Morel to Oberwald: We are in the Alps! - Poking Around Europe 4.0 - CycleBlaze

October 2, 2017

Morel to Oberwald: We are in the Alps!

That is 48 epic kilometres by our standards. How do I begin to describe today. 1509 metres of climbing (4950 feet) and amazing views. We had a hilarious end to the day too...but I will talk about that later. We are both still laughing, and it is a good thing we have a sense of humour!

Our hotel in Morel had some things going for it. The room was clean and the staff were great. The restaurant was fantastic. However, the pillows were beyond their best before date by years. I do mean years. I wish I hadn't looked inside the pillow case this morning after a poor sleep with a pillow that felt like a rock. Such an easy thing for a hotel to fix. I wonder why they don't. So the Hotel Aletsch wouldn't be my first choice in Morel. Do enjoy the restaurant though.

So instead of a picture of the hotel, here is a picture of the beautiful building across the street.
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We started out by biking up into Morel. It is a cute little village with a cable car up to the Aletsch glacier which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. This whole area is just absolutely spectacular. You could spend months here and barely scratch the surface if you love exploring the outdoors.

At the end of a day of mountain biking, just jump on the train and head home.
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We went by the elementary school. Isn't this an awesome play structure!
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After our little explore of the community, off we went on the bike route, which immediately directed us up. We could see it was a series of switchbacks, and we both like a challenge, and it looked like the views would be amazing, so off we went. Well, it was all of the above and more. We both assumed that at some point we would arrive at the top of the road and then have an awesome, paved descent. That is absolutely not what happened. Instead, after climbing and climbing, we were directed onto an unpaved track that kept going up, at times at an unrideable grade. As the CN says, when the front wheel starts coming off the ground it is time to push.

The sign at the bottom of the initial climb.
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Looking back at Morel.
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Great teeny tiny communities.
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Looking back at a few of the switchbacks.
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Why are these villages up here? A long way for a litre of milk but the views are amazing. Actually, in most of them the milk is fresh and out in the pasture. We saw many, many dairy cattle.
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We were getting high. Still on paved road here.
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Here is some of that milk I was talking about.
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We went by what looked like an old slide as we approached it. Clearly it was. I have been trying to find the details on the internet but haven't had any luck...except in German. What was really upsetting is the age of the victims.
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Climbing.
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Still climbing but the track is deteriorating.
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It doesn't look that steep in the picture, but I could barely push the bike up this bit.
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Close to the top.
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When we finally did start to descend, the track was a treacherous, pretty much full on mountain biking. At one point there was a precipitous drop to my left. I just didn't look, but I rode unclipped and ready to bail right!!! Would you believe we dropped down around a huge gully, just to climb our way back up. So it wasn't the delicious descent we were anticipating. When we were finally back on asphalt I nearly kissed it and we stopped for a well earned lunch in the most beautiful spot imaginable.

The ride was so interesting. All the little villages we have been looking up at we were now riding through. The construction of the wooden houses and storage sheds was remarkable. Many of them sit almost on stilts with a flat round rock supporting them.

After we arrived back at he highway the CN decided we should make up some time by riding the road for awhile. We were still climbing, but at highway grades. We stopped at a cafe for water and a slice of Black Forest cake. The CN was very annoyed that the cafe (which was attached to a grocery store) was going to charge him 2 chf (about 3$) for tap water so headed to the public washroom for that. He came back equally annoyed because they were going to charge 1 chf to use the washroom. He had me and the German couple next to us in stitches. He refused to pay the one franc on principle so sent me in to do it. The first thing I saw when I walked into the store was a huge bottle of water for .25 cents. Done and done. I felt quite clever.

After the hydration drama we returned to the bike path. It was great, and in a blink we were at a sign that said 'Oberwald .5 km'. Perfect! We're here.

And so the hilarious end of the day. The CN had made a rare mistake and looked at the sign, pointed out it had a picture of a train on it, said it was half a click to the train station, but we still had 10 km to go and there were some switchbacks involved. We went by an alarming sign about grade and distance but headed up. One km into the climb the CN paused for what the Tour de France calls a nature break. That is when he realized his mistake and that we were one km into the Furka Pass. We turned around and were in Oberwald, checked in and flaked out in less than 10 minutes. Hallelujah! What a fantastic day. Here is the Relive:
https://www.relive.cc/view/1211927588

All of a sudden the internet has slowed to a crawl. I will add more pictures in the morning.

The bridge at the bottom of the descent.
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So over we went and back up hehe.
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Lunch view. Lunch never tasted so good. What a gorgeous spot this was. The pictures don't do it justice.
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Riding the not very busy highway for a while to put on some km.
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How about those stairs?
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The villages were so beautiful.
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Isn't this interesting, and these structures were everywhere. The one on the right has a fairly recent foundation but check out the one on the left.
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Even the highway provided amazing views but from here we got back on the bike path.
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Back on the bike path, next to the Rhone. We are very close to the source.
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So, morning here. There is rain, fog, and a huge mountain between us and Andermatt. We are relaxing over breakfast discussing how cool it would be to do the Furka Pass, but not in the rain and cold. There will be no views with the fog and the cold on the descent would be a huge issue. So we may have a train in our very near future. Disappointing for sure. The CN is looking at the weather and talking about staying here until tomorrow if the weather looks favourable. We'll see! For now we are warm, dry, extraordinarily happy and have two great options. For two people who may not bike today we are eating a gigantic breakfast hehe. Mmmmmm, croissants! Keith says an eight jammer.

Today's ride: 48 km (30 miles)
Total: 1,809 km (1,123 miles)

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