This Cross-Country Hike Took 5 Days. That’s Going the Long Way.

I stood on the edge of the border town in the shadow of a 12th-century castle high on a hill. I was sandwiched between the craggy peaks of 7,600-foot mountains in front of me, and 7,200-foot peaks behind me. The only sounds I heard were birds chirping. The rural village road I was standing on had nary a car.What a great day to start a cross-country trek.Telling friends beforehand, I couldn’t help suppress a sheepish smile. What country are you hiking across? they asked.Liechtenstein.O. K., Europe’s fourth-smallest country — behind Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino — is only 17 miles long and nine miles wide. It is one cattle farm bigger than Staten Island. You can drive its length in 25 minutes. A middle-aged person with a long-expired gym membership could walk across it in two days.However, I wasn’t just walking across a country. I was walking across history.This year marks Liechtenstein’s 300-year anniversary, and it is using its tricentennial to reintroduce itself to the world. As part of its yearlong festivities, the principality created a 46.6-mile trail traversing the country, crisscrossing through all 11 of its towns — count ‘em, 11 — partly on village roads but mostly on twisting and mountainous trails.
It’s called the Liechtenstein Trail and I was the country’s first guinea pig.By the end of this month, trekkers will be able to download an app that shepherds them along the route and also describes 133 points of interest. When trekkers point their cellphones at one of these 133 spots, augmented reality will help them visualize how it appeared in history or why it is notable.
ImageThe writer, John Henderson, left, on the first leg of the trail with Leander Schädler, a local historian and guide.CreditMarina Pascucci

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