Posted on: 12 Nov 2015

This is going to be out of sequence now, but I need to backtrack a bit to include a couple of walks from the beginning of October which I didn't get round to mentioning at the time. Nothing spectacular........... but interesting in their way.

Friday 2 Oct (a holiday for Luzern - our patron saint, Leodegar): not sure if this will work (the last time I tried it, it didn't) but if it will open, look at this first, zoom in on the strange lump in the middle, and work out what is happening.

Yes, it's a maze! - constructed mostly of apple trees, but also some sections of sunflowers, vines, conifers, and other plants. Hidden amongst it were little placards with quiz questions, some multiple choice, eg. 'Which of the following is not a breed of cat?', some riddles, eg. 'Speaks all languages, and always has the last word' (Answer: echo.) This was great fun, and we did actually walk a good 2.6 kms just around the maze, locating all the questions. We came up with answers for all of them, though I'm certain some of them were wrong. The owner offered to provide the solutions to any we didn't know (there is a prize at the end of the season), but I was content to leave it at our wild guesses. The maze is one speciality of this farm; the other is an enormous exhibition of pumpkins - literally thousands of them, of an enormous variety of kinds, and including a huge mural made of apples and pumpkins. They were for sale, so we bought a couple, one of which has since been turned into very fine soup, while the other is still out on the balcony awaiting its fate.


The walk to the farm from Rothenburg was fairly dull (past the sprawling precincts of IKEA; a section alongside a busy road; a bit of scrubby woodland; a path round the side of a field also bordered by the noisy road.........), the walk to Sempach-Neuenkirch station afterwards a little pleasanter. But this time, the walk itself was not the main purpose of the exercise. Still, it was another 12 kms or so notched up, and an entertaining day out.

2 days later (Sunday 4 Oct), another walk - a relatively local one this time, round Sonnenberg. Bus there, then up onto the top, calling in at the cowshed to admire two very young calves (one so new, it was still damp.) This building is one of J's designs, and I really like it; 'cowshed' hardly does it justice - with its soaring wooden roof, it feels almost cathedral-like, though it's slightly less striking now the wood has darkened a bit. Then we paid a return visit to the Wolfschlucht (Wolf Gorge). We only discovered this last autumn, while training for the Viamala. It's a dark, damp, secretive place, enclosed by walls of dripping rock and hung with ferns - like something out of 'Lord of the Rings'. The 215 steps back up to the sunlight again were a welcome addition to our training last year (the Viamala has zillions of steps, and we'd so far looked in vain for a suitable eqivalent to practise on), but were tackled a little less vigorously today. Along the ridge and back, past the railed-off shaft leading down to a disused coal mine, another of Sonnenberg's strange secrets, with some time out sitting in the sun by the the side of the path (it was a really beautiful day, felt almost like summer still); a little detour to the restaurant at Schwyzerhüsli for coffee and cake, then back to the bus terminus. We had about 20 minutes to wait, so continued along another path and back to make it up to 10 kms. Relaxed, easy walking, just enjoying a lovely autumn day.

After that, very little for a while, so fast-forward a couple of weeks, picking up the story at Wednesday 21 Oct, when a cancelled rehearsal afforded a respite from the rigours of 'Sweeney Todd', and I used the last hour of daylight to get out for that 'head-clearing jaunt', along the lake, over to Sternegg, and home along the edge of the woods. Short and sweet (and slow - just over 7 kms, and 57 minutes), but it did the job - I came back feeling better than when I set off.

Fitted in another short one the next afternoon, taking J. with me. I didn't want to do too much as I had a very long evening's work ahead of me, so I had the idea of going to see the Ginkgo tree. This played a special role in my first marathon. It being a 2-lap marathon, I knew the first round would be okay, but I might need a bit of help on the second. So I came up with 5 incentives, 5 particular things to look forward to. A couple of these were pre-planned (a visit to my favourite public toilet at km 31; the free beer at the end), others evolved en route: to see my friend G. at km 25, and beg a tissue off her, as I had lost mine (though in the event, she hadn't got one - Rocky, then just a puppy, had stolen them out of her bag and torn them all up!); to try to catch up with A, doing the walking event over the last 8 kms of the course - this one achieved about 100 metres from the finish; and the most unplanned, the Ginkgo tree. It's a rather magnificent specimen, and its leaves were an astonishing lemon yellow. It caught my attention the first time I ran past it, and I spent the next 2 1/4 hours looking forward to seeing it again. So it's occupied a particular place in my affections ever since. Disappointingly, it wasn't yet that amazing yellow this time - is this because of the unusually long, hot summer? - so I just greeted it en passant, and ran on, up to Sternegg and the no.7 bus terminus, an out-and-back along the Lichterfest path, then home past the goats and along the edge of the wood. 6.2 kms, 53 minutes.

And then we come to the marathon weekend of the 24th and 25th.......... which I think I will leave for next time.

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