Our choice to visit the Lauterbrunnen Valley hadn't been entirely by chance as we had visited this area once before on our 2003 Interrail Tour ofEurope. On that tour we didn't have the luxury of a motorhome so had pitched our tent in Interlaken and taken the train as far up the valley as our Interrail ticket would allow, reaching Lauterbrunnen and walking to visit the Trummelbach Falls (we had wanted to visit the Jungfrau, but that was far too expensive). The Trummelbach falls had left a big impression on us and we couldn't resist the opportunity of revisiting them when they were only 6km back down the valley from our campsite.
With ten glacier waterfalls that have cut their way right inside the solid rock of the mountain over tens of thousands of years. The Trummelbach alone drains the mighty glaciers of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, with a drainage area of more than 24 square kilometres delivering over 20,000 litres of water per second. These are the only glacial waterfalls in Europe that are inside a mountain and are an awesome demonstration of the power of water to cut through even solid rock over time.
We felt excited and nervous to be returning after so many years with such fond memories. Would the falls feel the same 10 years on, having seen so much, or would they disappoint us and dim our fond recollections? Stepping out of the furnicular about halfway up the falls and starting the steep staircase cut through the mountain to access the closest of the 10 sections, we felt a thrill as we immediately heard the loud gush of the water thundering and echoing inside the mountain. First reaching 'chute 6' we looked up into the the murky light at a funnel of water shooting out from high above us and twisting into a smoothed out plunge pool below. We needn't have worried, they were just as we remembered.
Over the next hour and half we made our way up the tunnelled out stairways to chute 10 where the water enters the mountain and right down to chute 1 where it jets into the remarkably gentle looking stream to be carried serenely down the valley. Lingering at each viewing point, we marvelled not only at the water, the noise and spray but also the rock forms left by the thousands of years long ago when the water used to take a very different course. Looking up from the viewing points, where the light weakly enters from the outside, you can see all of the smoothed rock surfaces and staining that shows the flow of water from ages past. It's like looking back in time and gives a strange feeling of how staggeringly different the timescale of these geological changes are to our own daily experiences.
Spending some time reminiscing over the past 11 years and how much had changed since our first visit, later that evening we also compared todays photos with those from 2003. The falls themselves certainly hadn't changed much (although there was less water in the photos, probably due to the different month of our visit), but we certainly had – hopefully for the better? It had been a really nice trip down memory lane and a great way to spend a slightly drizzly day in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Have we changed much!?