Time: 7.5h. Up: 680m. Down: 1920m.
Distance: 19.5km. Difficulty: medium.

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Stage 29: Engstlenalp (1834m) to Meiringen (595m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

Yet another long hike today, this time with a pronounced emphasis on descent. After an initial quick climb, for the next several hours you'll follow a high ridge trail with beautiful panoramic views over several huge, deep valleys until at last you zigzag down into the town of Meiringen (any guesses at the derivation?) far below.

Meiringen looks very different from the other Swiss towns and villages that you have seen on the H2H: more Belle Époque than Alpine village. The reason? Massive fires in 1879 and 1891 that destroyed the center of the old town.

The fires were caused by a hot dry southern wind called Föhn (similar to the Santa Ana winds of Southern California), which is common in many parts of the Alps. It is no coincidence that the same word is used for a hairdryer: a strong Föhn can raise temperatures by up to 20C, blow at up to 150km/hr, and last for days during which even the smallest spark tends to become a roaring fire. The Haslital, in which Meiringen lays, is particularly prone to these winds, but, since they are much more common in winter than in summer, with a little luck they won't blow while you are there.

As to the derivation of "Meiringen", it probably was originally “Meier-ing”, i.e., where the family “Meier” lived. Ho-hum, yes, but wait: in this case the name is interesting for another reason -- as the source for “meringue”, the delightfully fluffy sweet. An Italian pastry-chef named Gasparini is said to have invented meringues while working in Meiringen during the 17th Century. Looks like dessert is decided for tonight!

Take the path to the north of the Engstlenalp hotel (away from the road), which shortly curves round to head west. At the next fork head right up to Tannalp (1974m), then from there southwest several hundred meters along the farm road to the Tannensee. Climb slowly away from the lake to the southwest along the Erzegg ridge to Blameregg (2155m) and then further via Ober- (1831m) and Understafel (1628m), Oberegg (1317m), and Reuti (1061m), before descending at the end of the day into Meiringen.

Alternatives: if the weather is bad take the half-height route, which is shorter, and safer because it avoids the exposure of the ridge. It starts off the like the main route, but instead of taking the right-hand fork to Tannalp, go to the left. The path then slowly descends through Baumgarten, Underbalm, and Hinderarni to Reuti, where you rejoin the main route (saves 2h, +/-560m). You can also shorten the end of the day further by taking the cable car down from Reuti to Meiringen (saves 1h, -460m).
Map: ST-255T Sustenpass.

The House to House blog... stage 29.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: picnic.
Dinner and overnight: there are many restaurants and places to stay in Meiringen (for a complete list, see here).

Getting There and Back
Engstlenalp: from Meiringen you can take one of the infrequent buses to Engstlenalp (about 1h).
Meiringen: there is a railway station here (for both bus and train schedule information, see the SBB).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on Engstlenalp, centered on Meiringen.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...
Aareschlucht and timing.

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