“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin
There are few places in this world that when upon simply mentioning their name, nostalgia creeps in and regardless of time or place, we can find ourselves instantly transcended back to that magical spot. Few locations have left such a lasting impression on us that their magic continues to shine even years after we have visited.
One such place is Obersteinberg, Switzerland. This modest Alpine Hut sits perched on a cliff overlooking some of the most serene and grand alpine peaks this county beholds. The first time we hiked to this destination, we were speechless upon arrival. With our backpacks digging into our shoulders, a bit of sweat covering our brows, we simply stood in utter stillness taking it all in. There are no distractions – nothing except peeks of snow-covered mountains, sounds of utter quietness, views that change with each passing moment and a chance to be above it all.
No cars, no streets, no computers, no modern technologies, no distractions – just you, nature and a hut that provides the weary bodies of hikers and travelers a safe refuge to sleep, eat and rise once more to do it all over again. The provisions are basic – no heat, no electricity and no running water except for the communal bathrooms, but for the exhausted hiker, the accommodations are grand luxury.
The simplicity of the location and beauty truly symbolizes what it is to live. An honest to goodness hard working, pure existence, one, which no scrap of food is wasted, heat is a desire rather than a necessity and sleep is cherished. And with two trips under our belts prior to having children, we longed to return. But see, this thing happens when you become a parent – your own needs and desires are flushed out for the health and well being of your newest addition(s). We wanted to return but to access Obersteinberg you must hike. A hike that is roughly 2.5 hours mostly uphill and is only accessible by foot, helicopter or mule…
The thought of taking little ones to such a remote location seemed a bit frightening to us, especially with the primitive amenities as we mentioned above. Maybe we are parental wimps, but we thought we would save such treks for those years when our children are older, able to walk independently and a bit more hardy to withstand blustery nights.
But then that thing happens. An idea is born and sprouts in the back of your mind and pings night and day like a small little ball against a backboard…
ping – go!
ping – you must go!
ping – you need to go!
ping, ping, ping.
We didn’t need to stay overnight, we just needed to get back there, to hike those trails, breathe that air and see that place that had called to us for a few years. We could compromise on the sleep, but not the views. We could withstand exhaustion if we could just put foot on that incredible spot.
That ping became a nuisance really; the constant conversations with myself and that burning desire that fueled the fire within, but can quickly burn out when reality sets in.
So, I thought and I schemed up an idea and the only person I needed to convince, beside myself was Robert. “What if we went back to Mürren for a long weekend and well, um, maybe took a slight… little… day trip to epic Obersteinberg?” It didn’t take much convincing, just a favorable forecast and an available hotel in Mürren and we were off. Ping – mission accomplished, well, almost.
The first day we decided to take it easy. We meandered through the car free town, allowed our children to be children playing in the fresh alpine air and frolicking through slow hikes. The next morning we woke with that glimmer of excitement and a touch of fear in our eyes. Time to go we thought. We ate a hearty breakfast, got the children ready and made mental preparations for the day ahead.
We took the gondola down the mountain, boarded a bus and from there relied on our feet and ambition to carry us (and our children) the rest of the way. Magic we thought…this place is epic and we are off to remember the captivating beauty that sits high in those mountains.
We made the journey up the mountain in roughly three hours with two children tethered to our backs, weighing in at a whopping 20+ pounds and 35+ pounds, a small day-pack and plenty of stops. Stops for water, stops to admire the views, stops to reminisce on the past, stops to adjust a sleeping baby, and stops to pet a rouge cow or two. Upon our arrival we paused, we smiled, we took a moment between childhood demands to take it all in. For us, it was a moment of wonder, a parental moment of Zen. We had made it and the beauty of the place we had held so fondly in our minds eye for all those years was still as pristine, captivating and magical as we had remembered. We each took time to explore on our own, free of children and distractions. We snapped pictures, took deep breathes and smiled proud of our almost foolish accomplishment, but more to just admire the tranquility that stretched out before us.
We rewarded ourselves with fresh alpine cheese, homemade cake, a quick coffee and headed back down before the weather turned colder and we turned cranky from exhaustion. There were still miles to go, buses to catch, gondolas to board and babies to feed. We talked on the way down as our son embarked on his first ever-alpine hike (we were so proud) about whether we thought we were totally bad-ass parents for our efforts or simply stupid.
The verdict was still out, as we had yet to make our way safely back to the hotel. Another conversation we had on the way back was what time the final gondola went up the mountain for the night. A wave of panic flushed over me, but Robert convinced me not to worry. At that point, I was too tired from carrying our daughter for the last 5+ hours to even consider hiking back up to Mürren, but thankfully, our connections were seamless.
That night we ate a picnic dinner in our room and made a premature, much deserved date with our beds. Despite achy shoulders, stiff backs and sore feet, we were delighted in our decision to go.
See, life is short, what if we waited until our children were finally at that perfect age and we still couldn’t go for one reason or another? If there are places in this world that still captivate you, that you long to return, maybe it is time to pay them a visit. We have several other places in this world (or of this world we have seen thus far) that we still hold close to our hearts…who knows maybe we will pay them a visit in the near future as well. There is always More2Explore!
Time of Year: September
Duration: Long Weekend
Where We Stayed: Mürren
Eats and Treats: Alpine Cheese and Homemade Cake
Child Friendly? Yes, if you keep your children close by, like strapped to your back or tethered on a harness…
Likes: Views, Mountain Hut, Hiking, did we say views?
Dislikes: Shoulder pain from carrying our little ones
Would we return? Absolutely!
Alpine Addicts Slideshow