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The Engelberg Aa Gorge

As there was little snow and the weather forecast was not too bad, I set out to go for a great classic that was often repeated. It was the descent of the Engelberg Aa Gorge. Even though I had been doing this on a regular basis, the fun was always the same at each rehearsal.

These gorges have been turned upside down since the early 2000s and the route I used to follow until those years have completely changed since. Indeed, in August 2005 there were memorable floods across Switzerland. Some areas saw their landscape altered by the force of the water. This was also the case for Engelberg, which had been cut from the rest of the world for several weeks before a temporary solution was put in place. It was only in 2007 that traffic was restored to the original route for the road and for the train.

Although the road and train were quickly rehabilitated, it took a few more years before the trail at the bottom of the gorge was restored. The terrain had been so altered by the flood that it was no longer possible to restore the trail to its original route.

Previously, and since the mid-1970s, the trail changed banks three times before reaching Obermatt: the first time just before the mouth of the Arnibach, the second time just after the mouth of the Arnibach and the third time over the large stone bridge just before Obermatt. Today, as many as eight shoreline changes are required. For some crossings, suspension bridges were built high enough to prevent further flooding from destroying these structures. This required the construction of strong anchors in difficult terrain.

Here and there, sections of the old trail can still be seen on the other bank. But long stretches of the trail have completely disappeared, eroded by bulldozing water. One area, however, has been preserved: the hole through a rocky spire that the trail cuts through.

One thing has changed compared to what I remember: the presence of picnic places where the equipment to grill sausages is available. Another important difference is the disappearance of the Obermatt stop. Until December 2010, it was possible to board the train at this point to return to Engelberg. The train stopped was made compulsory by the crossing of the trains. Since the opening of the tunnel, the outer line has completely disappeared, as have the stops at Obermatt and Grüenewald. This means that, when you want to return to Engelberg, you must walk further to the Grafenort stop, extending the hike by an hour.

A novelty has recently been introduced at the Grafenort stop: the stop is now available on request, and you must not forget to press the corresponding button if you want the train to stop.

Route: Engelberg – Genisee – Aa Gorges – Obermatt – Grafenort
Distance: 8.5Km
Altitude gain: 30m positive / 465m negative
Duration: 2h30

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