WALSA-Weg: Oberterzen to Murg

Oberterzen – Murg, 5km

Philippe joined me for the last stretch of the WALSA-Weg today : )!

This stretch started with a gondola up to Obertersen and all the way we were rewarded with a great views of the deep-blue Walensee and ever color-changing Churfirsten.

WALSA-Weg (Walensee-Sargans Trail), Mels to Bad Ragaz

WALSA-Weg (WALensee-SArgans Trail)
Mels (near Sargans) to Bad Ragaz, 23 km

This hike was a series of challenges from the very beginning: a 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, surely 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 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 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”!

Detailed route on the WALSA-Trail

WALSA-Weg: Vermol to Oberterzen

Plattmol, Mels  -> Chapfensee (1056m) -> Schwarzenberg -> Flumserberg -> Oberterzen; 21km

First going up to Chapfensee, a small lake above Vermol.

After going through a rather dense forest, the path opened up to a panoramic view of the Churfirsten mountain range.

At the colorful charming house there was a beauty!

After already 3+ hours on the “road”, 3h 20 min more to go.

Coming out of the ravine, the awesome looking Spitzmeilen peak was seen at the end of the valley.

At the last stretch I was rewarded with a view of the deep-blue Walensee and Churfirsten.

More on the WALSA-Weg

Tamina Gorge & Bad Ragaz

Bad Ragaz – Bad Pfäfers – Taminaschlucht (Tamina Gorge) – Naturbrücke – Pfäfers – Wartenstein – Bad Ragaz (11km)

I heard about this gorge last year and anyone who read the story of “Heidi” knows about Bad Ragaz, the thermal bath town visited by Clara’s grandmother.

The rather well known spa promotes its healing waters surfacing at 36.5°C. That’s lukewarm at best. In Japan, I rarely visit an onsen with water temperatures below 40° C. So we skipped the soaking.

Still, we hiked up the gorge to the source of the thermal water. Philippe vaguely remembers that he visited this place in a school outing (he has little memory of what he has done in school, it seems).

After we were informed by a friendly tourist office staff that our planned hike is partially rather steep, we left Bad Ragaz, heading for Bad Pfäfers (Pfäfers Bath).  It’s not more than an easy one-hour walk along the gushing river in the imposing narrow gorge. It’s morning and not many people around. We enjoyed the cool air in the impressively curved gorge.

The beautifully maintained baroque-style spa building appeared in front of us and after our picnic lunch in the sun we entered in the thermal spring grotto.

This 450-meter long gorge is impressive! The nature curved rocks only let a narrow sunbeam coming through. It is mysterious and awe-inspiring. We could see hot thermal steam bubbling up. A couple of panels explained where it all began and what we’re looking at.

 

After the visit of the gorge, the steep hike started into the forest and then down again to the historical “natural bridge” followed by upward wooden steps, which the tourist office personal warned us about.

We arrived at the cute town of Pfäfers, with an impressive baroque monastery church and the former Benedictine abbey (currently in scaffolding).

Bad Pfäfers
Bad Pfäfers
Taminabridge
Taminabrücke, a bit out-of-place supermodern bridge

On the way back to the town, we had another highlight: the Wartenstein Ruin where we could have a fantastic view of the Rhein Valley and the familiar Prättigau peaks such as Vilan, Chrüz and Philippe’s beloved playground Gafäll.

Back in Bad Ragaz an outdoor sculpture exhibition was greeting us and many others with more than 400 pieces, scattered everywhere in the town as well as in the beautiful garden of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.

More details on the gorge
Hike route