Getting into the Alps

Not as high as in Valais or Grisons, but still with some climbs. I wanted to take a route going through nice scenery instead of staying in the plains between Zürich, Bern and Neuchatel.


 

Even if it rained all night, I leave Luzern under a beautiful blue sky and can tour around the Lake Luzern with a view on the snowy peaks, including Pilatus.

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Mt Pilatus from Luzern train station

 

The climb of the day is called Brünig, a 1008m pass. My route will actually take me along the Golden Pass train, a scenic train route linking Luzern to Montreux and going through the Bernese Alps. The cycling path from SchweizMobil.ch road is the #9. I go inside the valleys infested by small airstrips, part of the Swiss Redoubt, a defense system made of mysterious installations in the mountains.

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View on Giswil and Sarnersee
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Taking off to the Brünig pass
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Another mysterious concrete wall in the mountain with train tracks

 

The climb is longer than I expected and I progress quite slowly. The sky is often dark and rainish, all shops are closed between 12 and 2 (at least) and I can’t find chocolate to power my legs.

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Stans from Alpnachersee

 

The route for the bikes is not always paved and nice, but I find it exceptional that there is a route almost dedicated to bicycles, crossing the passes. Especially since the normal road is usually steep, narrow, with cars and trucks not very friendly on it.

 

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Climbing up Brünig

 

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Climbing up Brünig

 

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Finally at Brünig

 

Much later than expected, I finally reach Brünig pass, and take a bento break. It marks the limit between Central Switzerland where I come from (Luzern and Vierwaldersee) and the Bernese Oberland (Interlaken and the touristy mountains). There is little traffic up there, but a Brockenhaus, and a tiny road to Meiringen, that I take.

It starts to drizzle and the descent is steep to Meiringen on a little paved road. I finally find food there, and my highlight of the day: Meiringen has (yet another) military airstrip. This one is noisy. There are fighter planes operating on it. The noise is also surprisingly coming from the mountain on the South side. My bike route is taking me between the airstrip and that mountain … until the signal for barriers starts ringing. The barriers almost go down over my head, and a jet fighter appears from the mountain cliff and drives to the airstrip.

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Quite an unusual sight

 

It is exactly like in the Thunderbirds, with an airstrip leading directly inside the mountain.

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Me too

 

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Having a look inside

 

Since no-one around seems to pay attention to me, and since no signs warn about anything, I get closer to the mountain to see where the jet fighters come from. There are 2 tunnels, and many men driving little machines with lights and beeps. From being the fence, I really feel in the beginning of a James Bond movie. Well, it must not be that secret as I was spotted with my camera and I was not arrested by a guard with a russian hat and a Kalashnikov.

The 3 fighter jets fresh out of the mountain then take off, which leaves me enough chances to set the correct settings on my camera. That makes quite some noise.

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Fighter jet taking off and the main road down from Brünig pass in the background

 

I continue along the Brienz lake, this one with the very nice turquoise color, wanting to take the south side. I have been walking there before and know there are some picnic huts that I could stay at, sheltered from the rain. Unfortunately the bike path is closed and I don’t take the risk to have to do a U-turn at some point (cliffs are pretty steep over there). I change my way for the northern side, through the town of Brienz and other cute little villages. I finally find to sleep on a straw bed under a roof by the train tracks. Having nothing to do at night, the temperature dropping to 6°C, I just fall asleep at 19:00 and sleep well. With the exception the track maintenance machines making a scary effect with lights and thunder in the night.

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On the next day, I have to get out in the rain and the cold. I have a lot of elevation to gain to reach “where the views are nice”.

 


 

I must stop every now and them to allow my fingers to unfreeze and to avoid getting soaked until the bones.

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Then I remembered I had another pair of gloves and reward myself with a delicious chocolate for that idea

 

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The bike road is very convenient to avoid the cars and finds sometimes strange solutions

 

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With the clouds getting away, I feel like taking pictures again

 

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What I wouldn’t do to stay away from cars … I turn left

 

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The day is still grey and rainy but I finally see snow

 

My chain starts to kweek-kweek with the rain and dust and I make a break in Zweisimmen to clean it. With the help of Patrick from Sputnik Bikeshop I also get my fenders readjusted. I can start again on a bike that makes a beautiful mechanical sound. That gives me motivation to go further and “make up” for the time spent at the repair shop. However, in the meantime, the night has come and I find myself in a narrow road with cars, among high pine trees capturing most of the light. I pull off the road on the first turn and am rescued by Peter and Anita who kindly host me in the workshop.

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Local food for dinner
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