top. With the warmth of the sun in the morning, the frost began to melt, and it literally began to rain in our tent! If there was any chance of sleeping in, that got us up and out of there pretty quickly. Syril and Neeta took a brisk wake-up swim in the lake while the rest of us made more s’mores for breakfast, before we set off to trek back down the mountain.
Amanda and I may have had no idea what we were in for from the start, but the beautiful alpine scenery combined with the enjoyable company surely made for a camping trip we’ll never forget.
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌