Monthly Archives: July 2016

Cyclocross on the frontier north of the Rhine

July 27th

Itinerary:  Footbridge Nohl – Rheinau – Ellikon am Rhein (German side) – circuit around the frontier – Rheinsfelden power station, all by bicycle

Distance: 45,3 km
Time: 5 hours (plus 20 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance:  620 m uphill; 630 m downhill

After Schaffhausen there is a stretch of frontier on the Rhine, then a large part of Switzerland north of the Rhine – mainly the canton of Zurich but also a small exclave of the canton of Schaffhouse – starting opposite Ellikon am Rhein and finishing upstream of Eglisau power station at Rheinsfelden. Then the frontier lies in the middle of the Rhine all the way to Basle.

My reconnaissance on July 16th showed it would be very difficult to access the river, both with a kayak and by car, where the frontier hits it about 1½ km below Nohl (2½ km below the Rhine Falls). Furthermore, there are 3 weirs, all requiring portage of the kayak, around the “loop” of Rheinau, famous for its abbey on an island in the Rhine. So I decided to do this stretch by bicycle.

I left home at 5.55 a.m. and drove to Eglisau railway station north of Zurich getting there in good time to reassemble Sally’s bicycle (inside the car with the front wheel off) and prepare my rucksack before taking the train to Neuhausen (near the Rhine Falls) at 8.40 a.m. From Neuhausen station it was less than 2 km to the Nohl footbridge, the actual start of the day’s circuit. I followed good cycle tracks on the Swiss side up to Rheinau, where I crossed the Rhine to do the next part on the German side (no bridge at Ellikon am Rhein).

The rest of the land circuit was mostly on paths and untarred roads in forests or in open agricultural land, with the occasional track that was either no longer there or completely overgrown (but luckily not with brambles!) or very muddy and/or steep, or led through a fenced-off field, probably somewhat worse on the German side of the frontier. A lot of up and down, all quite exhausting.  Finally I reached the end of the day’s circuit at the Eglisau (Rheinsfelden) power station where it is possible for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the river.

A further 3-4 km on the main road took me back to Eglisau railway station, from where I was able to drive home again. Total round trip – just over 12 hours.


1.  Another view of the Rhine Falls
2.  Rheinau abbey (taken on July 16th)
3.  An interesting border stone, called Rafzerstein
4.  Border stone with coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Baden

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On July 13th, we left Walter at the Youth Hostel in Richterswil on Lake Zurich – he will fly to Spain on July 14th. Then we drove home.

The weekend of July 16th/17th is foreseen for a reconnaissance along the Rhine downstream of Schaffhausen. There are about 7-8 dams and power stations between Eglisau and Birsfelden and I need to decide where we can embark and disembark with the kayak and which sections can or should be done by bicycle.

Then Sally and I are going to Scotland to attend the wedding of our eldest daughter Sonia!

I will resume the circuit from July 27th onwards.

The (triumphant) end of my circuit of the Swiss frontiers will take place on Saturday, August 6th in Basle:

1.  Arrival by kayak at the Dreiländereck around 15.30 – 16.00
2.  Celebration and drinks
3.  Evening meal together in a restaurant from 18.00.  Everyone is welcome

Please send a short message to Sally ( ) before July 30th if you want to join us for the meal.  Thank you in anticipation!

Finished with the mountains!

July 12th

Itinerary:  Pfälzer Hut – Sücka – Triesenberg – Triesen

Distance:  17,5 km
Time: 4 hours 30 minutes (plus 20 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance:  170 m uphill; 1580 m downhill

It rained a lot during the night. In the morning, it was no longer raining but the sky was overcast with lots of clouds hiding the peaks.  We decide to go down to the Rhine as directly as possible and leave the hut at 8.50 a.m.  After 2 hours walking, we reach the Berggasthaus Sücka where we hope to have at least a coffee.  A notice board announces that they are closed today due to a bereavement.  Interesting view of Steg – houses and barns around a large rectangle of cultivated fields (see photo).

A short climb followed by a small tunnel takes us to the slopes overlooking the Rhine 1000 meters lower down.  It is colder and there is still fog.  A good path takes us to Triesenberg where we get a little lost among the villas and a fitness trail.  It starts to rain slightly and we find the main road going down to Triesen in hairpin bends (no shortcuts or paths found, either on the map or in the field).  It starts raining more and more strongly and is soon pelting down hard. Sally called me from Balzers where she has just arrived and I asked her to pick us up.  Finally, we reach the first houses in Triesen and are able to shelter under trees, where Sally finds us, completely soaked, 1 km from the Rhine. We go to an inn for a snack and to dry out.

This marks the end of the mountain section between the Samnaun and the Rhine (Silvretta and Rätikon mountain ranges).  My thanks to those that accompanied me – Sonia Roschnik, David Hefti, Christoph Brändle and Walter Roschnik and especially to Sally for the logistics!


1.  Steg, Liechtenstein
2.  First view of the Rhine

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Naafkopf – Liechtenstein

July 11th

Itinerary:  Schesaplana Hut – Gross Furgga – Barthümeljoch – Pfälzer Hut – Naafkopf, 2570 m – Pfälzer Hut

Distance:  14,0 km (9,4 km to the hut, then 4,6 km to the Naafkopf there and back)
Time: 4 hours 50 minutes walking (3 hours 15 to the hut, plus 10 minutes for the stops, then lunch at the Pfälzer Hut before climbing the Naafkopf (1 hour 35 minutes there and back)
Vertical distance: 1100 m uphill; 900 m downhill

Good weather.  It was a fairly easy day.  Walter and I left the Schesaplana Hut at 8.10 a.m.  We went slowly but surely to the hut.  We had to cross countless snow fields and snowy gullies on the last section, including one fairly steep gully.  The Naafkopf was done without rucksacks;  splendid views from the summit.

The Naafkopf is the highest mountain in Liechtenstein, but shared, because it is also the triple point where Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland meet.

Tomorrow Walter and I will go down to the Rhine, which will complete the mountainous part of my circuit.  The weather forecast is bad.

Photo 1:  Pfälzer Hut

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July 10th

Itinerary:  Douglass Hut (Lünersee) – Totalp Hut – Schesaplana, 2964 m – Gamsluggen – Schesaplana Hut

Distance:  14,3 km
Time:  5 hours 10 minutes (plus 1 hour 40 for the stops)
Vertical distance:  1120 m uphill; 1170 m downhill

Fine weather.  Christoph had to leave us; Sally drove Walter and me to the Lünersee cable car.  The parking was more than full;  she could not leave the car anywhere close and so went down to Brand, where she was still able to see and listen to the alphorn players.

From the upper cable car station, Walter and I went up to the Totalp Hut for a drink, then climbed on to the Schesaplana, without any problems except for two short sections of steeper snow.  Beautiful views from the summit.  On the way down we turn off on a path that is well marked but often covered in snow, leading to the Gamsluggen.  Some chains help cross this somewhat tricky col.  Finally, we follow the Prättigauer high level path to the Schesaplana Hut where there is a happy atmosphere.  We eat outside facing the sunset – magnificent!


1. Walter at the Totalp Hut
2. On the Schesaplana
3. Gamsluggen

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Black salamanders and alphorns

July 9th


1st part:  Carschina Hut – Schweizertor – Verajöchli – Douglass Hut (Lünersee)

Distance:  14,4 km
Time:  4 hours 5 minutes (plus 20 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance:  450 m uphill; 690 m downhill

2nd part:  Douglass Hut – Lünerkrinne – bus stop Leidl (near Vandans)

Distance:  12,6 km
Time:  2 hours 40 minutes (plus 10 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance:  230 m uphill;  1400 m downhill

We left the hut at 7.10 a.m. It had rained during the night and it was still very gloomy, with a lot of cloud hiding all the summits. The path was still wet and there were black salamanders almost everywhere, walking on the path, standing on small stones, sometimes mating. After 2 hours we reach Schweizertor and continue up to Verajöchli towards the Lünersee. The weather is gradually improving and we met the first hikers.

At Lünersee there a little sun. We hear alphorns on the other side of the lake, we go round it to the west (good road, almost flat). At the small restaurant of Lünerseealpe there is quite a crowd – two Swiss are giving an alphorn performance. Along the way, we meet other groups of players. We learn that there is an alphorn festival, perhaps sixty different groups from Switzerland and Austria, each group having 3 to 6 players. These groups would stop along the way and play for a few minutes before going on further, and alphorn music could be heard from all around the lake. Incredible party atmosphere!

At the Douglass Hut, where the Lünerseebahn cable car ends, more crowds eating, drinking and taking photos of the players – we do the same!

I have arranged to meet Sally and my (half) brother Walter in Schruns this evening. We walk down almost to Vandans at the bottom of the valley, where it is very hot. We take a break at a bus stop and Christoph discovers that one will arrive within 5 minutes, the service only starting today! And already the small bus is there, we find room in it for the last kilometre down to the station. 40 minutes wait for the next train to Schruns, 4-5 km away, where we are met by Sally. With her, I take a bus to Gargellen to collect our car. Finally, we settle into a hotel (shower, swimming pool and sauna for some) and have a good meal and Christoph and Walter.

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Into Rätikon

July 8th

Itinerary:  Gargellen cable car upper station – Gafier Joch – St. Antönier Joch – Riedchopf, 2530 m – Plasseggenpass – Gruobenpass – Tilisuna Hut – Sulzfluh, 2817 m – Gemschtobel – Carschina Hut

Distance: 24,4 km
Time:  7 hours 35 minutes (plus 1 hour 50 for the stops)
Vertical distance:  1945 m uphill; 1835 m downhill

Good weather at first, then clouds slowly building up. Late start with Christoph after a good breakfast and taking the cable car at 8.30 a.m.  We climbed up to the Gafier Col we reached yesterday, then went north along the ridge and marked paths to the St. Antönier Col, where we arrived just before a large group coming up directly from the cable car.  Then on directly to the Riedchopf summit, where we were able to eat, drink and take photographs and leave just before the large group arrived.  We had to drop down over 500 m before being able to climb up again to the Plasseggenpass, then skirt around the amazing limestone rock formations of the Schijenflue, with a lot of up and down, before reaching the Tilisuna Hut for soup and beer.

We left the hut again at 3 p.m. for the Sulzfluh summit, mainly walking on limestone slabs and scree, and finally on snow, leaving our rucksacks about 20 minutes before the summit.  We were the last on the summit that day.  We went down the fairly steep snow couloirs and scree of the Gemschtobel – Christoph said it was the most enjoyable and least tiring descent he had experienced for a long time.  The sole of his freshly glued boot had held well all day.  Finally, we traversed under the imposing south face of the Sulzfluh to the Carschina Hut, reached in time for supper.


1.  Christoph on Riedchopf
2.  Schijenflue
3.  Dancing across a snow field

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Gargellen – twice!

July 7th

Itinerary: Schlappin – Rätschenjoch – Gafier Joch – Gargellen upper cable car station – Schlappiner Joch – Schlappin

Distance: 24.9 km
Time: 7 hours 55 minutes (plus 40 minutes for stops)
Vertical distance: 1750 m both uphill and downhill

We had a logistical problem with the car: we had to bring it round into the Austrian Montafon, without losing too much time. Finally, we booked rooms in Gargellen, made our circuit on foot to the Gargellen upper cable car station, then we returned to Schlappin to fetch the car and made the car journey to Gargellen in 2 hours

It was beautiful and sunny all day. Christoph and I left with the lightest rucksacks possible at 7.40 a.m. We climbed almost to Schlappiner Joch, where a well-marked path took us under the Schaffürggli to an unnamed col at 2618 m and shortly afterwards to the Rätschenjoch at 2602 m. Beautiful view of a large massif of white limestone, culminating in the Rätschenhorn. We descended some 300 m (in height) on soft, wet snow, following the Prättigauer Höhenweg, before making a steep climb to Gafier Joch, 2415 m, where we reach the border for the first time today. There follows an easy descent to the upper station of Bergbahnen Gargellen, also called Schafbergbahn, where we have a well earned beer!  The descent by cable car would have brought us out 250 m (in height) too low on the road to the Schlappinerjoch. So we walked down and went back up to this pass under sweltering heat.  Christoph found that the sole of his shoe was beginning to come off: emergency repairs with shoe laces and he managed to finish the circuit. The sight of the nice little lake in front of Berggasthaus Erika encouraged him to swim for a few seconds (water perhaps at 8°C).

We leave Schlappin by car and go to Pizolpark centre (Migros et al) in Sargans where a not very enthusiastic Mister Minit managed to glue the sole on again (for how long?)  We get to Gargellen (for the second time) in time for supper.


1.  Hallucinogenic mushrooms on cow pat
2.  Rätschenhorn
3.  No comment!

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July 6th

Itinerary:  Schlappin – Carnäira Joch – Hinterberg, 2682 m – Valzifenzer Joch – Schlappiner Joch – Schlappin

Distance:  22,3 km
Time:  6 hours 55 minutes (plus 1 hour 35 for the stops)
Vertical distance:  1610 m uphill and downhill

I left the very nice Berggasthaus Erika in Schlappin at 5 past 8 a.m.  The start was some 6 km of a gravel road up the valley.  I did not want to do this in mountain boots so walked in running shoes and put the boots and spare socks in my rucksack.  In the end this worked well – the shoes got wet in a grassy meadow and I was able to put on dry socks with the boots at the first col.  The Hinterberg was the only summit in the area I could do safely, going up steep grass and scree on the south side.  All other summits were either too rocky or only accessible up steep snow slopes,

Weather:  more cloud than sun, some cold wind (the forecast was sunny).

Before supper, I collected Christoph Brändle from Klosters Dorf station.  He accompanied me for day last year and will now be a good companion for the next few days.


1.  Kübliser Alp
2.  Selfie at Col Carnäira
3.  and 4.  Conversion of a path into a mountain bike highway

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Rest day

July 5th

Drove by car from Guarda to Schlappin (north of Klosters Dorf) via the Flüela Pass.  This means I have finished with the Engadine and the Silvretta!