"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
15 June 2015 Harder Kulm, 3800 Unterseen, Switzerland
One my first night in Portugal, I met a lovely german girl whilst having dinner at the hostel. It was her second time back in Lisbon and she was there to visit and catch up with her friends. Over dinner, she shared with the table her previous experience of living and working in Portugal, and also her favourite spots near Lisbon.
I was debating if I should take a day trip out to Sintra, because I was pretty short of time. But that lovely girl insisted that it was her favourite place and that if I didn't have enough time to spend in Sintra, I should just visit the Quinta Da Regaleira. I've read on several blogs, that Sintra is a must visit when in Lisbon, and after hearing what she said, I decided to just go for it.
When you first arrive in Sintra, you'd immediately be charmed by its small town vibe. It has wide cobbled streets with lovely scenery, buildings and trees places together forming an incredible landscape, and since the weather was so kind in Portugal, flowers were blooming. All these could be admired as you take a walk up to the main attractions of Sintra.
I knew I wouldn't have enough time to explore the whole place, so I headed up to Quinta da Regaleira immediately, and decided to go on exploring when I'm done with it.
Quinta da Regaleira is a palace that is located in a HUGE park with several attractions, rock and stone structures, and the most interesting part - underground caves and tunnels that link up to wells.
After paying the entrance fee, I was given a paper map with the most realistic illustrations. I realised my maps on my iPhone did not show the detailed routes of the garden, and so I gave myself an internal motivation talk, and convinced myself I could navigate the park with a paper map.
All went well for the first 10 minutes as I climbed u to the Regaleira Tower, and got the amazing view of the Main house, and the chapel. I even decided to take a couple of photos there because it was a quiet morning with very few people around.
After walking for another 15 minutes, I found myself at an entrance to one of the underground caves. The day before I went to Sintra, another girl from the hostel told me there were some parts she found pretty creepy, and didn't elaborate because she wanted me to have the full experience of the place. When I reached the entrance of the underground cave, did I realise what she meant.
From the pictures it doesn't look as scary. These photos were taken from the outside, and the amount of light in the cave decreases by 10x for each step you take in. According to the map, I had to walk straight through to where the black hole is in the image above.
If there had been other people around, I wouldn't mind walking in. Unfortunately, there was NO ONE in sight. Not a single soul. After taking 10 steps into the cave, I probably creeped myself out, and so I turned and walked out, attempting to find another route.
I couldn't find "another route" and somehow led myself round and round the park. I attempted to read the map, and to stay on the big pathways, but somehow, I ended up walking into an area with trees, and no distinct pathway. It was a stupid decision to bring ankle boots, but well, we all learn from our mistakes.
I passed this pathway probably over three times even though I was taking all sorts of different routes. It was pretty dreadful. Basically whatever that went through my head was, "Where did the path go. Why am I climbing on soil. I feel like Jane from Tarzan. Wait... Is this a dead end?! This map doesn't make sense!! Forget it, i'll just take this main path down. Shit why am I back to where I started?!" But eventually, I found my way, and managed to see both the Unfinished Well and Intrinsic Well. These were wells that go up to 27m deep into the ground, and looking up from the bottom you feel as though you're trapped, or about to levitate up to heaven. It could be either-or.
These wells were what stands out to most people, and both wells were connected by the deep dark underground caves. I took the underground cave from one well to another, because it was a relatively short path, but man, it was wet, and completely PITCH BLACK in those caves. If not for the fact there were more people in this part of the cave, i'd be pretty scared.
Walking through another stretch of the underground caves brought me to this part of the park, which had a nice structure and a wide space in front of it where parents and children were just running around. It's a nice place for a picnic spot to take a rest amidst all the climbing. But rest is for the weak, so I continued on. Besides, I was looking for the Waterfall.
WHAT I WOREThe waterfall happened to be at the exit of another stretch of the underground caves, and somehow, I managed to find my way there. It was a small waterfall, but a VERY pretty one, where you could walk across the waters by stepping on the individual stones. Of course, this part of the park was teeming with tourists.
Coat - Coldwear.sg / Bag - Gap / Jeans - Primark / Top - Thailand / Shoes - Ecco
By this time, I had probably and hour left, and decided that I should head to the main house, and have a walk through it before leaving the park. I pretty much figured out how to get my way back, and so following the main route on the map brought me back to the Chapel and the Main Palace - Quinta da Regaleira.
The mansion was nice, and in the rooms they had a history of the place, architectural drawings and lots of other exhibitions, it was a nice way to conclude the end of the morning spent in Quinta da Regaleira. Walking back to the train station, from Quinta da Regaleira, I got such a wonderful view of Sintra. The place is beautiful from both ground and above. I love the orangey-brown roofs of the buildings, and all the greenery that surrounds it.
I was so glad I went to Sintra even if it was just for a couple of hours!
Quinta da Regaleira
Getting There: CP Train from Lisbon - 40 minutes ride
Entrance fee: 4 Euros (student price)
Approx. Time Spent: 3-4 hours
If you're ever going to Lisbon, remember to set aside at least 1 day for Sintra! There is so much more to seed in the area apart from Quinta da Regaleira; quirky stalls, and lovely shops lined along cobbled stone streets, I wish I had more time to explore! Well, I guess its a reason to go back to Portugal someday, and hopefully not get lost again.
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