Monday, 15 August 2011

Barefoot walk

Yesterday we went ahead with the plan of doing the barefoot path from Gontenbad to Jakobsbad.  As I mentioned I would, I cycled from here to meet Anny and her dad in Jakobsbad.  It didn't look that easy to get there on the map, but I memorised a lot of place names, and hoped that there would be signs for the places that I had memorised.  Looking at the map I estimated it would be about 80km - as it turned out that wasn't far wrong, although it was a bit nearer 90km.

The first part is simple enough - cycling down the lake from here to Rapperswil.  Going along the lake in Zurich was a nightmare though.  The streets had been cleaned after the street parade, but there were still small bits of broken glass everywhere, and the water that had been used to wash the streets had helped to spread the stale beer a little further.  I tried to avoid the broken glass where I could, but there was no much of it that some of it crunched under my tyres.  Luckily no punctures however.

Once I got to Rapperswil the next place I needed to head towards was Wattwil.  That was also easy as there were big signposts all the way there.  Once in Wattwil I realised I had cycled there before, when I went to Lichtenstein with Pete a few years back.  The route after Wattwil wasn't too obvious and I stopped to ask for directions.  I was fortunate that the first person I asked knew the way perfectly, although he said it was going to be quite tough with a lot of undulating sections.  Once I got a little further up the road I saw what he was talking about, but any climb below 500m is really not an issue these days.  There were a couple of smaller climbs though, so it will be interesting to see what my GPS says was the total climb.

I arrived in Jakobsbad with perfect timing, just 10 minutes before Anny and her dad arrived on the train. After a couple of minutes chatting we removed our shoes and set off on the Barfussweg (barefoot path).  It is the first time I have walked without shoes in the countryside, as I am usually worried about what things may be lurking in the grass.  I am sure that they check the route regularly for broken glass, or hope that people are not stupid or nasty enough to leave broken glass on a Barfussweg.  However you can't stop the wild animals going to the toilet on the path.  It doesn't really matter though, and the feeling of grass and bare earth and squelching mud beneath your feet is great.

Negrita went totally nuts and even jumped headlong into a pool of black mud.  She was then stuck firm and had to be pulled out by Anny, who was also covered from head to toe in mud by the time she got out.  The path was jam packed with other hikers, most of them Swiss.  Despite the sheer number of people on the path, almost everyone said Gruezi as they passed.  That is the kind of courtesy you only see in the countryside these days.  Although it would also be impractical in the city, as you would be saying Gruezi all day long in the city.

The only downside to the barefoot path is that there are stony sections, and if you don't have your shoes easily to hand, and don't have feet made of leather then it can be a bit uncomfortable.  All in all though it was a great experience and I would be happy to try out more barefoot paths in Switzerland.


  1. Hi Paul,

    I hadn't heard of these paths before, sounds amazing and fantastic for toughening up your feet before the MDS.

    Take care,

  2. Hi SJ

    Most definitely. I was wondering how people manage to run barefoot as even the little stones were making me go ouch ouch ouch. But as you said, if you do them again and again your feet will toughen up. When I searched on the internet I only saw this one mentioned, but when I have been out on my bike I have seen another barefoot path too. I am sure there are more of them around, but maybe not advertised. It wasn't that much different from a normal footpath.

    By the way have you decided if you will enter the MDS 2012 yet? That would be cool.