To celebrate the merry occasion of a double birthday within our lovely group of Gipfelistürmer and to kick-start the hiking season with class, together with a bunch of friends, in late April we went for a hike around Rüte in the lovely Swiss canton of Appenzell. What was suppose to be a three-day excursion had to be cut down upfront to only two days given unfavourable weather forecast. Still, with almost cloudless sky—at least on the first day—we were all in for a treat.
Having left Zurich fashionably late, we got to our starting point—Brülisau (922m)—only shortly before 11am. After a quick coffee break at Hotel Krone, where the next day we’d stop for a culminating lunch, we started our ascent towards Hoher Kasten (1791m). Not even one hour through the trek we were presented with some breathtaking views over Brunstwald and Brülisau itself. Upon reaching the mountain ridge at Kastensattel we stopped for an extended lunch and coffee break. Carried away by sunbathing and friendly chatter we took off towards Staubern hut as late as 3pm.
What normally would make for an easy stroll to our next stop, took us all quite a while as we were indeed walking on the northern side of the ridge and snow didn’t entirely melt there just yet. Worn-out and tired after marching through some deep-snow and steep bits, we got to our next stop late enough to start getting worried about descending to our destination, Hundsteinhütte.
It was almost 6pm when we learned that the route we had planned to take to the hut wasn’t still completely avalanche-free and we were advised to take a different trail down to the valley. We were also told that just a week back a hiker fatally slid off a cliff on that very same trail we were suppose to follow now. But there was either that or taking the cable car down and heading back to Zurich and so we opted for the first option with extreme caution. A bit uneasy about the whole situation we got ourselves guided through the first troublesome bits of the trail down by our host at the Staubern hut.
Once passed the tricky parts—some of the folk simply sliding down on their butts or, as they gracefully put it, having a “snowy bidet”—we reached snow-free altitudes and headed for the Hundsteinhütte where an hour later, exhausted but cheerful, we started our celebrations over polenta and some deli wine we brought along.
The SAC Hundsteinhütte is normally closed in late April and only the “winter room” remains open this time of year. You book the hut by contacting whoever takes care of it, they give you the code to get in, you pay for whatever you use by dropping the money into a money box and take your trash with you when leaving—that’s how it works. Unless there’s already somebody lodging in upon your arrival, which was our case. A lady called Heidi opened the doors and made fireplace running for us. Lovely.
The second day was all about a relaxed stroll down back to the village. After breakfast improvised from whatever we had left in our backpacks—I went crazy on panettone and jam—we started our descent back towards Brülisau. It got cloudy overnight but stayed nicely warm throughout the day and didn’t really rain until late afternoon. The moment we got out of the woods and reached the village we were welcomed by a delightful drizzle. We stopped again at the Hotel Krone to have our well-deserved röstis, schnitzels and cordon-bleus and headed back to Zurich right after.
This is a collection of photos from that lovely hike around Appenzell’s Rüte region sometime in late April 2015.