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Saturday, May 4, 2013

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In typical fashion, the morning I left the sun came out and I got my first look at the mountain which towers over Lucerne, Mount Pilatus. It is actually composed of several summits, the highest being the Tomlishorn at 2,128 m and it is notable (as well as picturesque) for the fact it has the world’s steepest cogwheel railway and  in 1867 was climbed by Queen Victoria.

Leaving Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

I was headed for Interlaken and decided to take the same route as the ‘Interlaken Express’ rather than follow the cycle paths, for no other reason than I fancied a change and was told by the tourist office it was very scenic, even though it does mostly follow the main roads. It also goes over the Brunnig Pass, a pretty worthy climb!

The rivers were in full flow after the rains

It was a real joy to be in the mountains once again as when surrounded by such views the climbing doesn’t seem to be a chore. Instead of nose down and grinding it out I’m taking it all in, as well as making the time to stop for the pictures. After following the valley for a while it was not long before I was on the first climb to Wilen and Sachseln.

Looking back down to Lucern from part way up the first climb.

The descent down the other side brought me out beside a beautiful lake called Sarner See, where I stopped for a while just to admire the views and watch the fishermen. When I think back to sitting in the tent waiting for the storms to pass, it’s all worthwhile for views like this.

Lake Sarner See

The Brunnig Pass tops out at just 1,008 m, so it is not in the big league compared to what lies ahead in the next few days. It was still a tough challenge for me though as I took my time climbing up, even stopping for a lunch break and cup of tea half way up. The top was a bit of a disappointment if I’m honest, so I just kept on going down the other side until I got my first proper view of Interlaken and the lake – what a view!

Looking down to Interlaken

I decided to stay on the right hand side of Lake Brienze rather than tuck myself away in the forest tracks on the other side and I’m glad I did, the riding was wonderful and scenery just kept getting better (if that was possible) as I was now just trundling along, my jaw having dropped long ago. The views along the lakeside were simply stunning.

Cycling just doesn’t get much better than this.

Lake Brienze

As I neared my destination I began looking for likely spots to wild camp, but alongside the road were many clear signs saying no camping between 22:00 and 07:00. It had been a very long day and I wasn’t about to go wildly off route searching, so decided to find a ‘proper’ campsite in Interlaken. Looking at my map there were very many to choose from, but I wanted to be next to Lake Thun (the other lake in Interlaken) so rode the few kilometers out the other side of town.

Unbelievably it started to rain! The sky was turning black as coal and as I arrived at the campsite, the lady in reception told me to set up the tent and batten down the hatches for the approaching storm, then return later to sign in. As I picked a spot under a huge fir tree and next to a nice new VW campervan, I got chatting with it’s owner. He thought the storm would pass us and head further down the valley, I still pulled out all the stops and set about putting up the tent. Then the most beautiful words came from the lady in the campervan “do you fancy a cup of tea?” The look on my face was a picture…

Tony and Jane were the campervan owners, taking a short break with their two boys from their home in Grenoble. Jane invited me to share ‘potatoes and asparagus’ with them, but when I sat down I was plied also with salad and red wine, bliss! We chatted away like old friends, it was so good to be in such good company and share a few stories.
Tony had been right about the storm, it did pass us by, however the rain persisted all night and was still going when I woke early and went for a shower. I started to pack away, but as the rain got heavier decided their was little point and watched as Tony, Jane and the boys packed everything into the campervan. We said our goodbye’s with an offer to look after me should I pass by Grenoble and while I’m not sure if I will, I certainly hope we stay in touch – a lovely family.

Tomorrow I head up into the mountains to Grindelwald and a date with my old friend the Eiger…

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1 Comment
Maggie Gaestel
Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 4:04 am

Great posting and wonderful photos. Nice folks in the camper van. Am loving this part of your trip.

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