Monday, May 4, 2015

The Adventures of Antonio! - Escape from the Desert - Part I, The Thin White Line

Among the family of waterfalls that feed into Lake Brienz, Mulibach falls, is the too thin, too tall, too shy sister. Giessbach falls is all glamour and passion. Riefenbach falls is the femme fatale of the region. Mulibach falls, on the other hand, goes unnoticed, a thin white line peeking out from between the trees on the forested north slope of Lake Brienz, disappearing back into them again and emerging as a well controlled and channeled stream passing along the edge of the village.
Mostly she goes unnoticed while her more notable sisters get all the attention.
But this year things are different.
This year she is full of Spring exuberance. With the recent rains melting the snowpack she is bursting her banks, bringing down trees and washing away footpaths.
To find her, head west through the village until you reach the church. Just west of the church is where her channeled flow meets the lake.

From here, by the way, there is a good view across the lake to Grand Hotel Giessbach and the Giessbach Falls rising in its unending cascade above. Tomorrow I will pay my respects to Giessbach Falls. So make sure to check out my next blog post.

From the church just keep the channel on your left and head uphill. You’ll see a few handily placed signs pointing out the “wanderweg”. I love the sound of that word... wanderweg... full of unknown adventure. Remember, adventure doesn’t come by following well trod paths. Wander!

The lower stretches of the Mulibach stream flow through sturdy channels, contained by massive stone walls. Small farms and gardens hug her banks.

Further up the channel gives way to the natural course of the stream, marked by massive boulders. Through the trees there are teasing glimpses of the source of all this liquid excitement.

Looking back, the view opens again towards Giessbach Falls above the opposite bank. At this height the peaks and the glaciers that melt into her come into view.

One of the forest denizens that clings to this mountainous slope –

Not long past this pretty blue flower the path came to an abrupt end, washed out by the magnificent force of Miss Mulibach’s rampage down the mountainside. 

The intrepid Swiss were not about to let her discomfit their tourist hordes though. (I encountered not a human soul except my own on this hike.) They had already cut a new, if narrow alternate path. 

Yes, and I do mean narrow … barely wide enough for one person to walk VERY carefully.
Here’s a bit of evidence of the recent work, left by the side of the path.

Despite the treacherously narrow path I couldn’t help stopping to admire these little yellow fellows.

Climbing higher, a washed out bridge, cause for another detour –

It’s important to remember to look back from time to time.

Near the top of the path a small side path led to the back gate of this farm, high up on the mountainside, seemingly isolated from the world, though I expect it has a very serviceable driveway accessible by a 4x4 which could probably get me in 5 minutes to the point that had taken me over 90 minutes to reach on foot.

Forest light –

Almost there. From around the corner of this rugged, root-riddled path comes the unseen roar.

Finally! ... The top of the trail... which turns out to be the bottom of the waterfall... The falls make a fascinating leap into a sort of basin from which they spill over the edges, like water overflowing a bowl with rippled edges. I’d really love to get up there and see it closer. But this is as far as the path goes and I’m not ready to risk my life for a better view.

Another panoramic view –

Remembering to look back –

On the walk back down a fork in the trail leads east and down into the village from a slightly different direction. These poker faced four-leggeds are watching a tired and wet two-legged pass by.

A view along the path –


  1. Thank you for sharing this adventure with us in all its grandeur and simplicity.

  2. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures and your wonderful narrative Antonio! Wow, I can almost imagine being there! I'm reminded of the Rogue River trail in So Oregon. And King's Canyon, roaring, but much smaller falls. Though no hotel! Nevertheless, delicious hot chocolate with honey whipped cream can be made on the camp fire! Or on the cookstove in the magical cabin above the gorge. Oh and the film about a fountain with a Napoleon character running along the bank with the flowing water... I forget the name? Joni Mitchel is playing on kpfa, perfect background music! Oh now it's some beautiful Asian like violin music by John Jang.

    The 'pretty purple flower' is prunella, self heal. A wonderful wound healer. nature provides what we need, close at hand ; )

    I hope you are well!

  3. So close and yet so far. With the hope that you are doing well...
    Love, Serge