“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf!”

We went here today. Säntis is utterly gorgeous. I’ve never been around mountains like that in my life before, and it was incredible – jaw-droppingly amazing and beautiful.

We got up and moving fairly early, and with the baby, that’s quite an effort. We had to change trains just a few times. By the time we got to the last train-leg of the trip, we were able to see Säntis. Our last mode of transportation was a bus that zig-zagged up the tightest turns I’ve ever seen. I took a brief video from the front seat of the bus. Click here to see it unless you are easily car-sick.

The bus dumped us at the back of the main hotel in the area. It seems that Säntis is a very popular place to bike to (motorcycles more than bicycles). There were hundreds of bikes in the parking lot. We tried to find some sort of tourist information area, but there was none, so after briefly consulting a map posted at the head of one of the trails, we headed off, baby and all.

The trail had gravel, but our poor Graco stroller is apparently not made to handle much other than the occasional walk. Between the beating it got on our hike, and the fact that I walk over cobblestone streets with it nearly every day, and that it is a pain to get in and out of the bus, train, etc… it is no wonder it seems like it is about to fall apart. Plus, I can’t imagine how rattled Eddie feels in the Graco. We desperately need an off-road stroller. Most of the good ones are 500-1000 francs, and I’m having difficulty locating a used one locally. We’ll probably just have to bite the bullet sometime soon. I’ve already found several that I think will work for us – lightweight, sturdy, with shocks and air-filled wheels. Most have three wheels instead of four, further increasing stability.

But back to our walk! The trails in the area are all clearly marked, and have approximate hike times. At splits in the path, there are clear signs pointing out which trail goes where, and approximately how much more time it will take you to get to your chosen destination. As the baby was being extremely fussy (probably because of the bumpy ride), we opted to take a very short path that went through the foothills at the base of the mountain. But what a beautiful path it was! I’d love to come back with one of us wearing Eddie in the carrier and take a bit longer hike.

Even if we did have an all-terrain stroller, we wouldn’t be able to take the hike up to the top of the mountain (it was surprisingly noted as being only about a four hour hike up). Nor did we take the cable car up to the top. It is a big no-no to take an infant into higher altitudes because of the lower oxygen levels.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it, but the Swiss really love their cows. And not those of the Angus variety like in Texas. The Swiss love their dairy cows. The price of beef is really high here because most of the cattle bred in Switzerland is for dairy production rather than beef consumption. There are all kinds of festivals in various villages, usually in the spring or fall, regarding taking the cows up to graze in the high pastures, or down. There are life-sized, painted cow statues in odd places. They really really LOVE their cows.

During our hike, we heard the cacaphony of hundreds of cowbells dinging. It was a bit odd at first, but strangely soothing after a while. We also ran into several cows towards the end of our hike. The trail had a few benches here and there. We stopped to rest at one of the benches and eat our lunch (quiche from a bakery in Wintherthur) and to feed Eddie. Unlike all the other cows we’d seen, these didn’t have any bells.  Mostly the cows just munched on the grass and ignored us. One of them nudged her nose into Heath’s shoulder, though, and apparently just wanted to be scratched on her head. Another walked up to Eddie’s stroller, stuck her head in, sniffed around for a bit, and then moved on. The baby was in my lap at the time, but I’m sure the worst that would have happened was a bit of cow slobber (it would have gone with the baby’s slobber. heehee).

After we got back to the hotel, we decided to have a snack. They had a ton of tables outside, and it was a GORGEOUS cool clear day, so we just spent the time relaxing and hanging out.

We attempted a side-trip to the town of Appenzell on our way back home, but the baby had had enough, and we had to get back on the train. Of course he promptly settled down and went to sleep for the ride home.

We got a few pictures and some video of the cows, and our hike around the base of Säntis. Click here for the pictures, and click here for the videos.


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