Wednesday, August 29, (Day 12)
weather: sunny, warm (75-80)
It is another beautiful day in Switzerland on Lake Lucerne! We woke up early this morning since we are meeting canoe outfitter (Adventure Point) on the lake at 8am. Our meeting place was a whole 5-minute walk from our apartment, so it was quite easy to find. We had scoped it out last night even. Thankfully, Adventure Point speaks enough English to give us our instructions before setting off.
We were amazed at all the various instruction we were given before we could set off. Firstly, we got the weather report which stated a thunderstorm at 6pm, but great until then. Also, we were told where the wind would be coming from and given the best route to take to avoid all the larger boat traffic like the ferries. The guy pointed out that we should stay within 20 meters of the shoreline to see the most interesting things as well as to stay out of the wind or large wakes from the boats. We had planned to do this anyway. But most amusing was when he gave us the exact amount of fines that we would incur should we go between the yellow areas. We will stay away from the areas we are not allowed in. =)
By 8:30am we were in our canoe and off along the lake. Brunnen sits at the intersections of Lake Uri and Lake Lucerne. Lake Uri is much smaller and was the better lake for canoe-ing. I thought we might be able to canoe the entire perimeter, but a large chunk of the lake was heavy with ferry traffic and not great for us in a little canoe. Instead we first had to cross the lake, then go along the western bank down to the town of Bauen, turn around, come back and if we had more time canoe along the southwestern bank of Lake Lucerne.
And that’s what we did. It turns out that crossing the lake was the most difficult part. We had to wait for all the boat traffic to move and then we canoed fast to cross the lake. There were a few spots where we had to turn perpendicular to some wakes, but we made it across pretty easily. There isn’t too much traffic early in the morning.
We stayed in the canoe along the bank of Lake Uri all the way until 11:30am, ducking into many of the little coves and admiring the tall rock structures towering over us on the bank. Most of the bank was basically a rock cliff, so there wouldn’t be any place to come ashore even if we wanted to. There was one main natural obelisk coming up out of the water at one point. Another time we looked up to see some goats up above us giving us the evil eye. The goat was not happy with us being in his zone and started snorffing at us. There was nothing he could do of course since we were far below in the water, but it was funny.
We saw some other people out in kayaks and a couple out in a row boat as well. Some of the little coves had tiny little rock caves. There were all very tiny little caves, no more than a scoop out of the rock wall, but they made fun sounds as the water lapped against the rocks inside. We got lots of glug sounds in those areas.
Mostly, we just really enjoyed ourselves. Last time we’ve been canoe-ing was in Africa over a year ago and it was fun to be out on the water again. We found ourselves in Bauen with a little place for us to beach the canoe and bring it up on shore. It was actually relaxing just to sit on shore with the life jackets as a sitting pad and stare out into the water. Before heading back out, though, we took a walk in the town to find lunch at Hotel-Restaurant Schiller. We both had sausage with sauerkraut that was mighty tasty. We had arrived just as a ferry carrying many, many tourists also arrived, so the place was pretty busy. We were in no rush, though.
Back on the water at 12:30p or so, we stayed in the canoe all the way until 4:15p. We found that canoe-ing back towards Brunnen from Bauen was getting to be a bit windy and the water was all choppy. Plus the sun was quite intense shining down on us, so we often went into the little tiny cove areas to take breaks in the shade. Also, the boat traffic on the lake had picked up quite a bit, but along the shore we weren’t really affected. We just had to be careful when we canoed past a pier where a ferry might come in.
We canoed along the bank of Lake Lucerne for a bit as well. The bank here was very different from Lake Uri even though we weren’t so far away. Here the shore actually came down to the water with lush plants and trees and without the tall rocky cliffs. It was easier to find shade here and we went about as far as we wanted before turning around.
We had one little moment of fun when we had to canoe past a ferry point. One ferry was leaving and another was coming in. We had a little excitement as we quickly went through between them. There was enough time of course, but it was fun. And, finally, it was time to make the final crossing across the lake to go back to Brunnen.
At 4 in the afternoon, there was a lot more traffic on the lake. Sailboats were out, zippy power boats, and of course the ferries. We waited on one side until the lake on both sides was completely clear of all traffic and then we tried to book it across the lake. Wow, that lake is huge when you are tired after a full day of paddling! It felt like we’d never get to the other side, but of course we made it.
Canoe stats: 18km, 8.1kph max speed, 3.6kph avg speed, 7 hours on the water
Adventure Point was already there waiting for us and he stored the canoe while we got our stuff and headed back to the apartment. We didn’t seen any indication of the 6pm storm that was supposed to roll in. So, we went out on the town. We did a little souvenir shopping, got some more groceries for dinner at home, and got some information from the tourist info about an alphorn concert that would take place tonight if the weather was good.
At home we made some dinner and watched as the 6pm storm turned into the 7pm storm. The clouds rolled in and the wind whipped the trees around bending some nearly in half! It was quite a storm and we were happy to be dry inside the house. I guess no alphorn concert for us, though. =( It was a great day, though. Tomorrow we have to leave our lovely apt and head over to the small village of Appenzell. We really have had a great stay here.