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Zurich-Etzelpass

Finally the day has come that I have finished my work project and there is time for some hiking. Covid gets in the way a bit though as now we have to wear masks in public transport. So I’ve decided to start my hike right at my doorstep and not use public transport (at least so I thought at the time).

To avoid having to walk through the whole town of Zurich I’m using one of the bikes from Publibike to cycle to Wollishofen, the eastern end of Zurich which brings me a bit closer to the final destination of my hike, the eastern end of Switzerland.

My backpack is stuffed with all the gear I need for a multi day hike in summer such as my tent, sleeping pad and sleeping bag. It feels so familiar putting it on my back again although it’s almost two years ago since I’ve last used it on my half thruhike of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Whithin the first few hundred meters I come across a tree with ripe mirabelles. They taste delicious and eating them fresh from the tree already makes me feel connected to nature despite still being within Zurich’s city limits.

The route I’ve planned soon brings me up the hill a bit with pleasant views of the lake on this beautiful sunny day. Looking at the sailing boats stuck on the lake without wind, I’m so happy I can hike here instead of being bored to death like the people on the boats probably are.

Further outside of Zurich, approaching Thalwil I a feeling of a hotspot building on my left foot’s pinky toe and realize I’ve forgot to bring any tape with me. So I check the map and find a supermarket that my route will come close to soon. Unfortunately it turns out that the don’t have any Leukotape which is great to tape spots with developing blisters (if done early enough…). In a pharmacy in Langnau am Albis I finally find some usable tape. The lady in the pharmacy is very friendly and even lets me tape my toes on one of their chairs. Taping of course involves taking my shoes and socks off which might make the lady regret her offer soon…

With my toes taped I can start the climb of Albishorn the hike’s first “mountain”. Soon after Langnau am Albis, I enter the Sihlwald which is a forest that is not cleared of dead wood or taken care of too much, unlike most of the other Swiss forests. It even provides me with the first proper trail of the hike as opposed to the roads that I have been hiking on so far.

On the terrace of the restaurant on top of the Albishorn I treat myself with the hike’s first non alcoholic beer and enjoy the view.

After having crossed the Sihl in Sihlbrugg the route takes me up again and the lovely landscape with its rolling hills, often with a single tree on top, reminds me of where the Hobbits live. I’m mostly walking narrow roads, unpaved and paved which is maybe too monotonous for my feet. It might also be the heat or that my shoes are waterproof or a combination of it all but the pain leaves no doubt that there are some serious blisters now. This really takes a lot of the fun away and it doesn’t help that my mind is focusing on the pain a bit too much.

Right when my mood is really bad I come across three people that are on their way home from a splash in the nearby Hüttnersee. They stop me and ask where I’m going. I say “the mountains” and tell them about my plan which they are quite impressed and excited about. After saying goodbye, walking feels completely different. The short conversation with these kind people has given me a huge energy and confidence boost and I’m almost flying now.