Day five was beautiful. We drove to a small car park and then walked up toward a mountain pass. I have nothing against gondolas but they do feel a little bit like cheating sometimes. The sky was clear, the track was good and I was informed that they also ski down it in the winter. The very best part of the walk up though was a family of young marmots living beside the track. I first ran into them when hiking in the Pyrennes but these ones were much cuter.
After that we hiked up over the pass and along a ridge-line with views of the Seealpsee valley and Mt Santis towering at its head. Then there was a quick coffee at the Berggasthaus Schäfler. Hiking in Appenzell isn’t just for the young so when you get to the top of a mountain you are quite likely to find a restuarant bustling with people of every age and shape. There are easy paths and hard and since you can catch a gondola up and then walk a short distance for lunch it is all rather civilised. I had a coffee and we carried on.
The next part was slightly steeper with a large drop but since all the worst parts had a wire rope to hang onto it wasn’t really a problem. And it was truly stunning. Looking down into the valley with the jangle of bells and at one point the faint sound of an Alpenhorn drifted up from the farm below. Later we watched an eagle circle above as it gained height to cross the ridge-line. There are only two in the surrounding area so I count myself fortunate to have seen one.
We sidled along the valley until we reached Berggasthaus Mesmer for lunch where I tried yet another traditional Swiss dish called a rosti. It is sort of a plate sized deep fried hash brown (some describe it as a cross between a hash brown and a pancake) and in my case it also had cheese and bacon. If I had a complaint it would be that it was a little salty for me but otherwise delicious. I would also recommend the non-alcoholic cider they make in Appenzell called Bschorle. It is very very nice.
Then was the long downhill. Mr Frodo said that in the winter you can ski all the way from the top of Mt Santis down the very steep path we were on all the way to the bottom of the Seealpsee valey if there is enough snow. Around six kilometers. I told him he was crazy. It appears he isn’t though because we ran into a couple who very nicely said they would drive us back to our car in the next valley over and the guy said he had skied it with Mr Frodo. They had also been to New Zealand and he had proposed to his wife there while diving off Coromandel. I am not sure whether he actually had a ring at the time though because all their gear got stolen while parked at Kelly Tarltons in Auckland.
I didn’t need dinner that night. The rosti had been enough.