Cow swamps again

After 2 days in the office I got bored. So I decided to do a little stroll again. Still near and this time only for one day.

Date: 14/06/2017 – Mileage: 36 – Height: 12835 ft

A friend in the office is a fanatic military man. So we talk together and he thinks I should go to Ziegelbrücke. From there I can attack some more mountains. Planed was a route over 55 km and more than 5000 m of height. I hope that the Säntis is free of snow, given the low altitude of the top. First I have to go there, however. From Ziegelbrücke it is not right around the corner.

It’s not that I have nothing to do in the office, but I need time to reflect sometimes and part of my newly developed USP for the labour market is to claim to be a strong hiker. So it adds to my credibility for potential employers. And a strong hiker I am indeed.

I get the first train this time and reach Ziegelbrücke without problems at 6:30 am. Changed my electrolyte drink: Back to Isostar, the juice of choice of Mr Röthlin. The Sponser long energy drink tastes like glue. There’s a mess every time anyways because my Salomon system is kind of difficult to handle. Tried the not so delicate system from Platypus but I found it awkward to turn the mouthpiece every time. So I didn’t hydrate enough. I prepared 4.5 liters of Isostar and hoped it will be enough.

Then there was the weather. We checked every weather forecast in the office. Thunderstorms here, heavy rain there. However in the radar forecasts the storms always stayed on the other side of the Walensee. The route will stay on the opposite side. So it was good to go.

There is overcast but there is no rain. I can hear the thunder, but I see no flashes. The way follows a hollow alley. I expect to see medieval knights every second from now on and I listen nervous into the shadows. The rocks are like backed together from gravel, called conglomerate. It irritates me somehow, because it looks a little bit like trash.

Conglomerate stone

It’s the kind of landscape you expect to see in a cheap Wilhelm Tell movie. Of course there are cows and there is even a sign, explaining what to do when getting to business with cows. This sign however does not cover the newer form of the mother cow system. And mother cows are everywhere.

How to cross a cow herd

There is a brown hare, he is running down the road towards me and turns sharp when he sees me. I follow the street and cross him again. After that, I have the pleasure to go up the cow pastures. The soil is eroded. Unless you can dig a 5 feet hole in useful time, you can forget about digging cat holes on this pastures. Just do your business wherever you like. There is more than enough manure around. Fresh manure attracts flies. These flies go airborne all together. You can try to avoid fresh manure but sometimes it’s impossible because there is that much piled up everywhere.

To avoid being trampled by the mother cows I move on the other side of the fence. The forest is extremely steep but it allows me to go around the somehow lurking herds. Soon I reach the last alp before the first peak, the sky is grey, more rumbling from above. I have to go up to the ridge line and follow up to the top of the Federispitz. From here, one can enjoy a new view to the Lake of Zurich but at the same time the clouds roll in.

A new view – including the dam of Rapperswil

On the top there is thick cloud fog and from my height budget I used 4555 ft or 1388 m. I have other peaks to bag and so I move on quickly. The way is extremely steep and technical, which slows me down. A chamois screams at me, I can spot him just for seconds.

A view from the Speer

Although the way is extremely steep and I have to hike careful in order not to cause rockfall I reach the top of the mountain Speer without problems. From the Speer I can spot the Säntis.

Säntis, view from the Speer

There are other hikers and there is a car park under one hour away. Soon I am again all alone, nobody dares to hike this way on a normal work day. Again the way is extremely technical, steep slopes, over rock faces or loose gravel.

Was up there

It is also like a connection section. Soon enough I am again caught in cow swamp and manure.

Want to go there (to the snow)

The way is never really flat and I use a lot of time to avoid slipping and falling. It is already 15 pm when I reach the town of Stein. There I load additional water. They claim on the sign, that it will take 4 hours up to a place called Windenpass. I manage to do it in 2.5 hours. Stein is at 838 m or 2749 ft of height. The Windenpass on 1630 m or 5347 ft. After the Windenpass I decline to 1300 m and then up again to 2000 m. The way is crazy steep. One wrong step and your life is in serious danger.

Our army uses this rocks as a target practicing range. Ordnance in various forms is everywhere. Although the army did a huge collection effort in 2016 I seriously ask myself how they justify such a huge mess. Littering is a problem even in Switzerland, which is one of the cleanest countries worldwide. Many towns have increased the pressure against littering by tightening the rules and serving fines. The army on the other hand shoots tons of grenades just into the mountains. Even from the way it gives you the feeling to cross a war zone. In Switzerland we are organized: There is even an app for iOS and Android to report unexploded ordnance.

Littering done the proper way

Finally I reach the Stoossattel on 2042 m. Unfortunately it is no way forward. Snow all over and I carry no crampons.

No success

So I have to go down and I have to do this fast. It is 7:40 pm and I have to reach Zurich again today. So I run down the mountain. Again I have to lose 1000 m of height. I made it down at about 10 pm. The public transport arrives at 10:35 and 1:30 am I am at home again.

Again I am happy with this trip. The height I did this time in one day is 12,835 ft or 3912 m plus a distance of 36 miles or 58 km. However, I never felt tired it was just that the way didn’t let me move faster. The trigger shark system works still great. It is so much faster than traditional straps.

My knees still feel strong although they do complain a little bit.

Notable accomplishments: Didn’t fall from the mountains, didn’t roll my ankle once