Our last day of vacation was surreal.
Lucerne first offered us some really interesting and historical architecture, a lake, a river and now a mountain. On top of all this wonderfullness, the weather was unseasonably warm (it got up to the mid-70’s) with clear, sunny skies.
We took a city bus to the edge of town (a municipality called Kriens) where the cable cars were. Kailas was tentative at first. Once the car had jumbled out of the loading station and was re-attached to the cable, the ride was silent and smooth.
He loved it then.
I could never become perfectly at ease in those little pods hanging from a wire, but it was much more pleasant than driving, which frequently puts me on edge. We saw several para-gliders soaring above us (who had jumped off of the mountain!) and I was glad that I wasn’t any of those daredevils’ mother.
The elevation of Lucerne is 1,430 feet (436 m). The short bus ride to Kriens took us up to 1,608 feet (490 m). We glided at a fairly step pitch farther up the slope away from the houses, over fields and through forests. We’d definitely made the right decision to hike back down this slope rather than up.
The cable car arrived at Krienseregg and we’d traveled up to an elevation of 3,369 feet (1,026 m). Their were more cable cars to go (and several thousand feet) but our plan was to stop and let the kids play at the park listed on the brochure.
The kids could’ve stayed at this playground all day. And honestly I could’ve too – the view of Mount Pilatus was spectacular.
I think this slide was at least eighty feet long.
The playground was a dream come true for the kids (and for these parents). At one point, Sagan came running back to me with her eyes as big as saucers and exclaimed
“They have a tunnel! It goes underground!”
They also had a small version of a zip line that looked like a lot of fun.
Here’s a photo of Sagan coming out of the tunnel and you can catch a glimpse of a cable car gliding over head in the background.
The kids climbed and swang and teeter tottered and played until their faces were red. They began to want food. I’d prepared a picnic lunch but planned to eat it at the next stop farther up the mountain. I knew we’d never be able to get the kids away from this playground unless I promised them food at the next stop, so we all hopped back on the cable car and waved good bye to the playground (for now).
After a fifteen minute ride we reached Fräkmuntegg at an elevation of 4,649 feet (1,416 m). Here was where the big people play. It is the location of Switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run, and when the kids saw this they completely forgot that a minute ago they were dying of hunger. We ate afterwards.
This giant metal slide was 1,350 meters long (that’s almost a mile!) and the sled has a hand break. Sagan went down by herself. She was brought back up by a cable while sitting on her sled.
She picked a few flowers for me on the way up.
We had our picnic (and I had some Swiss Miss cocoa -seriously) and decided we wanted to go all the way up. We walked to the large gondolas to buy our tickets. These were different than the cable cars; one goes up while the other comes down. Outside, three musicians were blowing Swiss alphorns and I videotaped them.
It was standing room only in the gondola. We’d seen many extraordinary views so far on our two week vacation, but these were unparalleled.
The snow was melting and so the steps were wet with puddles of water, but we made the trek up to the top. I don’t think Sagan will ever forget the views. We hiked up the Tomlishorn, as high as we could go, which was at an elevation of 6,994 feet (2,132 meters).
She also won’t ever forget that playground, either. We headed back down the mountain with the plan to hike the last leg of the journey, stopping one more time at the playground for another hour of fun.
Instead of taking the last cable car down, we set out on the path that lead into the woods.
Everything was green and lush and we only saw a few other humans and no cars. Oh how wonderful that was.
But there were lots of cows. We heard the clanking of their bells several minutes before we actually spotted them.
Those creatures must be deaf by now.
So that was a great ending to our vacation. We spent another half day in Lucerne before taking the TGV back to Lyon. On the ride back, Sagan had a few hours to catch up on her homework.
Back to our “other” life we go…
Here is a wonderful pdf of Pilatus with maps and descriptions for more information.
For a view in real time, check out this Pilatus webcam at the peak.