On a pathway to Hell

Boxing Day / 26 December 2015

I decide to go a-walkin´.

Wife at work while I have the day off and a ticket to ride anywhere in Switzerland for as long as 26 December 2015 lasts (0500 – 2400).

Decide to resume walk begun long ago in Bargen (the northernmost point in Switzerland)…

(See Borderline Obsessive of this blog.)

…and have already done bits by bit when time and money have permitted.

So far, over time and in stages, I have walked from Bargen to Bülach.

(See also Alex Supertramp and Canada Slim, Wheels and the Wanderer, Along Trail 34, Chasing Waterfalls, Unloved in Jerusalem, and Down the Rhine/Up the Glatt: The Poet´s Path of this blog.)

Leave Landschlacht at nine in the morning.

As usual, fog dominates everywhere, yet the advantage of fog is that what it doesn´t conceal the remaining details that can be seen are sharp, powerful and unforgettable.

A simple spider´s web upon a street sign is delineated by dewdrops upon its strands and the resulting image is branded on the memory.

Train to Schaffhausen…

(the setting of The Little Shop of Ethics, Tough to Be the Chosen, Sweet Caroline and the Candy Man, Memento mori, Do we need another hero?, Talkin´about a Revolution/Whispers, Oops! Did we do that?, Follow the money, Dennis, Probus Scafasia: Timeless River, Timely Man, The dark side of the red light, Song of the Executioner, The vicar and the vagabond and Five schillings´worth of wood of this blog)

…then train to Bülach.

Walk through Bülach´s attractive town centre with its timber-framed gabled town hall, towering St. Laurentius Church and the popular Sigristen Cellar Gallery, and the beautiful old Parish House and Tithe Barn.

Though I am generally following Swiss National Trail 77 / 7 Via Gottardo from its northern origins at Bargen to its southern end at Chiasso, I like to explore offtrail some of the local sites and attractions while I am in an area.

I make my way to a street leading towards the town of Hochfelden and find myself soon upon a trail called the Mittel Specht Pfad (the Middle Woodpecker Path), with a metre-high upright standing log with carved and painted European woodpecker with distinctive red hood and white striped wings.

The Path leads me back to the Glatt River and the outskirts of the town of Hochfeld, with its uninspiring population of 2, 000 quietly going about their business anonymously invisible.

Follow the Glatt River along its northern banks and suddenly find myself amongst the ruins of the old Jakobstal Spinnerei (Jacob´s Valley Spinning Mill).

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXZnKJsIXcE.

Spinnerei Jakobstal Übersicht um 1900

Spinnerei Jakobstal Übersicht um 1900

It is an odd sensation to find oneself unexpectedly in the middle of ruins.

Once this spinning mill employed hundreds of people.

Now it sits abandoned and lost.

Roofs fallen in, yet many of its generators still sitting inside rooms amongst fallen timbers and remnants of former walls.

Since the mill´s demise in 1990 I have not been its only visitor.

Campfire remains and graffiti show evidence of other visitors, including fans of the musical group, the Gorillaz.

I enter the spinning mill property along the River but now find further progress blocked by high wire fencing.

Fences mean private property and I am on the wrong side of the fence.

I hear police sirens.

In a panic I frantically seek escape from the wire enclosure.

I attempt to scale the fence but it seems unable to support my weight without damaging the fence or myself.

I quick-march along the fenced perimeters and find an unlocked gateway and scurry through.

I reach the highway to see the police car speed past intent on capturing some other criminal than myself.

For now, I abandon the Glatt and instead try to locate the Roman ruins of Seeb.

I walk by a horse stable and through a military barracks community and into the forests of Höhragen to reach in a forest clearing the Waldhütte (forest cabin) Höhragen.

Inside, but locked to visitors, is seating for 70 people.

Outside, two tables and four benches are my only companions as I contentedly eat the salad I carried with me.

The sun through the high trees warms me.

Life is good.

I continue through the forest upon paths previously trod by others to reach a parking lot and picnic area.

I cross a road and an Autobahn to find myself at the ruins of an old Roman spa guesthouse complex just outside the village of Seeb.

Villa Rustica Seeb was established in the first century AD and contained a large men´s hall, a bathing house and as yet other unexcavated buildings.

It was re-discovered by locals already mid-19th century and archeological excavation began in 1963.

The men´s hall still shows signs of painted walls and coloured mosaic floors.

I recall reading historical accounts of how former Roman sites had been robbed of their stonework and marble by those residents that followed.

The past, raided then forgotten.

I think of my own present day.

Will there ever be a day when folks will walk through the ruins of St. Gallen and ponder what kind of people worked under the banner of a mermaid with two tails?

Seeb, the village itself and gateway to Winkel Municipality, doesn´t seem to have much to recommend for itself.

You can overnight at the Gasthof Hecht with its hotel rooms, dining hall and restaurant, and pretend that you are much like the Romans a millennium ago who came to this area as guests as well.

There is a bus from Bülach that goes to Kloten, site of the Zürich Airport from 5 am to 11 pm every day.

Reto Hug and Nicola Spirig-Hug, both Swiss Olympian triathletes, live in this area.

As once did Walterio Meyer Rusca (born Walter Leo Meyer), who would leave the area and go on to great feats of engineering and exploring in Chile.

Seeb is home to the Kammerspiele Seeb, a chamber orchestra theatre built in the Jugendstil.

As far as I can tell, there is no connection to this hamlet and the coastal fishing city in Oman, also known as the location of a “beyond top secret” Internet monitoring site.

Just outside the hamlet, a sign showing the hiker that he/she is only 10 minutes´walking distance from Hell.

It is not completely clear what Hell actually is.

My Bülach hiking map simply attaches this name to some fields on the road connecting Seeb to Oberglatt.

(If according to Pat Benatar, “love is a battlefield”, is Hell a cattle field?)

On the outskirts of the Zürich Airport a building is marked Trafostation Hell.

A trafostation is an electrical transformer station.

Can one derive power from Hell?

(If you do seek power from Hell, consult Zürich Dr. Daniel Hell should you be suffering from depression.)

I leave the road to Oberglatt and follow a path through the Buchentaler Marsh, which squeezes between Zürich Airport fence perimeter and the Himmelbach Stream.

It is a long 5 kilometres but seeing jets land and take off as one strolls beside the banks of a stream is very distracting.

As the day draws closer to an end more casual walkers have appeared on the pathway and without a word spoken between folks, every one stops and stares at the jet traffic nearby.

I see Edelweiss Air and Swiss Air and British Airways and private planes and Star Alliance planes.

“Zürich Airport (German: Flughafen Zürich, IATA: ZRH, ICAO: LSZH), also known as Kloten Airport, is the largest international airport of Switzerland and the principal hub of Swiss International Air Lines.

It serves Zürich, Switzerland’s largest city, and, with its surface transport links, much of the rest of the country.

The airport is located 13 kilometres (8 mi) north of central Zürich, in the municipalities of Kloten, Rümlang, Oberglatt, Winkel and Opfikon, all of which are within the canton of Zürich.

The airport is owned by Flughafen Zürich AG, a company quoted on the SIX Swiss Exchange.

Major shareholders include the canton of Zürich, with 33.33% plus one of the shares, and the city of Zürich, with 5% of the shares.

No other shareholder has a holding exceeding 3%.

The first flight abroad from Switzerland was on 21 July 1921.

In the early years of aviation, the Dübendorf Air Base, located some 8 km (5.0 mi) to the south-east of Zürich Airport, also served as the city’s commercial airfield.

The need for a dedicated commercial facility lead to a search for a location for a replacement for Dübendorf.

In 1945, the federal parliament decided that Zürich was to be the site of a major airport, and sold 655 hectares (1,620 acres) of the Kloten-Bülach Artillery Garrison (German: Artillerie-Waffenplatz Kloten-Bülach) to the Canton of Zürich, giving the canton control of the new airport.

The construction of the airport began the next year.

The first flights off the west runway were not until 1948.

The new terminal opened in 1953 with a large air show that ran for three days.

On 18 February 1969, an El Al aircraft was attacked, whilst being prepared for takeoff, by four armed members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The attack was repulsed by the aircraft’s security guard, resulting in the death of one of the terrorists, whilst the Boeing 720‘s co-pilot subsequently died of his injuries.

On 18 January 1971, an inbound Balkan Bulgarian Airlines Il-18D approached Zurich Airport in fog below the glideslope.

It crashed and burst into flames, 0.7 kilometres (0.43 mi) north of the airport, when both left wingtip and landing gear contacted the ground.

Seven crew members and 38 passengers were killed.

The first signs of noise mitigation for the airport were in 1972, when a night-time curfew was enacted, as well as in 1974 when new approach routes were introduced.

On 2 October 2001, a major cash-flow crisis at Swissair, exacerbated by the global downturn in air travel caused by the September 11 attacks, caused the airline to ground all its flights.

Although a government rescue plan permitted some flights to restart a few days later, and the airline’s assets were subsequently sold to become Swiss International Air Lines, the airport lost a lot of traffic.

On 18 October 2001, a treaty was signed between Germany and Switzerland regarding the limitation of flights over Germany.

Under the terms of this treaty, any incoming aircraft after 22:00 had to approach Zürich from the east to land on runway 28, which, unlike the airport’s other runways, was not equipped with an instrument landing system.

A month later, at 22:06 on 24 November, an inbound Crossair Avro RJ100 using this approach in conditions of poor visibility crashed into a range of hills near Bassersdorf and exploded, killing 24 of the 33 people on board.

The flight had originally been scheduled to land on runway 14 before 22:00, but it was subject to delay and was therefore diverted to runway 28.

Zurich Airport handled 25.5 million passengers in 2014.

World Travel Awards, an international jury of hospitality experts and peers decided on awards presented to hotels, airports, airlines and other hospitality companies, has evaluated Zurich airport as the best European airport from 2004 to 2015,[ according to various aspects, such as accuracy, entertainment, friendliness and punctuality.

Zurich Airport has three runways: 16/34 of 3,700 m (12,100 ft) in length, 14/32 of 3,300 m (10,800 ft) in length, and 10/28 of 2,500 m (8,200 ft) in length.

For most of the day and in most conditions, runway 14 is used for landings and runways 16 and 28 are used for takeoffs, although different patterns are used early morning and in the evenings.

Zürich Airport offers scheduled and charter flights to 196 destinations in 62 countries around the world.

The airport has three airside piers, which are known as terminals A, B and E (also signposted as Gates A, B/D and E).

These are linked to a central air-side building called Airside Center, built in 2003.

Alongside the Airside Center, the ground-side terminal complex named Airport Center comprises several buildings, and includes airline check-in areas, a shopping mall, a railway station, car parks, and a bus and tram terminal.

All departing passengers access the same departure level of the Airside Center, which includes duty-free shopping and various bars and restaurants, via airport security.” (Wikipedia)

I have flown from Zürich Airport before and worked for a year teaching business English at SR Technics which services the planes at the Airport.

It is an airport I am intimately acquainted with and it is with positive emotion that I follow the perimeter fence kilometre after kilometre.

How the wild man, the wanderer in me, would love to enter the Airport and buy a ticket to Anywhere and let my fancies take flight.

To walk through Hell to fly in the heavens…

I often contemplate writing a novel like Arthur Hailey´s Airport or Greg Baxter´s Munich Airport or a documentary like Alain de Botton´s A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary.

I am one of the few people in St. Gallen who teaches English for pilots and I have also taught technical English.

I have never enjoyed flying and knowing exactly what can go wrong is not at all comforting!

The nearest town to the Airport is Kloten (population 18,000).

Kloten was home to copper artist / engraver Johann Heinrich Lips, lawyer and Zionist Leo Landau, Olympian hockey left winger Roman Wäger and hockey player and coach Felix Hollenstein.

(In his career, Hollenstein played 650 matches in the NLA and 131 for Switzerland men’s national ice hockey team, where he scored 47 goals.)

Kloten is the home of the Kloten Flyers, who play in the Swiss National Hockey League A.

It has one of the best youth systems in Swiss Ice Hockey as its youth teams have won 19 championships during the last 50 years.

EHC Kloten won four consecutive Swiss championships from 1993 to 1996.

They have never been relegated at any point in the club’s history.

Sixteen Kloten Flyers players would later play in the National Hockey League in North America.

In the centre of town, a monument, a giant hockey puck stands proud of its team.

How Canadian it is to stand beside a hockey puck!

Night has fallen and I have promised to attend an Xmas season party at my friend Augustin´s flat in St. Gallen.

No matter how successful the party may be I still feel that I had a very pleasant day, feeling as if I not only crossed miles but times as well.

I am Mercury and my feet have wings.










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