Walking: Urnäsch to Appenzell

We picked out a wonderful-sounding walk for our stay in St. Gallen. But it would be getting warm that day, which meant taking an early train to the small town of Urnäsch and getting some miles under foot before the skies cleared. It was the start of an epic day, and one of our best walks on the trip.

It was still a little drizzly when we got to Urnäsch, where we began walking up and out of the town through farms and eventually into a forest. The hike ahead of us would be stage three of the Alpenpanoramaweg, a long-distance path that goes all the way across Switzerland. This stage would take us to the picturesque town of Appenzell, 13 kilometers (a wee bit more than 8 miles) away.

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The path led past very curious cows, often in close proximity. To us, that is.

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Things to note about German trails: They are very well-signed, and there are a lot of benches.

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Once out of the forest, the sun began to break through the mist, in a distinctly Wagnerian way.

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Civilization re-appeared in the form of Jakobsbad, a small town with a hanging cable car that glides up to a mountaintop (still cloudy up there, so forget that), a toboggan run, and the beginning of the Barfussweg. What is the Barfussweg? Here’s a clue.

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Right – the Barefoot Way is a path suited for bare feet. So we had to do that. That grass looks pretty soft, doesn’t it?

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It is possible that even these gnomes are barefoot.

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The valley trail passes through a couple more towns, and shortly after we put our boots back on — because it was more comfortable to wear ’em instead of carry ’em — we were promptly chided in Swiss-German-English by a nice lady who was also out walking — with bare feet.

We crossed paths with a young man herding his cattle into a barn. He was barefoot, amazingly. So were the cows.

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We stopped for a picnic in the shade of a shooting-range cabin. Nobody was firing that day. It took a minute to figure out what the place was, and what this door implied.

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We also saw a number of little storage shacks (Toobeschopfe) scattered about the countryside.

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Now it was getting hotter, so we stopped to wash our arms at one of the (brilliant) periodic cold-water wells along the way. This one was specifically designed for the traveler to dip up to the elbows. (Why didn’t we get a picture of this cool thing, called a Kalte Armbad? Because our hands were wet, duh.) But here’s a picture from another website:

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Appenzell came into view not a minute too soon.

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Along with lots of gingerbread and half-timbered buildings, Appenzell has a big, beautiful, public outdoor swimming pool. That seemed like an apt destination for a hot day, and we had a great time cooling off in the pool.

Obviously, this needed to be followed by cake. The Landbäckerei provided the goods.

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We also got a few things to take away, including samples of the Appenzell staple Biberli, which is a gingerbread concoction. A stroll through town followed, before we caught a train back to St. Gallen.

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Along with the sweets, R got another Appenzell product to go. We were all set after a long day.

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Next stop: Germany’s Black Forest. <Detours Ahead>

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