Time: 8.5h. Up: 650m. Down: 2030m.
Distance: 25km. Difficulty: medium.

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Stage 26: Klausenpass Hotel (1800m) to Altdorf (458m)

Click and drag on map above to see area around trail. Click here for large zoomable map.

A long but very satisfying balcony hike today with superb views into and across the Schächental to a ridge of 3000+m peaks to the south.

You are now in the heart of Switzerland, in Canton Uri – one of the three original districts that came together to form the Swiss confederation in 1291. And Altdorf, where you will spend the night, is the heart of Uri – the home of the legendary William Tell, perhaps the most potent figure in Switzerland's national mythos.

When – at last! – you arrive in Altdorf, you'll see not only Tell's memorial statue, but also many imposing buildings that bear witness to a darker side of Swiss history: they were built by mercenary captains who became rich leading companies of Swiss in foreign wars.

This may seem to be in dramatic contrast to Switzerland's famous neutrality... but in fact Switzerland was and remains one of the most militarized countries in the world, with universal compulsory military service and, in proportion to population, the largest army in Western Europe (220,000).

It isn't clear against whom they need to defend themselves today, surrounded as they are by the pacifistic countries of the European Union, but the Swiss are very conservative and, after all, who knows what tomorrow will bring? Better, they seem to be saying, to continue to practice the neutrality of the hedgehog... very much like a modern version of the Swiss mercenary regiments with their deadly long pikes.

Today's hike follows the same trails as the Via Alpina until the Via Alpina drops down after Mettenen to Spiringen (while the H2H continues on the balcony path). From the Klausenpass Hotel walk downhill along the road for several hundred meters and then at the first hairpin take the path that leads straight on. You then pass through Heidmanegg (1862m), Mettenen (1749m), Älpeli (1660m), Unterer Gisleralp (1685m), Hünderegg (1874m) and Eggbergen (1678m), before descending through the various hamlets of Planzeren (Oberer, Mittlerer, and Unterer) on your way down to Altdorf.

Alternatives: many of these for this stage. If the weather is bad consider taking a rest day because although the balcony path is safe enough, it won't be fun in the rain. If you want to shorten the day, you can take a cable car down from the lower reaches of Eggbergen (saving 2.5h, -1000m, 3.5km) to Flüelen, from which you can walk to Altdorf in about 30 minutes. If you spent the night in Urnerboden, or you are looking for a shorter, low-level hike and don't mind walking close to and at times on the road, then take the valley route via Äsch (1234m), Unterschächen (995m), Spiringen (923m), and Bürglen (535m). The totals for this alternative are 9.75h, 26km, +1020m, -2000m from Urnerboden, and 6.75h, 19km, +420m, -1900m from the Klausenpass Hotel. You can shorten this option by a further hour if you are willing to walk the 3.5km along the road from Unterschächen to Spiringen (rather than taking the up and down hiking path between the two). And lastly, if you take the valley route then you can hop into the bus (if there are seats available -- see below) at various places along the way.
Map: ST-246T Klausenpass.

The House to House blog... stage 26.

<A couple of representative photos from this stage will be added here after the hike>
In the meantime, click here to go to all of the H2H photos on Flickr.

GPS Track
<To be added during or after hike>

Room and Board Options
Lunch: picnic... perhaps more than once. There are lots of hamlets along the way, but no restaurants as far as I can tell.
Dinner and overnight: there are lots of restaurants and places to stay in Altdorf (for a complete list, see here).

Getting There and Back
Klausenpass Hotel: from Altdorf you can catch a regular bus in the direction of the Klausenpass that stops at the Hotel. However, due to its popularity it is advisable to reserve seats ahead of time (+41-(0)368/1010).
Altdorf: there is a railway station here (for both bus and train schedule information, see the SBB).
ViaMichelin Road Map and Driving Directions: centered on the Klausenpass, centered on Altdorf.

Background Information and Links
Many and various...

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