Every morning as I have my first coffee of the day I look out at Rigi. Rigi is “Queen of the Mountains” – or so the swiss call her. This is strange considering she really is not all that impressive as far as swiss mountains go. “She” is, however, both attractive and accessible and it has been driving me crazy that I had not yet been out to visit her for a good hike. So last Saturday morning with its abundant sunshine felt like a good time to do so.
The whole family took the Goldnau Rigi Bahn up to Rigi Kulm (the summit) for the amazing views of lake Luzerne and Zug. Then after a bit of lunch I bid them fairwell and made my way back down to Goldnau by foot. I later found out the path I took is called the “Goldauer Rigiweg” and has quite a history. It has been accessible by early tourists and religious pilgrims since the 1700’s and has seen some illustrious visitors (Queen Victoria was lugged up on a litter, apparently).
I found it to be an extremely genial trail, filled with rolling alpine meadows, the sounds of songbirds, cowbells and rushing water and beautiful views in every direction. It is sufficiently well travelled on a sunny weekend day so I never felt too alone. Well, except perhaps in the isolated village of Kloesterli, home of the 1689 chapel for herdsman (which also became a draw for pilgrimages). Here were several old hotel-ish buildings which looked abandoned – not a soul in sight. Perhaps it is more a “winter place”? Who knows. I was happy to move on lest I see some spectral figure peering out of one of those abandoned buildings’ windows at me. The only other “danger” of the wander came from a herd of overly friendly, nudgy cows taking up the road in a few places.
This walk in particular made me think about how easy it is to be a wanderer in this country. To be able to safely access such great, remote trails through mountain and forest, allowing me to see a slice of traditional swiss farming and herding life – that is a real gift. The country seems built on the assumption that a good, long and challenging walk in nature is practically a human right. Once again I found myself thanking my lucky stars they are allowing me to live here, and benefit from this oh-so civilized provision to wanderers, nature lovers, and peace seekers such as myself. Thank you Switzerland.