06-Jan-2007 -- Having moved to Zurich recently, I am now surrounded by a set of interesting confluences that I have not been visited yet. The nearest confluence to Zurich is at 2900m altitude and therefore not doable in a day. So I decided to visit the second nearest confluence which is 61.5 km beeline from my home.
I started cycling at 6:45 a.m. on this January morning. This winter had been extraordinary warm and there was no snow coverage below 1500m, so cycling was an option to hunt this confluence.
I thought that I could reach the confluence by noon – what a foolish idea! First of all I had two flats which were caused by worn out tyres. I replaced them and other parts like bracket shoes that needed urgent replacement. Secondly, the mountain ranges are aligned north-south, which meant climbing several passes when going west.
The 6th of January is the Catholic holiday Epiphany (Biblical Magi or Three Wise Men, in German called Heilige Drei Könige), where I saw kids acting as the Kings Caspar, Melchor and Balthasar. They go from door to door and sing a song – the residents are usually generous with some gifts.
At 14:30 pm I came through the town Wolhusen (7km beeline) and soon started to climb the hill towards Doppleschwand and Romoos. From the uppermost village Romoos (2km beeline) a small sealed road ascents steeply further towards the confluence. The road’s nearest proximity to the confluence is 160m. Here I parked the bike and expected to have a quick visit.
But just that moment when I started the hike, the GPS fix was lost. I walked back and forth, but the satellite signals were blocked by mountains or attenuated by surrounding trees. It took a long unpleasant while (remember that it was January and the wind was cooling my bones) until the minimum of 3 satellites showed up. One receiver suggested to go another 1.5 km north (displayed accuracy: 120m) and the other directed me 120m west by an accuracy of 29m.
Without going too deep into details, I do agree with those who came before that GNSS receipt is extremely bad near the confluence. Probably, it’s best to follow the first visitor’s concept of not bringing a GPS receiver along.
Covering the last 160m requires a hike from ca. 985m to 919m altitude, parts of it are extremely steep and dangerous. Best is to take a more southwards route over the grasslands and not follow the direct route through the forest as I did. At the confluence itself, the steepness requires both hands for climbing and does not allow keeping anything like GPS receivers or digital cameras in the hands. The difficulty of locating the exact point is caused by the cliffy topography combined with the weak GPS receipt. Imagine that once you finally made it to the confluence point – the GPS fools you by changing its mind, telling you to go another 30m further up again. Additionally, my time was limited, because the last daylight was fading.
The confluence is probably located on an almost vertical rock face as seen from 8m distance. In order to improve the confluence position estimation, one would either need to survey the point by terrestrial means or wait until the next generation of GNSS systems is ready for use.
On my way back I coasted down to Wolhusen where it got completely dark. From Wolhusen I took a train to Luzern and another one back to Zurich, arriving home at 19:30 pm.
CP visit details:
- Time at the CP: 16:39 p.m.
- Time to reach the CP from home: 10 hours
- Distance to a track: 60 m
- Distance to a road: 160 m
- Topography: extremely steep grade
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 7 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 7 m
- GPS height: 919 m
- Vegetation: Mixed deep beech grove and conifer forest. On the ground foliage and moss.
- Weather: overcast, 4° C (felt temperature)
- Description of the CP: In the western part of Canton Lucerne, in the Goldbach valley, a side valley of the Gross Fontannen.
- Given Name: The Steep Grade Confluence