11-May-2008 -- This is the first out of two confluence points that I visited on a bicycle trip from Zurich into the Vosges Mountains and the Black Forest.
On confluence day, I got up at 5 a.m. at my home in Zurich (Switzerland) and started pedalling at 6 a.m. Under fine weather and good physical conditions I reached Basel 4 hours later. After having a big second breakfast in Basel’s old city I continued to Mulhouse and further to the small town Cernay, which is about 20 km from the confluence. If the road would have been flat, I could have reached this point an hour later. However, from Cernay a famous road called Route des Crêtes winds up to pass by the highest peaks of the Vosges Mountains. Due to its endless serpentines, the road is in particular attractive for motor-bikes, which makes the route less attractive for less noisy two-wheelers such as bicycles. Nevertheless, I made it all the way up to the highest summit, the Grand Ballon (1424 m). Thereby, I past the Hartmannswillerkopf World War I memorial.
Meanwhile, my body – in particular my leg-muscles – were worn out and I was rather slow going. Suddenly I realised, that my remaining time of daylight was restricted to only one more hour. The beeline distance was now 1.7 km and I was right at the nearest point of the ridge-road Route des Crêtes at Col du Herrenberg. I had to find a track down for an altitude difference of 600 m. Luckily, such a track did exist – rocky surface, but bikeable.
Just 500m from the confluence the formerly nice weather had changed: a thunderstorm with heavy rain and hail hit me. I had to hide for another valuable quarter of an hour under a tree. After the rain storm was over, I was freezing cold and the dark clouds and stolen a couple magnitudes of luminance.
When I finally reached the confluence I was totally in time pressure due to the fading daylight. Within a few minutes I had to exactly locate the confluence, change the camera to 400 ISO and take non-shaken pictures of the spot. Conditions were all but optimal with still some rain coming down, the dense and steep forest and the slippery, rocky surface that made walking hard for the last 50 m.
More or less my goal could be reached. When I took the picture of the GPS receiver, the display had already automatically switched to “night-time” mode. The exact location is in-between two parallel going tracks in dense spruce and beech forest.
After documentation I went further down for another 3 km to the village Mittlach and stayed the night in an Auberge. The next day, I continued my trip to Colmar.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 20:45 pm
- riding time: 11 hours 35 min
- riding distance: 198.47 km
- hiking time: 5 min
- hiking distance: 45 m (beeline)
- Distance to a road: 1 km
- Distance to a track: 45 m
- Distance to houses: 2 km
- Topography: steep grade
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 11 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 10 m
- GPS height: 730 m
- Vegetation: spruce and beech forest. Ground covered with moss and ferns.
- Weather: thunderstorm followed by light rain, 12° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In the Vosges mountains, in the upper Fecht Valley. In-between the uppermost village Mittlach and the mountain ridge .
- Given Name: The Hasty Vosges Confluence
Story continues at 48°N 8°E.