Hiking, More Hiking, and BLM

The past month has seen the coronavirus restrictions in Switzerland go through a phased lifting. We stuck to group sizes smaller than 5 and went hiking twice, and then today we attended a BLM march in Zürich.


Our first hike was between the towns of Flüelen and Brunnen, on the eastern side of Lake Lucerne. Unfortunately, shortly after we began we had to turn around as the path to Sisikon was out due to a landslide. We caught a train back to Sisikon and hiked in the foothills of Fronalpstock, through Morschach and into Brunnen. This whole area was the heart of the original old Swiss Confederacy.

Picture time!

Flüelen has a big horn. It stayed silent for us, though. Flüelen's horn

The city of Flüelen view of the lake. Flüelen's view of the lake

Hiking along Lake Lucerne. Hiking along the lake

Starting the ascent above the town of Sisikon. Sisikon

The path was covered with natural wild garlic, Bärlauch (Ramsons). You could smell it. Bärlauch

You could hear the cowbells for 15 minutes before emerging in a farmer’s field. Field above sisikon

Here’s one happy cow licking itself. Moo! Happy cow

We suddenly walked past a bunch of black sheep and little lambs! Baby black sheep

Somewhere on that outcropping of land is Rütli, I think where the oaths of the old first Swiss Confederacy took place 800-ish years ago. Old Swiss Confederacy birthplace

We unexpectedly passed this. I think it is a prayer totem? Payer totem

Our destination in the distance: Brunnen. Brunnen

We walked past this engraved stone, marking the path as the “Cross Trail”. Stone

Meglisalp Wandern

Our second hike was much longer, more strenuous, with an exposed portion. We hiked up to Meglisalp, a small alpine village, in Kanton Appenzell Innerrhoden. This is the Kanton that I think of as being one of the most traditional Kantons of Switzerland, in part because women weren’t allowed to vote here until 1991 (ATF 116 la 359).

For this hike, we also took Helix along! We took a train to Wasserauen, which is at the head of a valley that rises into the Säntis mountain. From there, it was a hike up to the alpine lake Seealpsee, which was beautiful and family-friendly. Everyone seemed to still be respecting social distancing rules despite it being relatively packed that weekend.

Enough words, more pictures.

The hike starts on the valley floor, walking next to a babbling brook. We’re hiking up to the source of that brook to start. It’s actually fairly strenuous and steep for a short bit, after this flat ground. Babbling brook

As we are hiking up but still on the valley floor, we’re surrounded on all sides by giant mountains. Hiking up up up

We came upon the lake Seealpsee, on the valley floor. Beautiful. And a great landmark. Seealpsee

Here is the family at Seealpsee. Family at Seealpsee

We went to the far side of the lake too. Seealpsee's far side

After Seealpsee, we needed to hike up. The first part was in the forest, below the stony cliffs of the mountain where the slow erosion of rock and soil had built up. Forest hike

Once above the forest, but below the sheer stone wall of the lower mountain, we needed to hike on a partially exposed path. That means there’s steel cabling to hold onto, but there’s no railing to prevent one from falling the fifty, hundred, or few hundred meters down. Jess didn’t mind! Jess Hiking Up

Here’s Helix looking out across the valley during the exposed part of the hike. Helix Looking Out

After that climb up the rocks onto the lower mountain, the view is breathtaking. This is the end of the valley below where Seealpsee is. I think Säntis is somewhere in there, or just to the left. Overlooking the valley

Once up to the alpine heights, there was still snow! Helix loves snow. He rolled around in it like a cat on catnip. Alpine Snow

Continuing further, our destination in sight: the small village of Meglisalp. Meglisalp

Helix was having a great time. He had water, treats, smells, and sights galore! Helix, mini-Aussie

On the way back, we went a different way that let us stay higher on the mountain longer. There’s the lake all the way down there! Seealpsee from above

BLM March

Today, Jessica and I attended a BLM march in Zürich. It wasn’t the first one – we had missed it the first Saturday after George Floyd’s murder. I think it was technically an un-permitted protest. Not sure if that means it was illegal. Yes, you’re supposed to ask for a permit to protest here, as I think it makes sure the police are well prepared and part of the conversation of how to facilitate it. Plus, the Swiss media then can also prepare their coverage of it. But, since I don’t own a TV, I don’t watch much news. However, no mass arrests were made while we were there.

What I did watch: the Ahmaud Arbery video, the George Floyd video, countless videos of police being brutal to peaceful protesters. All of it is gut-wrenching. Living abroad only adds to the feeling of being helpless and distant.

So we went to the BLM protest today, masks in tow, though social distancing was definitely not being practiced. And while we were supposed to march in groups of 300 to recognize the coronavirus threat, that separation did not happen. Note that for the past month or longer, the daily new cases of coronavirus for the whole Kanton, not just the city, has been 10 or less (BAG source). This time period includes the previous BLM protest as well.

The Kantonal government and police forces of Zürich are, according to the Neue Züricher Zeitung, in a bit of a political pickle over these demonstrations. Here’s how best I can summarize it for folks back in America, based on my very limited exposure to and understanding of Swiss politics:

The Swiss Federal government developed the laws governing the re-opening of society. Think of the Swiss Federal government as a very loose, generally weaker version than the US government, so they took on a role more of a unifying coordinator rather than having inconsistent rules across Kantons. One such question that came up was how to re-open the political sphere. At this stage, the Federal guidance is that political demonstrations of more than 300 people are forbidden. Some politicians, such as the conservative SVP – which has done interesting things in the past – at this stage wanted no demonstrations to be allowed at all because, the argument goes, the point of demonstrations is to have as many participants as possible so allowing any demonstrations at all with an artificial cap is counterintuitive.

But the 300 limit went through, and now the police have to enforce it. Since they have stopped certain demonstrations and not this BLM one, the SVP is complaining about the police playing political favorites. The police chief has asked if it was a realistic expectation to attempt to detain over 10,000 people in a popular protest for hours to issue 100 CHF fines. And that’s the political pickle.

Anyway, pictures!

Before the march began, we got a candid chance photograph with one of the bigger signs floating around. BLM

I saw signs specifically recognizing the black trans and black queer community, too. Black Trans & Queer Lives Matter

I got an elevated picture after the march turned a corner. There were a lot of people there. Black Lives Matter

Published: Jun 13, 2020 17:31:23 EDT
By: Cory Slep