We got an early start on day six in an effort to beat the rush and caught the first gondola to the top of Hoher Kasten at 1,794 metres above sea level. Well worth the lack of effort. Climbing up would have taken hours but once you are up there you can walk the ridge line between Canton Appenzell and Canton St Gallen with views over Switzerland, the mountains and , on the other side of the River Reine, Austria.
On the way we stopped at Gasthaus Staubern where it was pointed out that there was a postbox high on the cliff. This postbox used to be at Gasthaus Staubern and mail was picked up every two weeks but the post office didn’t like going up in winter so they asked them to bring it down. They said, “No. It’s your box, come and get it” and things must have deteriorated from there as shortly afterwards the postbox was moved to a position a couple of hundred feet up a cliff face.
The ridge walk continued until we dropped down to Berggasthaus Bollenwees at before lunch time. We had a couple of beers and then continued down to Berggasthaus Plattenbödeli as there was a special dish I wanted to try that wasn’t on the menu at Berggasthaus Bollenwees. Bizarrely, I can’t remember what the dish was now. It did have a special Appenzeller sausage as part of it but I forget the name. Either way, it was a lovely meal with the only downside being the wasps that appear to also be a speciality of the Appenzeller region in summer. No one got stung but it was annoying and it paid to check your drink before taking a gulp.
One of the benefits of the gondola system is that once you are at the top it is mostly downhill so after lunch we had a long slow walk back to the base station to pick up the car. Along the way we passed people struggling their way up the hill to the restaurant, some even dragging a child in a push chair. Something the Appenzellers regard as stupid as occasionally someone slips and the push chair (and child) plunge downhill.
As this night was my last in Appenzell Mr Frodo had arranged for me to stay at his families hut where we had gone on the first night. So it ended as it had begun with a barbecue and beers with friends although a considerably earlier night than the first one. Afterwards I sat by the fire in the dark and thought about how lucky I am to have been able to come and see Appenzell and how much my life has changed since walking Te Araroa.