Ben and Nick's European Vacation

Nick and Ben cycle from Sweden to Switzerland and beyond. Check out our cycling trip to Patagonia.

Ben Heumann
Nick Cowan

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Original Post:

After cycling through 100+ kph winds on Lac Leman (the news reported maximum winds of 160 kph), we are resting and hiking at the Chalet Moreau near Monthey, Switzerland. During the storm, Nick bombed ahead to a small village and took shelter in a farmer's workshop, while I just stuck in the worst of it and after being blown off my bike from the winds, barely managed to take cover behind a cement pillar. After the storm passed, we cycled 20 km to Monthey over and around fallen branches and trees, then made the 11km, 700m climb up to Vince's. Vince and his family have been wonderful hosts, providing us with great food and comfortable beds. Today, we hiked to one of the near by peaks (elevation 2100 m), just a stone's throw from France. What amazed us was the fact that our entire hike was in cow pasture, even in the alpine zone near the top. Switzerland has a fantastic network of hiking paths through the mountains that are well marked going every direction. Tomorrow, we are going to try and se if we can get well into the Alpine zone and maybe reach some snow. On the 21st we are heading to Zurich.
Cycling and Hiking Notes:

Day 16: The Weathers Gods Get Their Revenge (Laussane to Monthey, Switzerland) 74km.
So we lied. We still had more cycling to do, down to see my friend and former MOCer, Vince. Our route took us along the shore of Lac Leman through Montreux, then up the Rhone River to Monthey. From Monthey, we had a 700m climb over 12km to Vince’s parents’ house. Cycling to Monthey was beautiful, the lake on one side and vineyards on the other. The Montreux Jazz Festival had just finished, and the town was still full of upper class tourists. We seemed a little out of place.
As we left Monthey, the skies over the lake started to darken. Nick and I decided to skip a castle tour at Chillion, and try to beat the rain. 20km later it began to rain. Nick sprinted ahead, I stopped to put on my jacket. Five minutes later, the rain was so heavy, I couldn’t see with my glasses on. Then the wind picked up and blew me off my bike. I tried to pick my bike up and walk, but the wind was too strong and I fell again. The wind whipped the rain against my bare skin like stinging nettles. I grabbed the rest of my rain gear and crawled to a nearby cement pillar about 3 feet high, where I took shelter form the wind and rain. Any attempt to move out from my tiny place of shelter was greeted with stinging rain. After about 10 minutes, the winds dropped down enough that I could barely walk. I grabbed my bike and slowly cycled down the road, to where I saw Nick’s bike leaning against a building. Nick popped out and invited me into a farmers shop, where he had waited out the storm. We sat there until the rain stopped. When we started cycling again, with awesome tailwinds, we could see the damage from the storm all over the road, leaves and branches covered the road. As we made our way up the Rhone, we noticed that a second wave was coming. Despite the down trees across bike path, we pushed hard to stay ahead of the storm. The storm caught up with us, but we were lucky enough to take shelter under a bridge, where we had lunch. After half an hour, the rain lightened up, we cycled into Monthey and up to Vince’s, where we were welcomed with warm showers, laundry, a hot meal, and comfortable beds.

The Storm.

Nick couragously battles a fallen tree (we cycled around it).

Day 17: A Little Hike (no cycling!)
Nick and I took a little hike up to a peak (elevation 2050m). We took Vince’s dog Shoyu, who not only showed us the way, but showed us how slow we were by run back and forth and up and down and around and around during the whole hike. From the top, we could see France and Lac Leman. On the way back, we checked out the little village of Morgain.

Vince and Dalton

Shoyu wondering why Nick and I are stopping for to catch our breathes.

Pretty Mountains

Morgain, Switzerland.

The Fellowship, plus one.

Mountain Man, Ben

Day 18: A Big Hike
On our arrival to Chez Moreau, I mentioned that I wanted to play in the snow. And play in the snow we did. Vince played guide and took us to an awesome valley behind Les Dents de Midi. We cycled 15km each way, losing then gaining 400m each time from Vince’s to the trail head. As for the hike, I can only let the pictures speak. Wow. I would like to mention that the Moreau's extended great hospitality to us, feeding us and giving us beds. Thank You.

View from the Valley

Nick's "stationary" clouds.

Ninjas in the snow (from left: Vince, Nick, Ben).

Nick and Vince cross a snow field.

Alpine Snowfields

Chains and Ladders; This is the last steep climb to the top, where Nick and Vince went. I remained behind to contemplate the earth in peace.


The Big Melt

The view from the top.

Alpine Portraits