Taubenloch Gorge, Switzerland, Sept 15, 2013


One of the places that was mentioned on our boat ride the other day was the Taubenlochschlucht, or Taubenloch Gorge, a beautiful hiking trail near Biel/Bienne.

There was a bunch of information on it in both Wikipedia and the gorge's own website.

So I did a bit of research. One of the resources suggested that we could do a bit of a hiking loop, with a little help from a funicular railway from Biel to the town of Evilard, about 250 m higher than Biel. The railway ran for about 1 km. It was a steep track, but then, the Swiss have figured out how to deal with mountainous terrain.

This information was all well and good, but in the end, I was stymied, because I couldn't figure out where the bottom end of the funicular was. I tried finding it on Google Earth, and was just lost. So I asked for help at the front desk, and found out where to go. Some time later, as we were riding up the mountain, I realized why Google Earth didn't help - the funicular went through tunnels! Yep, the Swiss know how to deal with mountains - take a steep railway, add in some tunnels, and bingo!

Here is a shot from my mapping software, showing our trek, which was more of a lollipop than a loop, because we had to get from our hotel to the funicular.

And a Google Earth view of our hike, which was close to 12 kms in length, not counting the 1 km on the funicular. The red arrows point to the beginning and end of the funicular. The blue arrows point to the beginning and end of the gorge. The gorge itself is about 2 kms long.

The hike

Here is a view of Biel from the top.

There was good signage along the trail.

There were a few slugs on the path.

Much of the trail heading towards the upper end of the gorge was quite nice, like this.

Then, as we headed downhill towards the gorge, we ran into a fairly ugly and rocky path.

The ugliness of the path turned out to be only one of the concerns. Because all of a sudden, I could hear some white noise overhead. I thought to myself that this could be something like whispering pines. Or it could be rain falling on the tops of the very tall trees. If it was the latter, then it probably wouldn't be too long before the rain actually came all the way to me. I looked up. Absolutely no evidence of wind. Shucks! And then the rain came down. Hard.

Now, you have to understand. We did each bring an umbrella. And Stephen got his out, and was somewhat protected from the rain. I, on the other hand, had a bit of a conundrum. You see, it is really hard to use two walking sticks AND hold an umbrella. If the path were easy walking, I would have just held both walking sticks in one hand. But the path really demanded that I use both sticks. So I put my sun visor on, to keep the rain out of my glasses. And I put my jacket on, with its hood up, to help minimize the moisture penetration.

And we plodded onward.

Finally, after what seemed to be an interminable amount of time, we reached the gorge.

Here are some photos of the gorge.

This photo shows the river in the distance, and a canal closer to me. The canal is perhaps 6 feet wide. Ultimately, the canal fed into an electrical station. Apparently the water in this gorge is worth almost 15 gigawatts per year.

There are even tunnels for the path. There are also big caverns along the path.

The second electrical station.

The electrical station at the end. I was amused by the painting of a water rat on the wall.

And at the end, a spiffy new sign announcing the trail.

We have found it interesting that this is a bilingual area. Fortunately, our French is much better than our German, so we have managed much better than on previous trips.

At the same time, we have found some interesting anomalies. For example, the building across the street from us is called Residenz Au Lac, with a mix of German and French all in one name. (It is a retirement residence, apparently much like the one in Edgemont where Mom and Dad lived, and with similar costs. And it also has a secure living area for dementia patients, following a concept from the Swiss Alzheimer's Association.)

By the time we hit civilization, we were ready for something to eat. Fortunately, earlier this morning, Stephen had uncovered a real gem for us: a Subway store (not too far from a McDonalds and a Starbucks). So we grabbed a sandwich each. (This isn't that bad - this is Sunday, and we have found several establishments to be closed, including grocery stores, where we usually get our meals.)

You really do have to imagine the sight of two wet and bedraggled people finally getting into the hotel room. All of our wet clothes are attempting to dry out, but thanks to the humidity, it could take a while.

Meanwhilst, after almost 25 kms of walking in two days, I am decreeing that tomorrow is a rest day. Stephen is developing a solo plan.

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