Day 6: Einsiedeln to Brunnen

(Wherein Mark channels his inner Choctaw)

5:30 in the morning, first the abbey bells and now this!

We had hoped for an early start but dozed off again after the cows passed. Then we spent a lot of time bandaging and wrapping sore feet for what is anticipated to be a long hard day of walking. Then to the fountain for the good stuff, and we are off.

The first two hours are easy and peaceful. Leaving Einsiedeln we pause to chat with fellow pilgrims having breakfast. One we met earlier, but the two women and Molly the dog started three days away from Nuremberg and are walking to Compostella.

We start with a pleasant walk along the Alp river, eventually glimpsing a sight of the Mythen. We will be walking toward them for the next few hours.

Along the way we pass a shrine to Bruder Klaus, an important figure in Swiss history – we will be seeing more of him in the coming days.

And of course there is the beautiful scenery.

The Alptal is lovely but before long it is time to face the daunting Haggenegg Pass. And it is steep and tough, especially on tender feet!

Finally we reach the top!

Just on the other side of the pass is a small inn first documented as a pilgrim’s hostel in 1483 (photo). Fun fact: Goethe stayed here twice, in 1775 and again in 1797.

The climb up was hard, but now comes the torture: the downhill to Schwyz is long long long and steep steep steep! Mark especially is having trouble with very painful blisters, shins and knees. Oh no, we are still a long way from down! What is to be done? Fortunately a mantra told to us by our brother-in-law Tyson, who learned it from his Choctaw grandmother, starts pounding through Mark’s head: “You can hobble, you can sweat, cry a little if it helps; but no whining, and never ever quit!”

The decent is murderous, so we stop at a small shelter to give the knees a rest. Here we are overtaken by our fellow pilgrims from earlier in the day and they stop to chat. Molly the dog still has lots of energy, but finally settles down for a picture and a quick nap.

And then the 4 of them are off, while we struggle to get back on our feet.

Decending now toward Lake Luzern, Mark hobbling and sweating like anything, our spirits are lifted a bit by something we have just learned: the Haggenegg is the steepest/hardest/longest most feared pass on the entire Way of St. James!

Finally a view of our destination in the distance.

Looking back, we can see where we have been.

At last we come to the town of Schwyz, capital of one of the three founding cantons.

A bit further along we pass through Ibach, internationally known as the home of the Swiss Army Knife. Unfortunately, it is Saturday and the factory shop has closed for the day.

And so, after walking the last few kilometers in a thunderstorm, we finally arrive wet and exhausted in the lakeshore town of Brunnen (which appeares to be enjoying some sort of tuba festival, in the rain), where we will take a day off from walking!

3 thoughts on “Day 6: Einsiedeln to Brunnen

  1. The Choctaw Dog Trot is a god-send to tired runners. I bet the Choctaw hobble in silence was of great use in a desperate time. Glad you made it to Brunnen where several good times have begun during the family trips.


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