Itinerary: Customs post Riehen-Grenzacherstrasse – “Eiserne Hand” – customs post Riehen – customs post Hiltalingerstrasse
Distance: 27,4 km, on foot
Time: 6 hours 10 minutes (plus 30 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance: 660 m uphill, 680 m downhill
It was still necessary to go round the border north of the Rhine between Basle Town (canton Basel Stadt) and Germany, to finish the circuit of the Swiss border. I left a little after 8 a.m. with Christoph Brändle and Urs Scholer, originally from Basle, a former colleague and a good friend. The day would be beautiful and sunny but there was still morning fog in the Rhine valley.
We were soon in the forest going up the Grenzacher Horn and I chose the wrong path from the multitude of paths that crisscrossed in the forest, which cost us some precious time. We passed St. Chrischona and crossed the valley between Riehen and Inzlingen, to reach the Maienbühl farm. This marks the beginning of the “Eiserne Hand”, part of Switzerland which juts into Germany for more than 2 kilometres like a finger or a spear, all in the forest, often with muddy paths. It took a good 45 minutes to walk round this “promontory”, only in the end to reach a place just 200 meters behind the same farm.
At the customs post at Riehen we were joined by Natalie, my younger daughter, her husband Andrew and two of their three children, Léo, 12, and Tessa, 7, who would walk the last kilometres with us. So the seven of us go up into the vineyards of Schlipf, the only vineyards in the canton of Basle Town. Difficult because of the steep slope and many houses and private roads. But we soon come down to hike along a river called Wiese, to pass under the railway line and the motorway near the customs post at Otterbach and eventually emerge at the Hiltalingerstrasse customs post and commercial harbour, where I started my journey on June 5, 2015. We are welcomed by Sally, Elke (Christoph’s wife), Inès (Natalie’s eldest daughter) and my brother Walter, who came especially from Vienna for the occasion.
This was not the right place to celebrate the end of the circuit; so the others went by car to the Dreiländereck, more suitable for the celebrations. I only had to get into the kayak, wait until everything was ready on the other side of the water and then paddle the 200 m that separated me from the Dreiländereck, where about thirty friends and relations were waiting for me. Champagne, etc!
Later, most of the party would finish the celebrations at Restaurant Schiff in Kleinhüningen.
1. Urs and Christoph near Inzlingen
2. Boundary stone dated 1600, crest of the bishopric of Basle
3. Boundary stone dated 1700, crest of the nobles of Schönau
4. The vineyard of Schlipf, Lörrach behind
The last 6 kilometres – video by Natalie Roschnik