Monday, August 8, 2011

Bike ride to Blackwater Bridge (Schwarzwasserbrucke)

The rain let up but it was as windy as a spring day in Flagstaff when I headed out on my trusty steed (I'm hoping it is trusty - I'm trying to give it good vibes...) toward Koniz - a small town just southwest of Bern.  Katherine had stayed here and commented on how pretty it was.  She booked several different adventurous stays at "air bed and breakfasts" when she was here for the INQUA conference.  See if you are interested in budget housing in other people's homes for your travels.

Koniz was up a decent hill but my "new" bike was doing fine so I kept heading uphill and against the wind to see where it would take me.  After an hour I ended up on this bridge with an amazing view to the river below.

Trusty steed on top of the bridge
Here is a picture without my bike in the way:

Notice the trail to the left of the river below?  I found a path that headed down to the river and was happy to have a mountain bike for that section!  Then I took a picture of the river bed where a lower bridge crossed the river.  It was eroded limestone - and reminded me of Slide Rock in Oak Creek Canyon - though that is through sandstone and is even steeper in places.

The Swiss version of Slide Rock
Before I climbed out of the canyon (walking my trusty steed up part of the way) I took a picture of the original bridge I had crossed high above me.

Looking up at the high bridge
It took me just half as long to get home - now that it was mostly downhill and with the wind!

Trip to Oeschinensee

Last Wednesday, on one of our rare sunny days, Darrell got the opportunity to go with a professor and two of his graduate students to a stunning alpine lake, Oeschinensee.  I wasn't able to go on this trip, but I had Darrell forward me the photos so you can see some of the gorgeous mountain scenery I am sure you are expecting from a Swiss blog.

Well-practiced Swiss playing the alphorn
The alphorn (or alpenhorn or alpine horn) is made of wood and is used mountain dwellers in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe.  I am paraphrasing wikipedia for part of this.  The horn was originally made from a naturally bent piece of soft wood, like from a spruce trying to grow upright on a steep mountain slope!   There are surviving artifacts from 1400 AD and they were most likely used as signal instruments in village communities.  Below is a picture of a farmer calling to his cattle.  I was struck by the similarity to the picture Darrell took!

Photo from Wikipedia article on alphorns
Here is the gorgeous lake.  There were hikers going all around it as well as boats you could rent to go out on the lake.

No wonder Vera recommended this lake to us!
I like this picture of meadow flowers that Darrell took.  I think they are heavily grazed which of course affects their species composition - but they look quite lovely!

Alpine meadow
The last picture is my favorite.  There are not many more beautiful things than a high alpine lake...

Just makes you want to break into a yodel!