Brunni-Alpgschwänd Seilbahn, HergiswilOctober 22 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C
Martha is 771m above sea level, in a hillside car park englufed by thick fog. The cable car we're parked next to apparently provides stunning views, but it's not looking that promising right now.
The short journey here provided us with our first glimpse of Lake Lucerne, but we soon turned off the main road and away from the valley floor, up a single track lane whose name
('Bergstrasse' or 'Mountain Road') tells you all you need to know. Luckily it dwindled out not long after the car park so we only met one vehicle on our climb.
We'd planned to take the gondola a further 455m up to Alp Gschwänd and walk down, but we bided our time, hoping visibility would improve. Late afternoon we decided to give up on the original plan and took a stroll along one of the many trails signposted. As the vapour in the air rolled over the slopes, it hid much of the landscape. However, it was forever flowing and in pockets where it was less dense it shone a kind if spotlight on nearby features we may not otherwise have paid attention to; a timber framed barn, a log pile, a small herd of Grey Alpine and Brown Swiss cattle. It gave the land a mystical feel and we were very glad we'd made the effort to get out and experience it.
During the day we listened to the sounds of the cable car, hikers out and about and the occasional car, truck or tractor. Overnight these sounds fell away and we were treated to complete silence as well as the pitch black darkness caused by the blanket of fog.
Sadly our leisure batteries are really struggling without much input from solar or the engine and the voltage had dropped very low. We didn't want to drain it further by putting the heating on, so it was a chilly start to the day.
There was no change in the weather so we were in two minds about spending money on the lift, but as it was only 7Sfr (£5.50) each, we decided to go for it anyway. There was no attendant at the base station, but there was a local who had a good rant to us about how Boris Johnson was the best thing since Churchill, how good and strong England is and how great it was that we were leaving the EU and taking control of our borders. Will, who understands and speaks German a lot better than Vicky, made several good arguments which were rebutted with a poke in the shoulder and more anti immigrant ranting. We were very relieved our new acquaintance didn't accompany us up the mountain.
Sitting in the gondola unable to see anything but white fuzz outside, we joked about the 'fabulous views', until all of a sudden the fog became less dense. We could see trees, the grass, something blue up above. To our shock and wonder, we emerged fully into brilliant sunshine and a beautiful clear sky. Above us the craggy peak of Mount Pilatus towered over the cable car station and restaurant which were at 1226m. Below was the most stupendous ocean of fog spreading for many kilometres until it met the jutting horizon of the Alps. Poking above the swirling white mass like islands in the sea, were a few taller hills, over which the fog flowed like a waterfall in places.
Dumbstruck, we tottered out of the gondola into hot air and approached the only other person around to pay our fares. Saying how stunning the view was, Will asked if it was like this yesterday. The attendant, who seemed unmoved by the sight, said it was only because of today's Föhn wind; a phenomenon we'd only recently encountered in Meiringen.
The descent via well marked trails was rather slower than predicted because we kept stopping to take in the astounding views. The sound from below was muffled by the vapour and we enjoyed being able to pick out sounds of birdsong and falling leaves. We dropped more than 300m, in bright clear conditions, through Alpine pastures dotted with pinky purple Meadow Saffron, our path taking an occasional foray into mixed forest. When we were 120m above Martha, we reentered the chill of the fog.
Over the rest of the day the visibility gradually improved, until we could eventually see all the way down to Lake Lucerne in the valley floor, albeit through a bit of a haze. Bizarrely, as darkness fell the temperature rose. At 7pm it was 20°C and it had only fallen by a degree when we stepped out at 9pm to search for stars. Another effect of the Föhn wind!Read more