The ‘Appenzeller Alpenweg’ trail leads through and across these foothills of the Alps, between Urnäsch village and the Alpstein range in Appenzell, Switzerland.
Views of the typically hilly rural landscape of this picturesque Swiss canton on one side, and the Alpstein mountain range, including Säntis peak on the other side dominate this hike.
The route is intended as two stages, but we did it in one day.
- Some less interesting sections of the hike can drag on a bit if you do everything in one stage like we did.
‘Appenzeller Alpenweg’ remains to this day (as of 2021-11-06) one of the longest day hikes we’ve ever done. If you take not only altitude difference but also difficulty of terrain into consideration, the crown might belong to ‘Senda Lais da Macun’, but in sheer length (Naismith’s Rule) this one wins.
It’s laid out as a two day hike, but we decided we could do it in one and welcomed the challenge.
So to give ourselves a chance of finishing before sunset, we broke with tradition and got up early in the morning (so before 8AM).
Having arrived at Urnäsch and quickly left the village behind (no time for local culture museums (or interest in-, for that matter)), Appenzell greeted us with its lovely meadow and alpine farm covered hills and mountains on a lovely summer’s day.
Across hills and forest trails, and still full of energy, the halfway point was quickly reached and we enjoyed our lunch with Säntis peak in view.
So far we had been mostly on our own, and after the commotion around the cable car station at the foot of the mountain, we should soon have the landscape to ourselves (and the cows) again.
The views of these foothills of the alps, Alpstein with Säntis, and the wavy Appenzell rural landscapes kept getting better and better. Just an awesome feeling, even with slightly tired legs and feet.
Towards the end of the route, we came across a herd of young cows, two of which were particularly curious and friendly.
After we stopped trying to film them, we actually managed to pet them and in case you’ve never petted a cow, let me tell you it’s like petting a huge happy dog. They have the same goodness and love in their eyes, and react to affection like any pet (all things being equal).
When we attracted the attention of the rest of the herd, and particularly of some bigger young bulls, we decided it was time to leave. They were probably friendly too, but a bit too large and heavy to risk being played with or being the recipient of enthusiastic shows of affection.
When we left them that day, we had made a happy memory. Or so we thought.
Because now that I’m writing this post, more than a year later, seeing the pictures and videos of these two cuties just makes me so very sad.
Sad, because the realities of dairy farming mean that these lovely, friendly, curious and affectionate beings were slaughtered and sold as veal just a few weeks after we petted them. And not being billionaires who can just buy some land to transfer these cows to, there’s nothing we could have realistically done to save them, or that we can do now to save others.
Our only hope is to raise awareness of the unethical treatment of these animals, so fewer of them have to suffer in the future.
To that effect, let me shortly tell you that we both went from meat lovers (organic and free range only) to vegetarians because the more we interacted with farm animals, the less we could stomach funding their torture and murder through our purchases.
Then we unfortunately found out that milk cows have to give birth once a year to keep giving milk, and their offspring is (usually) taken away from them on day one to not interfere with mechanical milking, then (certainly) killed at around 3 months old. The mother cow can be heard screaming the “name” or unique call of her child (that she can be heard practicing before it’s born) for days after it’s taken away.
We had been blissfully unaware that veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry. Now we’re vegan. Man, I miss cheese.
This being a hiking blog, not an ethical consumption blog, I will leave it at that. You can read the full, rather verbose rant on why buying dairy and egss is ethically wrong here.
So, where were we? Ah yes, what a beautiful sunset 😀
On tired feet, we walked the last portion of trail through soft hills and meadows just as the sun was setting and reached the car shortly after the sun vanished behind the horizon. Impeccable planning and timing, no?
Overall a great hike through beautiful landscapes that I would recommend to anyone for a mild summer or autumn day, whether as the one- or two stage variant.
Would you like to share your own experiences with this hike? Do you have any questions? Something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂
Route Report / Gallery
Don’t miss a hike 🙂
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