A Long Weekend in the Berner Oberland: Sefinental

After hiking up to Gimmelwald, we headed Kilchbalm through the Sefinental (Sefinen Valley). In the first section of the trail we were high above the teal-blue Sefinen Lütschine (river). Every so often we would cross small bridges with alpine spring water rushing down through cut-out rocks to the river below.  There were also plenty of very shallow rocky streams we could simply step over or get across with a hop on a rock or two. We met a lot of other hikers early in the afternoon, but as the trail branched to alternative destinations the road became quieter and quieter. Maybe half way in, we passed a man in a plaid shirt with a small red truck carrying an axe.  To the right of him were massive tree trunks and to the left a pile of rough, but pretty uniform fence stakes. We slowly descended to river level where we came to face a massive unmelted snow sheet covering a 200 meter stretch of the river. The river entered the great white tunnel on one end and rushed out the other. We couldn’t make sense of what was causing this particular section to remain snow covered? We continued on reaching an open field with a single wooden house.  It looked to have been a hunting lodge at some point, but was now abandoned.  Gleb entered, but the house’s interior really creeped me out.  Everything was utterly filthy and old except for a single shiny new cream colored cabinet that sat on a shelf on a windowless wall. Gleb wanted to eat lunch on the porch. I refused.  We compromised and had our sandwiches and tea across that field clearing on a large rock overlooking the river with plenty of distance from that house. That was also when we saw the last set of hikers in the Sefinental.  Three of them were turning up a trail leading out of the valley. It was difficult to see up out of the high valley rock walls where they could be headed. We then crossed a tree trunk bridge over some rapids.  Two strong streams merged at this point to make the Sefinen Lütschine. Between these two waterways a coniferous forest with lots of mosses grew. The trail kept ascending with rock ladders and slowly snow patches emerged. Then suddenly there were no more trees. Just boulders and the 3437 m peak of Gspaltenhorn ahead.  We had reached Kilchbalm.

starting on our trail through the Sefinental
streams of spring water falling from the valley’s walls
an adorable poetic call to keep the forest in order and clean
Gleb found a resting place


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a rushing mountain spring
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the creepy abandoned lodge
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spring water passes
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a small pine tree growing from a rock
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snow starting to fill the trails ahead
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