It seems we've caught a couple of days of glorious weather, which is a marvellous way to welcome friends from my hometown of Hood River, Oregon, who have come to bike the Jura mountains with me.
Lee Greenwald is a retired doctor who has visited Switzerland with me several times, and Jay Sherrerd is a lawyer with whom I've climbed and backpacked many times in the Pacific Northwest. They had both been quite nervous about the weather forecast, but the sun broke through just as they climbed off the train in Delle yesterday.
We're biking through spectacularly beautiful farm country as we penetrate deeper into the Jura mountains, named for the Celtic word for forest. This morning we saw a sign on a barn calling to "free Jura", and later we saw border stones with the Bern bear on them. That's because this used to be part of the canton of Bern until a separatist movement in the late 1960s wrested the French-speaking Jura from the control of German-speaking Bern. But language may have had less to do with it than ancient issues between the forested countryside with small villages and the powerful former city-state of Bern (now Switzerland's capital). During the separatist period (Jura Libre) there were a few stone-throwing street fights, but a favourite tactic was to kidnap various Swiss icons, including the great stone that's at the heart of Switzerland's early national sport of throwing the giant “unspunnen stone”.
This morning we started in Fahy and we're not sure where we'll end up this evening. We're about to drop way down to the Doubs River, only to have to climb up the other side - and then down to the Doubs again, cutting off a giant bend in the river, just as the border does. So our distance depends on whether we'll have the energy to push our own giant stones - pack-laden bicycles - up the other side this afternoon.