Along the trails of the forgotten: Swiss Rigi railways.

Author:Frey-Hasegawa, Erika
Position:Off the beaten track: mount rigi
 
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Mark Twain, the American author renowned for his novel "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," once said about the Rigi mountains: "this is the charm ingest place we have ever lived in for repose and restfulness." In 1897, Twain vacationed in the area with his family for several months. During this time, he wrote another novel of his: "A Tramp Abroad." A theme walk dedicated in Twain's honour was set up on top of the Rigi. It leads through a more traditional path he chose to take when he ascended Mt. Rigi.

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The Swiss locals refer to Rigi as "the Queen of the Mountains." Compared to last month's hike to Mr. Titlis (3020 m.) the Rigi (1656 m.) at first glance, appears quite easily accessible. I wondered if there were any best-kept secrets overseen on this popular school trip and touristic stop. Mother Nature quickly reminded me to allow her to speak for herself. The breath-taking view of the surrounding Alps, the spiralling trails through the picturesque valleys filled with cows and sheep, and Mt. Rigi's majesty lies in her collection of natural wonders.

Meeting at the arch of Lucerne

Central meeting point at the Lucerne train station arch with Rene early on a Saturday morning. In his traditional red weather proof hiking coat and hat, he is hard to miss. First things first, Rene points out on a map the route we will be taking today. We quickly catch a train to Arth-Goldau, a central point to travel to several different directions in Switzerland. Trains depart to Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton, and other far-flung parts of Switzerland. Also located in Arth-Goldau is a large animal park that features bears and wolves as well as wild boar and hawks in their natural habitat. We catch the bright blue and white Rigi Bahn to head to the Queen of Mountains. The train whisks us off to the mountain and then chugs along up the steep railway to Krabel. Upon arrival Rene quickly guides us to the self-service gondola to Scheidegg. As the twelve-passenger cabin moves up the steep mountain, it feels quite eerie that our transportation is being remote controlled from the top of the mountain. It turns out that this gondola is sort of "off the grid" of the official Swiss national railway. The owner/operator does not participate in the national transportation system. And, only reluctantly, does he finally accept our VIP official media passes as tickets for the fare when we exit on top.

Top of the mountain

Triumphant to have reached the top...

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