05 Feb Via Claudia Augusta
After spending some quality time with Petra’s childhood friend, we hit the road again and pick up another well known route called, Via Claudia Augusta that heads south and over the Alps. The morning is wet, damp, and cold and as we left the city limits of Augsburg it turned into a heavy fog and the ground is once again covered with snow. Despite the nasty weather we were able to cycle 40 miles before stopping for the night.
With the weather being so yucky, there really is not much to see, but we did come across these folks out for a late afternoon sleigh ride.
Eventually, it is starting to get dark and we need to find a place to crash for the night. We enter a small town along our way and again knock on a farmer’s door to see if we can pitch our tent somewhere on their property. Their initial response was, “Really, in this weather you want to camp?”, “You are making fun of us, where is the hidden camera because nobody camps in this weather!” After several minutes of convincing them that, yes we want to spend the night in freezing weather outside in our tent, they took us to an area (picture below) to set up our tent. Then they insisted that when we were done, that we were to come into the house to warm up and have some hot tea and muffins. Over tea and muffins, we met the entire family and answered lots of questions regarding out adventure. It is moments like this that make our trip so wonderful.
To our surprise ,when we woke up the skies were clear and we knew it was going to be a great day of cycling. There is something about blue skies and sunshine that lift the spirits. Despite the snow and cold air, we are excited to get going and hope to get our first glimpse of the Alps today. The roads are quiet and the scenery is … well, you can see from the pictures below how pretty it is.
Finally, there they are, the Alps, off in the distance and we can not wait to cycle through them.
Our route takes us through several small towns and past quite a few lakes, but we are getting closer.
A very well known castle along our route is Schloss Neuschwanstein. We have been here and visited it several times in the past, so we are not stopping this time other than to take this picture.
Shorty after cycling by Neuschwanstein, we met a young lady from Britain who we chatted with for quite a while, that we actually lost track of time and the sun was setting fast behind the mountains. So we said our goodbyes and cycled down the road, looking for another place to pitch our tent for the night. Just like the past several nights, we look for a farm and knock on the door. We introduce ourselves and we get the same puzzled look as if we are truly out of our minds. However, once they are convinced that yes, we are a bit nutty, they smile and show us a place to pitch our tent.
We are happy to wake up to clear blue skies again, because today is possibly going to be a long day of climbing. Our goal today is to hopefully make it over the Fern Pass before it gets dark. The route is about 30 miles and it is pretty much all up hill except for maybe the 3 miles of downhill once we crest the pass.
Much of the Via Claudia Augusta is covered with snow and ice, so our route is a good mixture today of snow and ice bike paths and clear roads.
Since we are in the Alps, there are lot’s of skiers, so we kind of stick out like a sore thumb as we cycle past a few of the ski slopes.
Continuing up towards the Fern Pass, we stop to take a few breaks and to look back at some of the amazing views. Although the breaks are short we do enjoy the views. Before reaching the summit it is officially dark and we still have about 5 miles of downhill to reach the next town. We stop briefly at the top to put on warmer clothes and our helmets with extra lights. By now it is dark, real dark, and the traffic is heavy, the road is very narrow, and there is zero room for errors while cycling down. Needless to say, we made it off the mountain safely and decided to get a warm room, a hot shower, a hot dinner, and a cold beer for our effort today.