The day started out great. A fancy Hotel, a great breakfast and good conversation. I loaded up the bike just after 10am and I was on the road at 11am. The weather was looking promising, sunny with just a few clouds.
Cows, I love cows.
The first way-point was Albulapass. This pass was just down the road from where I slept and I figured, "Why Not?" I rode out with my rubber ducky in tow. (The Hotel I stayed in had a rubber ducky in the shower, it doesn't have a rubber ducky anymore.) The approach to the Albulapass was the typical stair case switchbacks. Once I got to up the switchbacks into an alpine valley I caught up to the clouds. I paused just before the hard-core fog to take pictures of the high alpine valley and the cows. (I'm loving these cows.) Once I got on the Pass proper it was Foggy! Very Foggy! The backside of the pass was very scenic for the railroad that criss-crossed the road. I think I saw the same train 4 different times on the desent from the pass. The train would cross the road on a bridge, disappear in a tunnel and reemerge out of another tunnel just down the mountain to do it all again.
The top of Albulapass. Foggy!
The railroad trestles on the backside of Albulapass.
On my way down the pass I saw this place. It was a train car filled with Alpine products. Cheeses, meats and so on. I bought some alpine tea. The cool thing about this place is there was no one there to sell anything. It was a pay as you go honor system. Just write down what you take and drop the money in the box.
The ride down from there was through a nice scenic valley toward a place called Tiefencastel. I thought this meant Devil's Castle, if it does mean that, I did not see Satan's castle or I would have surely taken a picture. From Satan's Castle, I rode down toward Chur toward the Rhein Valley. At first I skirted the side roads through villages with ruined castles along the mountain, but after a bit I knew I needed to expedite my progress so I jumped on the Autobahn. I got turned around in Chur for a minute. Turns out I wasn't supposed to go there after all. (and I despise navigating with a GPS.) After a bit I was on the right path heading toward Andermatt!
After crossing a minor pass at Flims and the ski town of Laax I started the ride up the Rhein valley toward the Oberalapass. On my way up the Rhein valley I teamed up with a BMW rider from Italy and we rode the bulk of the valley together, but we got separated just before the pass. Most of this day I spent without my rain gear, but I decided to suit up before this pass. I had been rained on here and there over the course of the day, but nothing major. I was in some steady rain just before the pass and I figured I should add the extra layer to keep warm if anything. The temperature was in the 40s most of the day. Oberalapass was foggy and the real highlight was going down into Andermatt. Big-Snaky-Curves. But, alas there were no good spots to take pictures.
I stopped in Andermatt for my ritual coffee and snack and then I set out for Furkapass. Finally the weather was cooperating.! The initial climb was the staircase switchbacks which dropped me off into a huge open valley with the sun fighting through the clouds. I stopped and took some pictures and rode on. There were plenty of Cows in this valley too. All with their bells clanging around their neck in a nonstop rhythm. (I love those cows) As I remember there was a little fog at the top but then there was a spot to pull off and I could see the way down from the Firkapass and in the distance I could see the Grimselpass zigzagging up its mountain. I believe this high mountain valley may be the motorcycle Mecca.
Firkapass and the climb up to Grimsel.
Rubber Ducky, you're the one.
On down the mountain I was surprised to see a Glacier right by the road. Of course I pulled up and went to check it out! At the small rest stop you could pay 7 francs and walk into an Ice cave inside the Rhone Glacier. (I did that too.) It is also worth mentioning that the Firkapass was featured in the Bond Film "Goldfinger."
Inside the Glacier.
The Hotel from Goldfinger.
I spent at least an hour taking pictures and taking in the sights on the Firkapass. Finally, I got going on my way up the Grimselpass. Half way up the pass was OK for viewing pleasure, but just before the top I entered the clouds. It was foggy up there like pea soup! So I switched on the high-beam and eased along. On top of the pass there is a rusty sculpture of a motorcyclist and his woman. They are riding a rusted out bike and both of the characters are made of rusted spare parts. It looks like the rider is wearing a WWII helmet with bullet holes in it. The funny thing about this sculpture is that it is chained down. I thought that it would make a great trophy if someone was in the thieving mood.
The fog persisted most of the way down the pass. There were wet roads and an occasional glimpse of sun. I realized that I was pretty tired riding down from the Grimselpass. It was almost 7pm and noticed that I wasn't in tune with the road as much as I should be. At one point I rode below a dam with a large painting of weird womanly figures. I found myself fixating on them and not looking at the road and I had to correct because I was drifting toward the edge. I think the painting is of the Sirens of Grimselpass. Hahahahaha.
I pulled into Innerkirchen and decided to call it a night. I found a camping spot for 18 francs and I pitched my tent. Sleep was good, I don't have an air mattress on this trip, so I slept on my riding jacket and pants and I feel rested. I think I'm going to do these other passes here before I move on today. I would hate to say I missed out on some of these mountains