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Pollen everywhere

Things are not exactly turning back to normal and I myself am still mostly confined to the comfort of home. However, that is not the case for everyone in the house. Anita and I loosely planned (“loosely” being our favourite kind of planning) another three days of cycling to enjoy her last sunny days off before work – again with a little rock climbing sprinkled in to add diversity. As her sister wanted to join the climbing, we were able to drop the gear at her place and have it delivered to the rock the next day. That is what I call luxury travel!

Everything about the weather forecast for these three days was unusual for spring in Switzerland: It was hotter and sunnier than it should be, just as the entirety of April so far. We had already noticed an excess amount of Pollen on everything we left outside. The trees seem to be having a blast exchanging genes this year with little rain to wash their sex dust out of the air.

For this outing we headed south instead of north, towards Interlaken, and a generous tailwind had us flying along the Aare river. Steffisburg is where the “Bernese Oberland Cycling Route 61” starts. It climbs up the hills and mountains on the north side of the Lake of Thun and rewards you with incredible vistas of the lake and mountains for the effort you put in. The gradients never turn too extreme and we found ourselves mostly enjoying the 1000+ metres of elevation gain, which never stopped providing new vistas and villages to enjoy. The highlight of the day was the last stretch of road through the “Justistal” or Justis Valley, a small toll road where there is little to no traffic and spectacular views of the Niederhorn that towers over the valley and the mountains on the other side of the lake. We found a quiet forest road on the east side of the valley and watched the sunset sharing a cold beer. After setting up the bivy we consumed a massive amount of pasta – one of the main perks and side effects of cranking out those kilometres and hills.

The next morning we put on all our warm layers and enjoyed blasting down the mountain in 30 minutes to reach Interlaken, where we eventually met Raffi at the crag with all our climbing gear. Compared to our two previous cycling and climbing adventures, this day turned out to be a real serious workout. Not that it was no fun, much the opposite, but we had always been a little too pressed or too spent on these outings to really push ourselves on the wall. Taking an entire day to give our bodies a chance to adapt to the different mental and physical demands of climbing really helped us try some of the harder stuff. There are no pictures of the climbing for some reason, except for that big battered moth that landed on my shoe and stayed there for the better part of our lunch break. 

The Evening after that day in the crag was to die for. We sat at the lake, watched the sun slowly inch down towards the mountains, took a quick dip in our underwear, ate pizza and enjoyed the amazing atmosphere. We had seen yellow streaks on the lake the previous day, formed by the excessive amount of pollen everywhere. We did not expect the entire rim of the lake to be covered in Pollen. The water had taken on a fascinating pale gold hue and was a refreshing swim. I appreciate not being allergic to the stuff. 

We slept on the ground again the second night, still in Interlaken, hidden away in some bushes on the Lake of Brienz. A beautiful, yet probably rather illegal place to sleep. We waited until most of the light had faded and were very stealthy about it. Just as we got started laying down our mats and sleeping bags we heard a voice and froze, until we realised that there was a couple going at it not very far from us. That calmed my worries about being woken up during the night, albeit in a weird way. We both got a good night’s sleep once they were done. 

Day three was a leisurely 85km of rather flat terrain and less food to carry. We got a very early start with Müesli and Yoga at the lake, swearing at the arched mountain that matches the sun’s rise and delays its appearance for over an hour after the official sunrise. Then we cycled along the lake of Thun on route 8, which can be a bit underwhelming at times, as it features some roads with a lot of traffic. However, the Forest next to Thun turned out to be packed with possibilities for adventure! There was a military vehicle stream crossing that I just about managed to cycle through (on my second attempt), a big natural cave with beautiful stalactites and a seemingly man-made tunnel that we crawled through. The tunnel claimed my battered phone’s last breath, probably because I put too much pressure on it squeezing through the last part.

After a lunch break on the shore of the lake of Thun with a generous helping of bread, cheese and chocolate, we braved the headwinds all the way to Bern. Anita had not been buying my advice on “attacking” hills with a lowish gear and a spritely spinning pair of legs on previous tours, until now. All of a sudden she was outpacing me on many of the last small hills home, where we arrived in the afternoon to stretch our legs and enjoy another golden evening.