Motorhiking (Thal)

June 22, 2013

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Dan gave me a pleasant surprise Friday when he suggested that we take the motorcycles south and then hike around once we got “somewhere”. Two of my favorite pastimes, rolled into one – sounds good to me! Dan put a “destination balloon” on Google maps and we were set. But when Saturday morning came we checked the weather: 50% of rain in the Emmental area. Well, we’d go anyway and see what we ran into.

We took the fast roads out of Basel and were in the town of Niederbipp half an hour later. Dan led us on some back roads and through some small towns. I found it amusing that we’ve only been on a couple of rides together and we were already taking roads we’d been on before. Oh well – they are good roads.

Stopping along to the way to put a layer on – it was chillier than we thought it would be.

I knew that we were close when we came to the town of Sumiswald. The weather had held although there were still a lot of clouds hoving over the tops of the mountains. There would be no Alp view today.

The village of Thal was tiny, with less than a dozen buildings at the main intersection. We decided that we were far enough into the hills to start looking for somewhere to hike. A road led from Thal into the hills and we decided to follow it, planning on stopping as soon as we saw one of the tell-tale yellow Wanderweg signs.

We ran out of road before we could find a place to stop. Undaunted, we turned around and went back to Thal.

Dead end road at Thal.

There wasn’t a lot going on in Thal, but we did find a map and some Wanderweg signs. We parked the bikes next to a playground full of goats (technically it was a playground built for the goats, but it was still awesome) and switched riding gear for hiking gear. Everything could be stowed safely on our bikes until we returned.


Dan looking at the local map. Notice the gas station behind him.

Parked near the goat yard.

For the next two hours we followed the Wanderweg signs. Sometimes they were challenging to find and we had fun hunting around for them. But usually they were placed well in sight from one point to the next. The trail climbed immediately and without consideration for my lungs. Dan, of course, plunged on ahead, waiting for me at key points.

You’re never alone in Switzerland

Yeah, yeah. I’ll get there!

At one challenging junction I stopped at a bench under a large shade tree and pulled out the lunch I had packed for us: two fresh rolls, a couple of sticks of cured sausage and a bottle of water. It was a beautiful place to catch my breath.

Logging is quite prevalent here which is surprising because they do it so stealthily. I have yet to see a clear cut of any remarkable size. Everything seems to be done via selective cutting. And I am always amazed to see the size of the trees that they pull out of the forests, too.

Dan plays Julie Andrews for a little bit…

The Wanderwegs can be hard to follow sometimes simply because they go through unlikely places, such as this farm:

We had reached a turn around point which unfortunately did not continue as a loop. We backtracked our way back to the bikes, still enjoying some fantastic hiking weather.

It was time to head north again. The bikes were waiting for us while we popped into the local store for a quick drink and then Dan set his GPS for home. His GPS had quite a bit of trouble with his request, as he had enabled all avoidances which included the autobahn. That was a lot of data for it to compute, but we eventually made our way far enough that it could figure out what was needed without freezing.

It really is difficult to get pictures of some of the better riding roads in the area. The valleys below are spectacular, but there is nowhere to pull over whatsoever. I still tried to capture the ones I could, however.

The road is on the right hand side. The view was much better about three turns prior.

Dan waiting for his GPS to recalculate.

Going around a barrier on a newly paved road. Shhhhh!

Country roads just outside of Basel.

Almost home!

All in all we were only out of the house for about 7.5 hours. Not bad considering we enjoyed a nice motorcycle ride and a hike in the mountains!

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