Hiking from Richterswil to Pfäffikon SZ

Yesterday we decided to go hiking. We are thinking about eventually walking long trails like the Via Alpina, the Appalachian Trial and the Pacific Crest Trail but we need to start somewhere closer to what we can do today so we decided to start with Route 84 stage 4 which is a comfortable 16km hike near Lake Zürich.

We started the hike in Richterswil, a short train ride away from home.

Lake Zürich at 9am.

The first leg of our hike took us through a narrow ravine covered in a dense forest. Due to a heightened sense of confidence and adventure (I forgot to check the map) we didn’t enter the actual route 84 until about 45 minutes later but I tried to convince Loes that our detour was nicer than the official route.

Alien messages carved into wood.

Other than a couple of men walking their dogs we didn’t see other human lifeforms until we got out of the forest and into a lake.

The little lake was called Sternenweiher (“Pond of Stars”), but the proud restaurant next to it decided that Sternensee (“Lake of stars”) had a better ring to it. In that area we also saw people doing morning runs and, here and there, women riding what looked like huge war horses.

Taking a break through the hilly prairies after the lake.

Slowly, as the sun rose, we were rewarded with views like this:

A bit later we arrived to Samstagern, a little village west of where the actual route 84 actual passes through.

Emblem of Samstagern.

Villages around here are not like the villages I remember back from Spain. At one point we a garage that looked more like a little house with a Porsche Carrera in it and, two spots away, a tractor. Most of the people we saw were old people gardening. But besides these displays of being skilled with money we also saw the coolest mailbox I’ve ever seen:

Mailbox reproduction of the house next to it.

Also in the same village:

Fire hydrant with a personality.

After a few more villages population density quickly dropped and, for the bulk of the next two hours, we walked alone surrounded by trees doing what Loes and most of 126 million Japanese call “Shinrin-yoku“.

Up and up we went with nothing but grass, cows and trees.

Something that I’ve noticed since we moved to Switzerland is a specific blend of nature and old along with order and cleanliness. For example the wall of the next photo is almost falling apart but still has some dignity about itself. However everything around it clean an in order: the pails are aligned, the interior of the room to its left is also in order and the trolley with the rolled tube is cleanly parked. The floor, both outside and inside, is as clean as a random Japanese city. And this is only one instance. Inside the various forests we passed by we saw plenty of cut wood logs neatly piled, aligned with the road and impecable.

As we continued climbing we kept receiving larger and larger doses of beautiful scenery. Standing there listening to chirping birds and taking in the views was energizing.

Which doesn’t mean we stopped paying attention to the small things.

Soon after midday we reached Etzel Kulm (“Hill of Etzel”), the highest point in our day trip.

View from Etzel Kulm, 1098m.

The area had some props like the following last century cart as well as a restaurant and a parking for cheaters.

After a break where we finished our delicious home-made hummus we started our way down.

Fresh pine leaves. First time I see them like this.

The descent felt more steep than our ascent and it was also much more crowded. We still managed to get good views of the valley surrounding the area. The snowy mountains at the back? That’s the Alps.

View of the valley descending Etzel Kulm.
Click on the image to see the nice details on the shiny leaves.

And from there on to Pfäffikon we were drained so nothing to report.

It was a beautiful hike, totally recommended.