We saw the mighty Rhine in Germany. Several rivers feed into it, including the Aare (also known as the Aar). The Aare is the longest river that both begins and ends entirely within Switzerland. It flows from the Aar Glaciers of the Bernese Alps and joins with the Rhine in Koblenz. When they merge, it actually surpasses the Rhine in volume. Seeing the size of the Aare close to its source, I’m not surprised. It flows quickly and is ice-cold. It’s snowmelt after all.
The Evil Genius wanted to stop by and see the Aare Gorge (also known as the Aareschlucht) while we were in nearby Meiringen. We weren’t sure what to expect, but ended up being overwhelmed by it. It is truly an amazing sight.
At the end of the Ice age, torrential runoff water from melting glaciers eroded a deep, narrow chasm. Over thousands of years, the Aare’s tumbling waters continued to erode the limestone rock, further carving out the gorge replete with niches, caves and hollows. In fact, the water gets its greenish tint from tiny particles of eroded limestone. They don’t need to die it green for St. Patty’s Day (unlike the Chicago River).
We entered a tunnel carved from the rock and exited onto a metal walkway suspended over the rushing water. At first, walking over the torrent was a bit unsettling. It didn’t take long for amazement to take over. Isolated in the valley, we only heard the rushing waters echoing off the walls.
The dramatic setting immediately impressed us. Wandering along, we became even more awestruck. Not knowing much about the gorge, we had no idea of its size and scale. It is 1400 meters long (0.87 miles) and 200 meters (656 feet) deep.
At points, it is only 1 meter (3 feet) wide!
Before the walkway was built, the only way to see it was from a boat. The gorge was unfamiliar and frightening. Legend’s about what was in the gorge abounded. For example, in 1814 there was a report of a monster. It’s body resembled that a snake, but with a round head and legs. It allegedly had a big mouth, sharp teeth, evil eyes, and made terrifying whistling sound. Locals called it a “Tatzelwurm.” We didn’t see any sign of this beast. Apparently we are very poor mythical beast spotters. We didn’t see any sign of the Loch Ness Monster when we were there either.
Eventually, the fissure widens a bit allowing you to see some of the cool things erosion has created. There were several waterfalls. The river widened enough to allow us to see rocks and rapids. We even saw a cave that had been converted to military use in the buildup to the second world war.
We saw more evidence of Switzerland’s military preparedness. I’m guessing that wall and door inside the cave isn’t the work of the glacier and this use to contain something other than sand. Just a hunch.
Not surprisingly, the lack of direct sunlight and the icy waters combine to make it a good deal cooler than the surrounding countryside. Who cares, the view is worth it.
Oh, and when you emerge. This is your view. What’s not to love?
- Day trip from Geneva: The Aareschlucht (theadventuresofmisswidgetandherpeople.wordpress.com)
- The Reichenbach Falls: Meiringen’s Main Attraction (theadventuresofmisswidgetandherpeople.wordpress.com)
- Hiking The Beautiful Bernese Oberland (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- Thun, Worth Making A Stop On The Way To Interlaken (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- You can’t leave Meiringen without a meringue (or four!) (theadventuresofmisswidgetandherpeople.wordpress.com)