WALSA-Weg (WALensee-SArgans Trail) / Mels (near Sargans) to Bad Ragaz, 23 km
This hike was a series of challenges from the very beginning: wrong bus information forced me to walk from the bottom of the valley instead of from Vermol, a further 4 km uphill hike including lovely 500 m of altitude. Well, off I go.
After already walking 2 hours, the path was suddenly marked “Gesperrt (Closed off)”! While I was looking at this sign in disbelief, “why now? why this sign not before?”, a car passed by. I quickly waived at the car to stop and asked two locals in the vehicle:
Is it really closed off? Can’t I go anyway? Do I really have to walk back 2 hours the same way!?
The man told me that it was due to a landslide and the path was closed off. Then the woman who seems to be his mother looked at me from the top to the bottom and said, “If you are careful, you can manage. But you have to be careful.” With her blessing, I decided to go ahead. I could turn back if it was too risky, I concluded myself.
After walking downhill a while, sure enough, I came to a more than 45-degree slope and saw a bridge gone with a landslide.
Very slowly one step after another, without much elegance, I managed to cross to the other side and to continue on the safe ground. Phew!
Next came another dangerously half-way fallen bridge over the stream! I tried to test the bridge but it looked wobbly. The stream was narrow so not dangerous, but I did not want to get my shoes wet or slip on and twist my ankle. On this path, I have not seen any other hiker yet and I cannot expect anyone to rescue me in case of an accident….. A few good stones to hop on helped me to make it safely to the other side. Second, done!
As the last challenge of today (enough for one day!), several gigantic fallen trees blocked the path completely and forced me to go back to the paved street : (
But I met a delightful Swiss couple, Claudia & Gion from Chur, who used to live in Japan for over 10 years and speak very good Japanese. We hiked together for more than an hour with Gion talking about his experience in teaching psychology and with Claudia about doing Nishinjin-ori in Kyoto! The couple seems to be in their 70s but they have no problem walking up 500m in altitude non-stop. Some Swiss are impressively fit!
This amazing encounter and the fantastic view of the Rhein Valley and surrounding mountains had blown away all the little challenges “on the road”!