Day 38 – A thunderous welcome to Switzerland

Rankweil to Appenzell, 29Km

Hotel B&B Stossplatz, 117 Swiss Francs

After starting the day at 7am with an Egg McMuffin and cappuccino, and handing over the last of my euros, I set off on the final 8 kilometres of Austria. The weather forecast was ominous and changing by the hour. Last night, thunderstorms were promised all day but this morning the first storm was not expected before 1pm.

You barely clear the Rhine when the mountains start and with an ascent of 720m to 1013m ahead of me, I wasn’t hanging around. I bought a Swiss cheese roll at the petrol station and set off following Jakobsweg. Alpine weather changes quickly and you don’t want to be in the mountains in a thunderstorm. There aren’t very many safe places to shelter. Avoid trees, open ground, high ground, water, open structures, metal structures etc..

The rumbling started at 11am, followed by the rain and then the lightning. I saw a crucifix on a hill top and contemplated starring in an impromptu Passion Play. But my salvation came around the bend. An empty cattle shed!

I climbed over the barriers and went inside, as the lightning flashed and the thunder boomed. Have you ever been inside a cattle shed? It’s covered in a layer of straw and cow dung and it’s quite a deep layer. You wouldn’t normally enter such a place, not in your shoes.

Sadly, a tragedy was unfolding as I stood there. I noticed a fledgling bird lying in the mess, occasionally fluttering its wings but in a helpless condition. Outside its frantic parents were flying around in a panic, calling for it and looking everywhere but it was a lost cause. The fledgling died as I stood there wondering what to do.

The storm passed and I gratefully set off to Eggerstanden and ordered a bottle of the local beer. The inn lady asked me about Jakobsweg and how long I’d been walking. I said “5 weeks, guess where I started?” She couldn’t believe it was possible to walk across Austria in 5 weeks and, frankly, neither can I.

The weather improved and I just about reached Appenzell before the next storm struck. The forecast is for a nice sunny day tomorrow but you just can’t tell in this part of the world.

The final kilometres of Austria with the ominous Swiss mountains ahead
The Rhine, just a little river at this stage but the border between Austria and Switzerland
Jakobsweg continues across Switzerland
Approaching the summit
Shelter from the storm
Inside the cowshed (note my pack hanging near the door)
You wouldn’t trust this weather
Close to Eggerstanden
A well earned break in Eggerstanden
On the final leg to Appenzell
Brewery in Appenzell

10 comments on “Day 38 – A thunderous welcome to Switzerland

  1. 5 weeks to cross Austria – is that what you planned? Sorry to read about the fledgling always sad to see. I once briefly joined the “Young Farmers” so I know a bit about cow sheds, pig judging and driving a tractor backwards! – I also slept in a sheep shed on my way to Jerusalem – can still smell the sheep! but there were hay bales for a bed.

    • I was 4 days quicker than my rough plan which resulted in me arriving in Innsbruck early for the Passion Play. I noticed some clean straw bales up the stairs and wondered if I’d be sleeping there but I didn’t fancy hanging around if the cows returned

  2. Roger Clarkson

    Hopefully not too many mountains. I remember Switzerland being flat in the middle with mountains circling when I cycled there.
    Phoebe Bridgers (former bandmate of Julien Baker) is on stage at Glastonbury.

    • Yes there’s a flat bit around Interlaken. Phoebe Bridgers sold out her UK tour. Is it on BBC or are you there?

      • Roger Clarkson

        on BBC (lots of channels this year so can watch any stage)

      • Excellent Hopefully it’s on iPlayer for me to watch. I have all her records

  3. Of course I have been to an Appenzeller cheese factory 😉. A bit stinky but melted it is fabulous! One of the best alpine cheeses for certain. 🧀.
    Enjoying your stories and photos as usual.

    • Thanks Lynn, I must bring some home. Perhaps a cheese fondue in the winter…

  4. Walkmag

    Well done on your progress. The scenery slways looks very inviting.

    • Thanks Maggie, there’s no faulting the scenery; it just gets better

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