Thursday morning looked cloudy, but the weather radar said the rain was North of Plagelpass (1550m), so Stefan, Mike and I caught the 7:50 train, and after making a dizzying number of train changes, ended up in Schwyz at 9:10am. There, Mike and I stuffed a left-lugguage locker with our lugguage, and we proceeded up towards Muotothal (624m) along the deceptively easily rolling grade. At Muotathal, we stopped at the grocery store to buy bananas and chocolate before beginning the climb at the edge of town.
The climb, which starts at a furious grade, wound its way along the forest for awhile before becoming much gentler and cooler. I snapped a few pictures while riding, causing Stefan to call me "not a serious photographer", which I happily admitted to, preferring the uninterrupted cycling experience to better pictures. Even unloaded, it took us until 11:00am to get to the top. From the summit, we could easily see that the surrounding peaks had a fresh coating of powder from the recent storms, which had brought snow levels down to as little as 2000m. Stefan was still hoping to get to work at a reasonable hour, so he took off down the hill at a furious pace. I had neglected to get reasonable pictures of the Kloentaler See before, so I did not make that mistake this time, stopping 2 or 3 times to get a few pictures.
The descent to Glarus (472m) didn't take long at all, and Stefan sped off there to catch the train to Zurich by about 2 minutes. Mike and I kept rolling towards Linthal (648m), stopping in Schwanden for a pizza lunch. I should tell everyone at this point that when you approach Linthal, follow the signs to Ruti, which yields a nicer route with fewer tunnels. I had done so last time but forgot to do so this time. We stopped near Linthal to pick up water and started up the cobblestone section that denoted the start of the climb, along with the bicyclist height and distance signs.
The steep sections above Linthal this time were much more enjoyable, since the sun had emerged, granting us grand views of the valley and the surrounding high peaks, being snow covered gleamed like teeth in a toothpaste commercial. I snapped several pictures, telling Mike that last time I came through here all I saw was sheets of water coming from the sky.
Once into Urnerboden (1300m), the valley starts and became easy rolling for a while. We stopped in the valley to relieve ourselves and eat more food. Despite our 3 days of rest, we did not feel fresh, but instead felt parched, drinking water at a great rate.
Fortunately, the final push up Klausen pass (1948m) is accompanied by progressively cooler temperatures. This time, I really got to appreciate how beautiful the pass was: surrounded by nearly vertical walls, we could see the dark red rocks as we approached the summit. At the top, we stopped to put on warmer clothing and started down the glorius descent, marred only by my consistently juddering brakes, despite new pads freshly installed yesterday. The panaromic views down the valley were nothing short of amazing as you skirt along the mountain side at high speed that you see only in nature documentaries.
The retro-grade past Urigen (1300m) was no problem at all as we swept on and on towards Altdorf. In downtown Altdorf we stopped at the Spar for our usual staples. Mike went in to negotiate the transactions while I recalled my last entry into that supermarket, lips blue and so cold I could not say more than a few words. What a difference two years makes.
It being 5:30, we decided to skip the last ride into Schwyz, and made our way to the Fluelen train station, arriving through the pedestrian passage under the main road just in time to see a train and a conductor. After asking if it went to Schwyz, he motioned us onto the train, and we paid for the tickets once onboard.
Once in Schwyz, we picked up our lugguage and bought tickets for Goschenen (1011m). The train arrived at 6:00pm, and I bought the tickets at 6:02pm, so we were just in time. Dropped off in Goschenen at 6:50, we found lodging at the Hotel Rossli and had a pleasant dinner in the restaurant.