Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hiking the Mouse that Roared (8/1/09)

Gaflei, Liechtenstein
Trip: Vaduz – Gaflei – Vaduz
Starting Altitude: 450 meters
Highest Point: 1509 meters

When I was about 8, I remember reading this book called “Europe of Yesterday and Today.” It was from the 1960s (being an American school library book). Each country in Western Europe was individually profiled. It led me to read further books in the series: “Germany of Yesterday and Today” and “France of Yesterday and Today.”

But what really interested me was the nation of Liechtenstein. It was a tiny principality that had fewer people than my neighborhood in Atlanta. Its entire army was made up of 14 policemen. Its major connection with the world outside was its postage stamps. My father had me watch the movie The Mouse that Roared because of my interest.

I decided that day I was going to see Liechtenstein one day. It was one of those things that would always be on my lifelong list.

Raphael kept telling me I was crazy: “Liechtenstein sucks.” But, I was going to do it damn it. And when I was in Zurich the first time, we had planned to make a side trip. That hadn’t worked out, but now I was doing it.

I took the train from Zurich to Sargans (near the border). From there I took a “Liechtenstein Bus” into Vaduz.

Admittedly, there really isn’t anything to do in Liechtenstein. So, I figured I’d hike up into the Alps.


I made my way from Vaduz and past the Vaduz Castle. And then up and up and up until the village of Gaflei – 1509 meters. So the net gain was over 1000 meters. And, I did it carrying all my camping equipment. Of course I regretted carrying all the equipment once I couldn’t get a camp site on the Walensee.

The views of the Alps – Swiss, Austrian and Liechtenstein(ian?) were absolutely amazing. If I had more time I would have hiked even higher, but alas I had to get to those campgrounds to not get a site.

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