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Overnight on First and sunrise photography

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6 posts
new member
Nov 25, 2019 - 9:55 PM

Hi guys,

Here's my experience on First after every day-time visitor has left this place.

See my previous post here (questions for the itinerary)

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/overnight-stay-on-first-grindelwald


After receiving the advice from other members, I decided to do it (my husband didn't know where we would travel to as it was a secret gift from me. I planned everything by myself).

On that day, we checked out at our hotel in Wengen(Apenrose Wengen hotel is an excellent hotel when it comes to value, service, maintenance, food, almost everything ^_^). We left our luggage there and only brought a backpack and a camera vest mostly stuffed with camera gears.

As you probably know, if you rent a bike at one location and return at another location, there will be a CHF 10 fee charged per bike. I decided to rent the bikes in Grindelwald and took them onto the cable car to First. For two reasons: to save CHF 20 and I wanted to bike down to Grindelwald the next day (last year, we had an amazing bike ride in Wengen that left me with a desire to do another one this year).

I booked a private room at Berggasthaus First. I reconfirmed with the cable car company that we could bring the bikes on the cable car. Everything was arranged smoothly.

However, when we were there. We talked to the staff at Intersport rental, we realized that e-bikes aren't allowed on the cable cars due to their heavy weights. When the cable car company replied to my email, they confirmed for the regular bikes without mentioning about the e-bikes. And it was my mistake to think that bikes are bikes even if they have different designs/attached equipments.

At this point, we tried to switch the pickup location to First but there was no bikes available up there. So we had no other choices but to bike up. We are not active bikers, neither hikers. So biking up was really a challenge for me, my husband seemed to take it better than I did. We stopped by a bakery on the edge of the town, the food was pretty good and gave us an energy boost before our adventure started. It was after 3 pm when we started the biking. We followed the staff's instruction (follow the sign to Grosse Scheidegg) but we ended up being on the hiking path and at some point, couldn't go further as it led to a staircase-like path into the woods. We had to turn back to the town and were able to talk to a couple resting on the side road. They looked at their paper map and told us that we could take the bus # 128 to Grosse Scheidegg and it would leave at 4:00 something pm. They were very nice although their English was limited.

We decided to stop by the cable car to try our luck. It was almost their closing time so perhaps, there would be less people going up and therefore, they would let us go up on one car each to reduce the loading weight. But they wouldn't do it (we totally understand their concern). I asked them about the bus but the woman who greeted me said that the last bus left the town already. Honestly, I felt disappointed and exhausted.

We came back to the shop and was instructed again. This time, we were on the correct road. It was so hard for me to bike up even with the support of the e-bike and there were 3 legs for us to go which usually takes 90 minutes (for other bikers). I was about to give up but my husband told me to keep trying, we could always come back to the town if we couldn't do it anymore and coming back would be much easier. My husband is a very positive person and I had more support to keep going. It took us about 40 minutes or more just to reach to the first leg (hotel Silberhorn). We stopped by to buy some water bottles and luckily, shortly after we arrived, the bus 128 arrived as well. I was so happy to see it. And we paid for our bus rides to Gross Scheidegg (however, we paid CHF 60 instead of CHF 40 and change because the driver didn't have enough money/change to give back to us and we didn't want to hold other passengers on the bus for too long).

We arrive on Gross Scheidegg at around 5 pm. The bus saved our day. Without it, it must have taken us an hour or more just to come up there. From there, it wasn't a difficult ride at all to First. We made it to First at around 6 pm. Right before sunset.

It was so quiet up there after all day-time visitors left. There were only 14 guests total and a few staffs at the hotel. The sun turned into orange red shining its last lights on the top of other mountains. The air was super fresh and crisp. We walked on the Cliff Walk by Tissot and it was all for us. The staffs were very nice there and the food, though simple, was pretty tasty.

I planned to photograph the stars at night but because this part of the trip was planned after the trip was booked, I couldn't change to another day but this particular day. And it was a night with about 96% moon light, the sky wasn't as dark as it could be. So night time photography was skipped, also because we were so tired after a challenging day trying to go up to First. We went to bed early.

We woke up at around 4 am. We arrived at the lake at around 6 am, I forgot the exact time. It was still dark when we arrive and we couldn't locate the lake in the darkness with our headlights. There was a group of 5-6 people camping there. Most of them were sleeping and there was only a guy taking photos. He told us to keep biking and we would see another lake. I tell you something, the sky was beautiful with the stars still out (the moon already set). We couldn't take any photos because we had to set up to do so and it would take time and I was excited about the lake photography at the sunrise.

We arrived at the lake and set up for our photography (we are not professional photographers). The photos came out not as great as we hoped for because the sun never really rose on the side of the mountains where we could see, so there was no golden lights (the red color) happened on those mountains. But it was sooo quiet there. Nobody was around us. Just us and the nature. So even the photography plan didn't come out great, the entire experience was something will not be forgotten.

And yes, there were people camping by the lake in mid October. Just check the weather and make sure it's safe for you. When we were there, it was about high 30*F in that early morning, no rain.

After having breakfast, we returned the bikes at Intersport on First. FYI, if you rent the bikes somewhere else and return on First, there will be no extra fee (CHF 10) because (they said) it's harder to bring the bikes back up to First so they'll waive the fees for those who wanna return the bikes there. We took the cable car down to Grindelwald and came back to Wengen for another night.

Attached here a photo that I took.

Last modified on Nov 26, 2019 - 9:35 AM by Steph
2293 posts
top member
Nov 26, 2019 - 9:38 AM in reply to angsz

Hello Angsz,

Thanks a million for this very informative and I would say unique trip report you're sharing! I'm sure it will be an inspiration for many future visitors to the Bernese Oberland region.

I'm glad to hear that at the end of the day you enjoyed your adventure and found solutions for all the situations you encountered, that's where travel requires flexibility!

Thanks again, also for the fabulous pic.



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