Posted on: 12 May 2019

Motivation comes and goes, but having finished March with a total of 151 kms, and April with just under 158, I suppose that's not too bad - especially given some of the unfriendly weather (wind, rain, more snow) we've had.

The outing that really gave me the push I needed was a walk along the side of Rigi, in the middle of March, a day of early spring sunshine. We started off in Vitznau. Garmin declined to register the first 1.5 kms, but I added it in manually at the end. This hiatus behind us, we tackled the climb up from the lakeside, and were soon walking through woodland carpeted with flowers: primroses; violets (white as well as purple); and Hepatica, loveliest of all. (Leberblume - 'liver flower' - seems such an ugly name for something so pretty.) There was also holly, improbably laden with berries; and butterflies, mostly Brimstone. Lunch on a sunny bench (sandwich, carrot, Zigerkrapfen - a kind of pastry stuffed with cinnamon-flavoured cream cheese), then the descent into the Republic of Gersau for some liquid refreshment.  (It really was an independent republic for a while. It is also the village portrayed at the beginning of Hermann Hesse's 'Peter Camenzind'. Even now, about 3/4 of the population seem to be called Camenzind, as a quick tour of the churchyard confirmed.) A bit concerned at how determinedly upwards the route was after Gersau, wondering if we'd somehow taken a wrong turn and were heading for the top of Rigi......... but it did level out eventually. Pausing at a viewpoint to admire the panorama of mountains across the lake, we heard a long screech of brakes and then an almighty bang from the road below, followed soon after by a succession of sirens, an ambulance glimpsed through the trees, and a rescue helicopter speeding in overhead. It seemed serious, and darkened the mood of the day a bit. I read later that some fool had cut a blind bend and collided head on with a correctly driven car. He unjustly (and miraculously, considering the wrecked state of both cars) escaped virtually unscathed; the two elderly people in the other car were rushed to hospital. But no fatalities, at least. One more pause, to pick some wild garlic, then the gradual descent back down to the road. A signpost wanted to send us back up again, but after calculating the amount of daylight we had left, we opted for the lakeside road to Brunnen. It was a bit further than I expected, but we walked fast and made good time. More police cars passed, and an ambulance, blue lights flashing. Brunnen, finally; a last stretch along the river Muota, to the station, and our train home. 16.5 kms, and a good few metres of elevation too: 1,156 up, 1,192 down. Legs definitely a bit achy after that!

A couple of short local outings, nothing of particular note (except, my Garmin notes remind me, I needed gloves again, spring having morphed back into winter)........

And then another walk, the absolute antithesis of our lovely Rigi walk, in that it was stultifyingly dull. Needing something that required not too much thought, zero navigation, and was simple to get to, I came up with Sursee (train there) to Sempach along the Sempachersee. After about 1 km (taking in the delights of sundry warehouses and the Calida knicker factory), I was already bored. Nor did it much improve upon reaching the lake: km after km of straight, flat path, hemmed in between the railway line and a series of fields (plain green, no flowers). This, in the other direction, is the second half of the Sempachersee half marathon - a race I have traumatic memories of, since being caught in a terrifying thunderstorm (complete with very painful hail) along this very stretch - although it did produce a very fast (adrenalin-fuelled!) time, within 1 second of my PB, set 12 years earlier. Be that as it may, it is another race I have no wish to do again. I have also walked it since, and - I remembered too late - found it very boring then. Oh well...... only another 8-or-so kms to go........ Near the paraplegic centre at Nottwil, I crossed paths with a couple of cheery handbikers out training, which did help to put things in perspective a bit. But it was stony going, psychologically speaking. It's the kind of walk where you really need someone to chat to to make it tolerable, but on this occasion I was solo: just me and my grumpy thoughts. The end of the lake at last, and the left turn towards Sempach; a bit of nature reserve-y reed bed  and a pair of flirting grebes provided a welcome diversion for half a minute, but I was keen to push on and get this thing finished now. A final annoying diversion round a camp site, then ah, Sempach here we come. 12 dull kms ticked off....... and amazingly I'm in luck, a bus comes almost immediately to take me home. Yessss!

Another 12 the next day, from the strangely named station D4 to Sins. (We usually start at Gisikon, but J decided we should start one stop earlier to collect another Conquercise zone.) Following the river Reuss, past swathes of wood anemones, some noisy geese, and more evidence of beavers' handiwork, we arrived at the Zollhaus restaurant......... to find it closed AGAIN! One day we might be lucky........

The next day I decided my travel pass needed some exercise, and took myself to St Ursanne in the west of Switzerland, that bit that sticks out like a spare piece of jigsaw puzzle. There I dredged up some very rusty French, ate a mediocre meal, and did a fair bit of exploratory walking, including  the million steps (slight exaggeration, possibly...... but not much!) up to the hermit's cave: St Ursicinus, after whom the place is named. Twice, in fact, as I walked back to the station that way.

Two more runs, a 7k by the lake and Sternegg, a 10k in the woods; then 2 more walks to end March. The first of these was one that has been on my 'to do' list for a while, starting in Obernau and finishing in Schwarzenberg, via Chrüzhubel and Lifelen to collect 2 more Conquercise zones. The first 3.5 kms took an hour, consisting as they did of a seemingly endless staircase, zigzagging relentlessly up through the woods - a 420m climb. But the rest was easy and scenic, along the valley side parallel with the Pilatus mountain chain opposite, and rewarded with a meal in the restaurant (though not the anticipated Spätzlipfanne, alas, as that was off the menu that day.) With the extra 3 kms spent walking around Schwarzenberg while waiting for the bus down to Malters, some 13.5 kms in all.

The final outing of March, another 12 kms, from Werthenstein to Malters via Chuderboden, was an exceedingly wiggly route! See for yourself:

This was due to the many Tobels - narrow, steep-sided clefts - we had to navigate round, in a constant switchback of short, sharp ups and downs. A navigational error near the end added on an extra loop, but it was easy walking, along the river, so no problem. Best bit of the walk, though was J's nature observation: "Look, a yellow tit!" "No, dear - an ORANGE TIP!" (as the butterfly in question fluttered past.) He learns a lot of words and names from me, but doesn't always get them quite right!

So that was March: fairly solid, if not particularly heroic. (Except possibly surviving the death-by-boredom walk.......) April to follow.

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