From a movie I watched recently I picked up the sentence go beyond your body’s complaints. In there it was said by a person with not so good intentions, but for me, it pretty much sums up most of my exercises and mountain endeavours, in a good way. And for me, it’s going beyond both the body’s and mind’s complaints, especially when doing things by myself.
I did the season’s first alpine hike on this Saturday, on a mountain called Marwees in the Alpstein massif in Appenzell, which offers a nice ridge and about an hour of demanding alpine hiking route, alpinwanderweg (further explanations in here), with excellent views (if you manage your nerves well enough to pay attention to them). And it was definitely a tour which brought me beyond my body’s and mind’s complaints.
It was steep, it was narrow and it was challenging, and it was more than once I thought why did I come up here, head all dizzy and legs a bit shaky. But in the end, I did it, and even though the legs were mashed especially after the final downhill (total 17,5km, 1199m up and 1199m down, 6h) it was again one of those things which brought me forward, mentally and physically and trained my nerves.
For the same tour (note that it’s demanding and only for the very experienced hikers) go from Wasserauen (in Appenzell region in Eastern Switzerland) to Seaalpsee and head up to Meglisalp from there. Then, turn left and up from the tiny settlement and in the crossroad of paths on the shoulder choose the blue-white path leading to Marwees (or well the exact mountaintop stays in the left while you continue the path on the right side to the ridge) and eventually to Bogartenlücke and back to Wasserauen.
On this tour, many were passing me another way round, so I guess it’s good (might be even better) the other way round. That way, you also have the excellent chance to continue the bluewhite path to and over Hundstein and from there down to Fälensee.
This time, as it was a very hot day, I did a little detour in the last section, to dip sweaty myself into the Seealpsee, which that time of the day around 6 pm had gotten rid of most of the day tour and picnic crowds and was just enough cool to give a brief remedy to the aching muscles and joints.
Extra tip: Alpine routes aka the alpinwanderweg are extremely good for the skilled ones during the high season since the easily reachable sights like the Seaalpsee normally have almost (just almost though) too many people on the paths leading to there and back. This time lack of funds also kept me away from the cable cars, which is another good way to avoid time wasted in lines and crowded paths (and save money and get extremely good exercise).
And if you wonder, that wagon over there is the station bar in Wasserauen. One of the cutest I’ve seen in my adventures.
The trip was easy. It was no more dangerous than crossing the street, or driving to the beach, or eating peanuts. The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision. And I knew even then that I would forget them time and time again and would have to go back and repeat those words that had become meaningless and try to remember.
© Robyn Davidson – Tracks
Where: Wasseruaren – Seealpsee – Meglisalp – Marwees – Wasserauen, Alpstein massif, Appenzell, Switzerland (map)
Just when I said I don’t recommend sneakers for these trails, I caught the weekend crowds at the end of my Saturday speed hike from Hoher Kasten, half of them taking careful steps on the slippery and rocky path from Wasserauen to Seealpsee, and the other way round. Everyone has the right to their own style though, but still, I’d highly recommend sturdy hiking/trekking shoes for these trails. Or trailrunning ones, with the sticky sole. Because I’m really worried when looking you stumbling with the not ideal for the occasion, no matter how trendy, Nike Frees.
This time I took my trailrunning shoes to Alpstein, to take a speedy tour from Hoher Kasten to Wasserauen. First, I took the train and bus to Brülisau and from there the Kastenbahn up to Hoher Tauern and the excellent 360° views (and many pics). From Hoher Tauern, after tightening up my shoes and backpack, I ran (and occasionally walked and stopped), past Berggasthaus Staubern and more nice views, before stopping for an Appenzeller beer at Berggasthaus Bollenwees.
After the beer, and almost swim in Fählensee, I took the hilly route over Bogartenlücke to Wasserauen train station, from where the train home. Overall, it was appr. 17 km hike, which in the end would have been better the other way round, as the 1600m descent would have been better as the ascent, and the 1000m descent better for the ascent. Nevertheless, I and my knees survived, and you can do it the better way, now when you know (though in that case, please take into an account the gondola timetable from Hoher Kasten more carefully).
Hoher Kasten, as I know very well by now, has one of the best views to Rhine Valley (Rheintal) and to the whole Alpstein Massif and Appenzell (the region, not just the town). And like said many times already, when hiking and running around here, the extensive network of guesthouses takes care of your energy and hydration level more than fine. Just remember to take cash and enough time with you when going.
Where: Hoher Kasten – Staubern – Bollenwees – Wasserauen runhike, appr. 17km & 5h (map)