Distance: 16.8 km
Elev: 630 m up, 188 m down, net + 450 m
Time: 8 hours total (quoted at 4.5 hrs)
Starting on the Jakobsweg again in the morning, we pass by a bakery-cafe only a block from the Herberge; it would certainly be possible to have breakfast there, in addition to picking up lunch supplies. The tourist office and an ATM face this same plaza.
It is cool and cloudy, with a promise of showers later, as we start walking across the lake. It’s not what you think! There are several islands scattered along the middle of the lake, with a pedestrian boardwalk connecting them.
At the train station in Pfäffikon (another supply point), we turn inland and start climbing. For a short while the clouds lift, so we have spectacular views of the Zurichsee lake, as well as warming sun. The way is steep, often fitted with steps that are uncomfortably tall, and very little shade.
The next section still continued steeply, the trees now providing shade from their canopies and footholds from their roots. It was just as steep going downhill of course, and we were frequently dodging mountain bikes headed down.
At last we reached the day’s highest elevation at Etzelpass. St Meinrad, the Benedictine monk who founded the abbey at Einsiedeln, started as a hermit here. There is a chapel shrine to his memory, and the old Pilgerherberge is still operating as a Gasthof. Their terrace has lovely views all around and we sorely needed our cold drink! Then we descend to the Devils Bridge, build of stone as the quarry and the abbey are on opposite sides of the river.
And back up again, as the rain clouds finally get serious with a shower before we reach Einsiedeln. The guidebook and the waymarking indicate this trip is 4.5 hours of walking. With probably 2 hours of breaks, all told, it has taken me 8 hours.
Lodging. In Rapperswil we saw an advert for a bed-and-breakfast in Einsiedeln with private rooms at pilgrim rates, less expensive than the dormitory at the Kloster. This Gasthaus Zum Webstuhl is a few blocks off the main street, about 10 minutes from the Kloster and 5 minutes from the train station. So, in a residential area with restaurants a few minutes’ walk away – not terribly convenient but acceptable. Host is mainly a German-speaker, with a bit of French and very little English. Breakfast was nice but not exceptional.