A Swiss Snowshoeing Tour: Toggenburg/Gasterland

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Last week, it finally started to snow. So, after a draining week, my husband and I decided to let off some steam the best way we know how: snowshoeing. It was a glorious, blue-sky day and so we headed to my favorite neck of the woods: the Toggenburg region of St. Gallen canton. This time we decided to try the nice flat moor area near Ricken, half way between Herisau in Canton Appenzell and Uznach in Canton St. Gallen, well that was my plan.

See all this nice, flat area for cross country skiing....

See all this nice, flat area for cross country skiing….

Cross Country Skiier enjoying a nice comfortable ride.

Cross Country Skiier enjoying a nice comfortable ride.

Of course, with me busy trying to get all my gear together, I let Countryboy  find a route, giving him some guidelines for where to look. My idea was for us to split up and let each of us do our own thing. Of course when we arrived I was so mesmerized by all the gorgeous snow that I just forgot about my plan to go solo.

View from the parking lot, where we started our tour.

View from the parking lot, where we started our tour.

After suiting up with all our gear and trekking a bit up the first stretch of track, we were able to finally get our snowshoes strapped on, and help some older lady put on hers.

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By that time it was almost lunch time and my breakfast was wearing off. An hour later was about all I could take before the alarm bells started to ring. Countrygirl was hungry and she wanted food now. And not just the emergency rations of granola, chocolate and TUC crackers that were devoured without a second thought, but something warm and hearty!

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Unfortunately, the nearest mountain hut restaurant was another 45 minute hike.  So after enjoying the view of rolling snow covered hills and the view down onto Lake Zurich, we decided to turn back.

Today, we would not see any stunning mountain views… we would not have a delicious bowl of ‘Gerstensuppe’ (Barley and vegetable soup) or a hearty portion of something cheesy. No, there would be none of that, nor the sledding adventure Yves had planned. It would have been a first for me, but you cannot talk any reason into a starving Countrygirl.

This is how far we got. It was still a beautiful view. (Please note the steepness of the slope through which I had to tread.)

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In my defense I would like to blame it on the lack of a hearty breakfast. You see when you go snowshoeing you burn energy fast!! You burn twice the amount of calories as with merely walking in snow. You have heavy boots on, you use your upper arms and not just your feet, as you have to hold poles and then of course you have the nasty Tour Difficulty scale that has nothing to do with reality.

Snow, beautiful snow!

Snow, beautiful snow!

Apparently, the Swiss Alpine Club, only considers a snowshoe tour  difficult if you put yourself in bodily danger, i.e. if you are falling off a cliff or are going in an Avalanche area, see link here . We’ve done both of those, but nevertheless, I would not have called this a W1 level hike. I mean surely, that last part is steeper than 25 degrees?! Anyway, how can you judge the difficulty without judging the weather and or snow conditions?  Sure I’ve done worse, a lot worse, but that hill was a killer.

In any case my body will tell you this was not an easy route, it was a safe route maybe, but not an easy one.

So the lesson to be gleamed from this Countrygirl’s adventures in Snowshoeing: When planning a snowshoe tour, make sure you have all the right gear, trail maps and weather information, but don’t forget the most important thing: FOOD. That means lots of protein. When looking back at last year’s tours, I would say I lasted a whole lot longer on bacon and eggs and toast. Think big: fruit, bircher muesli, hash browns, the whole nine yards.  Think Rancher’s breakfast or the Full English, not Continental. Bread and jam are for Frances NOT snowshoeing. (I’m sure I’ve lost you now!)

Snowshoeing is simply not a walk in the park, you need to be prepared. So enough ranting for the day, I hope I’ve wet your appetite for a snowy snowshoeing season here in Switzerland.

If you would like to see the details of the route or Countryboy’s version of our tour and his photos, please see Countryboy’s log/blog at hikr.org   and his version of this snowshoeing tour  here. Please note that although his report is in German, you can navigate the site in English.

My overly ambitious snowshoer: known as Countryboy on hikr.org, where he logs his hiking and snowshoe tours.

My overly ambitious snowshoer: known as Countryboy on hikr.org, where he logs his hiking and snowshoe tours.

Countryboy

Countryboy

Should you have any comments or thoughts you would like to share with me, about snowshoeing or any other topic I would love to hear from you.

Wishing you a very snowy Monday, or at the very least dreams of one!

Jodie