Hiking Up Harder Klum (1322m without food and water!)
15 June 2015 Harder Kulm, 3800 Unterseen, Switzerland
"It's about a 2 hour hike. Don't give up!" That's what the hotel staff said when we asked about hiking up Harder Klum in Interlaken, Switzerland.
After my paragliding experience, I met up with my friend and we headed for Harder Klum.
I didn't have any food or water with me (nor my DSLR) because the "smart" me brought as little as possible to the glide. The hostel was not on the way, and Sheryl didn't want us to walk all the way back, and so we headed for Harder Klum. In my head I was thinking, "I can totally survive without water for 2 hours. Besides there is a restaurant at the peak with a view. I can eat and drink there."
And so we began our climb.
Judging from the fact that I brought nothing with me, and thought a "2 hour climb" really meant 2 hours up a mountain of 1322m, you can probably conclude that that was my virgin hiking experience.
At the start of the climb, everything went well. The hike was moderately fun in fact. Walking through trees, gripping on vines and barks to hoist ourselves through the short cuts, and getting an even more amazing view each step we took. It was all novel, and exciting.
Most importantly, my Timberlands was not giving me any problems!
20 minutes later, we stopped for our first rest break and pictures, and were surprised that we weren't even half way through, because it felt like we had been climbing for an hour!
The stopping and expecting ourselves to be near the top repeated for the next hour and a half. Each time getting more agonizing than the previous.
Although it was tiring, I felt fine stamina wise, because of my experience with dance. So I'd expect to be able to make it up within the said 2 hours.
Unfortunately, at the 2 hour mark, we weren't still no where the top, slightly lost with an unreliable offline map, and I had developed 4 blisters on each feet (because my timberlands were wider that my foot - skinny feet issues). It was horrible.
Despite having the stamina to go on, the pain made the climb a lot less bearable.
By this time, Sheryl and I had finished the last drop of water in her bottle and we were both hungry (it was over 5 hours since we last ate).
We decided to look up to googlemaps to see if the restaurant at the top was open. To be honest, we were more interested in how to get ourselves up there because my offline map was being confusing.
That was when it happened.
"It's closed" she told me.
I could have died. And I probably died on the inside more than once.
The hotel staff, my paragliding guide, the lady we asked for directions, none of them told us the restaurant was closed. My glider even said it would be a nice view after all that hard work.
As expected, connection several hundred meters above ground was not good, and we couldn't be sure if the restaurant indicated "closed" was the one at the peak. In addition to that, we were much closer to the top than the bottom; so we decided to just head all the way up.
It took us about another 20-30 minutes to get to the top (but it felt like 2 hours with 4 burgeoning blisters). Finally we made it up.
The view was GLORIOUS. It was magnificent, amazing, and -inserts every synonym for the word wondrous-.
But my heart stopped. Not because of the view, but because IT REALLY WAS CLOSED.
There we were. Dehydrated. Starved. With no sign of any food and water, having to climb back down 1322m before reaching civilisation.
I started looking for a toilet, or a tap, basically any kind of water producing equipment. But there was none. So after a few photos, feeling extremely dejected (and me in pain), we headed back down.
Having blisters makes walking down so MUCH WORSE. It was probably a 100x worse than climbing up. I was in pain to the point Sheryl and I stopped talking and just focused on getting our butts down from that mountain.
Every step over an exposed root, slippery leave covered half cracked rock, or any uneven surface was like a stab in the foot. Seeing as I was starved and dehydrated, I had no energy to utter a complain, because there was no other option but to get down.
At the top of the mountain Sheryl told me "Let's aim to get down in an hour." I said ok, but in my head I was like "Hah! Not happening. My feet are being burdens right now." Much to my surprise, we apparently got down in slightly over an hour! It didn't feel like it, but it was.
At the foot of the mountain we walked through a small village like town, and came to this gorgeous blue river, with a nice modern house on one bank and over grown trees on another. Ducks were swimming happily in the pond, and there were families chilling my the edge of the river. It was a lovely end to the hike.
But of course, the greatest part was drowning out body in fluids and sitting down for an early dinner, whilst discussing about what we had just put ourselves through.
I've always heard stories of how people hike for over 5 hours and I thought, well if so many people can do I'm sure I can... Right? No. Not true.
Here are the 3 lessons I've learned from this hike:
1) Always bring food!
2) Having stamina does not mean being able to hike.
3) Also, I am not Reese Witherspoon in Wild. My feet do not cooperate with Timberland Boots.
Oh and blisters are THE DEVIL.
I have so much respect for hikers after this experience, especially the older people who just climb up like it's a piece of cake (we saw quite a few as we were going up) and I don't know if I'll hike again anytime soon.
I'm glad for this experience... but truth be told, it has probably deterred me from hiking anytime in the near future.
Then again, never say never. Because THE VIEW AT THE TOP, IS BREATHTAKING.
Anyway, if I ever do hike again, I'm going on Nike sports shoes and bringing lots of food and water!
If you happen to be in Interlaken, Switzerland, and you're looking for an adventure, go ahead and climb up Harder Klum. Just don't do it on a Sunday!
Photos taken on my iPhone 6