This article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.
In my previous post, I’ve written how I sadly went off-trail. And that only after three full days on the trail due to my knee pain. I went with the bus to San Sebastian to figure out something else to do in Spain. I gotta tell, it wasn’t easy. Never have I quit a trail and it hit me therefore pretty hard. To lighten my mood I wanted to stay at the beach. But guess what, when I arrived in San Sebastian it was raining and damn cold for Spain…
My knee trail angel
Luckily though, the table turned in a good way! Chase, the guy from Youtube messaged me on Instagram and offered to help me with my knee. He was pretty sure that my injury was treatable and that I can finish the trail when I’m maintaining my knee. First I wasn’t sure but he really encouraged me, so I packed my bag. You can imagine how excited I was to get back on trail! While I was in San Sebastian I kept in contact with Sara, the girl I met before going off-trail in Elizondo. I decided to skip the two days and take the bus to where she was, that we could hike together. If I can choose between hiking with people (and what a person!) or hiking by myself, I always prefer hiking in a group 😀 Guess it’s good that I’m not a purist.
BEST SECOND START EVER
There’s this saying on trail – the trail provides. Oh man, and how it provided! When I arrived with the bus in Burgette, I felt like the luckiest girl in the entire world. The weather improved all of a sudden and I had the best company you can ever imagine. I’m always amazed by people that you immediately click with and give you the feeling you know them already for a long time. Sara was one of this rare kind! It was already late afternoon when we hiked out of town about 5km. There we set up on a nice spot in the forest with a nice view of the fields.
Our mornings looked mostly like this: we set down our tents and had breakfast outside. The packing went quite fast, breakfast then took its time. After all, packed up, we stretched for about 5-15min. Depending on how cold it was outside. Before this trip, I didn’t stretch that much on a hike. But Chase told me if I wanna hike the whole trail, I gotta do the exercises to improve my knee every morning and evening! So, I did. I was happy to be together with Sara because then we could remind each other and actually did it. My discipline would have been not enough. Usually, it took us about an hour to leave camp and hit the trail. In the end, we got lazier and lazier and it took us about 1.5 hours.
The first day Sara and I hiked together was a very memorable day! The trail went the first bit through the forest and then on a dirt road thru meadows. At one spot there were young horses on the road! It was the first horses we saw on trail, many more to come 😀 The weather was great for the first time in days. We had a small snack break in the little village called Orbara, situated underneath some beautiful limestone rock formations. The following ascend was hot and we had to carry out a lot of water. Normally the water situation was pretty good. But after the next village, each of us carried 4 liters. The pack was heavy!
On the way up, we met two Germans who looked for their mule. He ran away in the night and they were searching for him since. We exchanged numbers in case we see the mule. Unfortunately, we didn’t. After a steep and hot ascent we finally made it up there and we couldn’t believe our eyes. We saw, for the first time, the High Pyrenees! After being in the forest for a while the ridge opened up. The views were endless! You could almost see back to the Ocean and ahead to the high mountains, which we were soon there to climb. Our excitement was big 😀 Also, there was another herd of horses upon the open ridge, pure magic!
The cool thing about the GR 11, there are many unmanned huts (also called bothy by the brits) where you can stay in. Mostly they were located somewhere up high, which is normally kinda risky with a tent because what if the weather changes. That day we were lucky to stay in our very first bothy. The location was phenomenal! It has been a long day, we hiked about 25km and we were tired. While letting our food soak we stretched outside. Also, we met the french girl which we saw earlier. It was nice to not set up the tent and just the footprint inside the hut. We had dinner inside protected from the wind. In the evening two bikers came and also stayed there, gladly the hut had two rooms.
During the night the clouds covered the views, but in the morning all was clear. We started quite early around 6.45 am and started hiking down to Ochagavia. It took us about two and a half hours to get there. The descent was long and in the end very steep. Due to that, I felt my right knee and we had to take a break to roll it with the trekking pole, which helped immediately. Unfortunately, the shop in town wasn’t open yet when we arrived. Therefore, we went into the panaderia (the bakery) to get bigger water bottles and I got a pastry. When finally the small groceries shop opened Sara went over there and I watched the packs. After a much longer break than planned, we hiked out of town.
The trail went on a dirt road almost the rest of the day. But we didn’t mind it, at least you can hike fast on a road and it was going gradually uphill. About 2.3o hours in, we had lunch at a little cabin. There wasn’t a lot of shade on the road, so it was nice to sit a bit inside while eating lunch. The hike wasn’t that interesting after lunch, we just followed the road along the hills and then finally left the road. We set up camp around 4.30 pm and had a long stretching party. My knee was already doing so much better! It’s impressive how these simple exercises help so much and so fast. In the evening we were surrounded by three thunderstorms, but luckily none of them went over us.
Damn, it was a windy night. We left camp without having breakfast which I normally hate to do. But it turned out not too bad I must say. After an hour we stopped at a small chapel and had breakfast there. Soon after we walked into the town of Isaba. Shortly before though, we met the first thru-hiker coming from the Med! We chatted for a while and he gave us some tips on where to camp. In Isaba, we bought some bread in the bakery and then hiked on. Our plan for today was to make a Nero (only hike half a day) today.
The trail went once again on a dirt road through a beautiful gorge though! It was the first big rock wall we saw as we started. We crossed into the state of Aragon, which is the home of the high mountains! We arrived at camping Zuriza around 12.30 pm. That place was the biggest disappointment so far. We planned on buying food at their supermarket, which weirdly didn’t exist anymore. Also, they didn’t have wifi (they kinda had, but didn’t give the password). We wanted to wash our clothes, which we didn’t wash in a week (disgusting smelly). But of course, they didn’t have a washing machine or dryer. It was a total disaster!
All we wanted to do is rest, but we were busy all afternoon figuring out what to do. The lack of food was a big issue. We had to walk for at least 1.5 days to the next town. Gladly two Spanish guys gave us their leftover nuts, which saved us in the end. We ended up eating in the restaurant lunch and dinner to save our food. It was also hard to get some good vegan food there. But hey, we survived!
That’s a wrap! The first week on trail done and about 165km into the GR 11. The time flies on the trail, but at the same time, it feels like you spent already a month there because of all the happenings!
In Week 2, Sara and I enter the High Pyrenees. Stay tuned for the next post 🙂
This article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.
The journey can begin.
I entered the train early in the morning in Zürich. After a short layover in Paris, the journey continued. In the evening I finally arrived in Hondarribia, the Basque Country (Spain). I enjoyed the train ride! To my surprise, it was pouring down when I left the train. Yep, I was in Spain and it was cold and rainy. Due to the weather, I booked a last-minute hotel room in the cute old town.
The next day was, fortunately, better weather, so I went to the beach and had a swim in the Atlantic. How nice it was and even warmer than I expected! I walked to the Campground and set up my tent. It was Siesta which is normally between 1.30 pm until 5 pm, therefore nobody was at the reception. Lucky for me, the bar next door was open and I had a beer and some olives. I just enjoyed sitting close to the ocean and relaxing. In the evening I had dinner at the campground and there was a band playing, how cool! They even taught other people some dance moves haha.
The adventure can begin.
During the night there was a big thunderstorm coming in from the Ocean. I didn’t sleep that well. Also, because people were chatting all night long. But the excitement was big, although I was also slightly nervous for the next morning. The morning I was starting my crossing of the Pyrenees! Before I left, I had some serious problems with my right knee which only added to my nervousness. The trail started close to the campground at the Cabo de Higuer out on the peninsula. For this trail I set myself a challenge: I wanted to film my journey and make videos. I’ll let you know when the videos are online! Stay tuned for that 😀
The first kilometers the GR 11 goes through the town of Hondarribia and then Irun before you leave civilization behind. It took me quite some time to get thru, I stopped for second breakfast in a Cafè. After that, I got lost in the town of Irun. I noticed my heavy backpack when I climbed out of town on the first hill. The basque country is so green and just beautiful! After lunch at some picnic tables on a road, I met the first other thru-hikers. More specifically it was a German couple in their fifties, my guess. The trail was following mostly dirt roads the entire day which was quite nice to start with. It was surprisingly warm that day, it only rained in the morning a bit. Approximately after 20km I called it a day and camped with the German couple next to a little chapel on a reservoir. I was pretty tired coming to camp but mostly just happy from the bottom of my heart!
The second day started with a climb, then it passed by some nice farmhouses. I must say the marking so far was great. You follow these red-white markers so easily. When you’re on the wrong way the markers form a cross to let you know you ventured off-trail. The trail followed along the rolling hills with amazing views back to the Ocean and to the first trail town Bera. Down to Bera was the first bigger descent and it didn’t go as well as I wanted. I started to notice my right knee. First I thought it’s gonna be fine. But later in the day it still wasn’t. In Bera, I took a break and tried not to worry too much about my knee. The climb out of Bera was steep, but the view on top of the hill made me forget all the sweating uphill. The trail went down and up more hills. Sadly, my knee pain got worse and worse. I was devastated, sad and angry at the same time.
Sidestory to my knee problems
It was my fault, that I had these knee problems now. I made the mistake of overwork my body on a trip in May and paid the price of dealing with pain for several weeks till it finally went away. But it went only away because luckily I found some exercises of Chase Mountains on Youtube that really helped me! Please check his channel out, he has some pretty awesome stuff uploaded.
As it went downhill I had to slow down more and more. However, the pain was still unbearable with every step I took. Luckily it didn’t go downhill all day so on the uphill, it was fine to walk and I made up the time I lost on the descent. It was a long day and I only met the Germans about halfway in the day and then just before camp. Otherwise, I didn’t see anyone on trail the entire day. I was kinda also happy not to see anyone because I was crying a lot on my descents… It was this day, that I realized that if my knee is not gonna improve I’m done with hiking for this summer and this broke my heart. I tried not to think about getting off-trail, but I couldn’t. Accordingly to the situation, I said to myself if my knee doesn’t improve till tomorrow I’m gonna quit there in Elizondo. There’s just no reason to continue hiking.
The day of truth. Around midnight a thunderstorm came in and kept me awake, but I fell asleep eventually. I camped again with the Germans which was nice because they cheered me up! I hit the trail around 7.30 am and damn, it was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining and the views were incredible. It was like the trail showed me all the beauty it has that I will probably not see for long.
The GR 11 went up on ridge once more! Green hills as far as you could see, the beautiful Basque country. I still saw back to the Ocean and over to the French Mountains because the border is so close. Up there, there were a few old bunkers from the second world war that was still visible. The descent to Elizondo was long and mostly on dirt roads. At a road crossing, I stopped for lunch at a picnic area. An old man came by and asked me some questions. I didn’t quite understand everything that he said and I had to somehow explain that I sadly don’t speak any Spanish. I wished I did though!
As I got closer and closer to town I was sure that I would quit here. It was the smarter decision to stop now before injuring it even more. I knew I made the right decision, but it was at the same time also heartbreaking… The Germans and I had a beer before they set out on the trail again and I stayed. Devastated and lost I sat there. I called my parents to tell them what happened. Later on, I checked into a hotel room. One thing I was sure about, I was not going home! I had planned to be back in six weeks, so if it’s not a thru-hike I’m gonna figure out something else to do in Spain. After a really long shower, I went to bed for a short nap which accidentally ended up being way longer and I skipped dinner and went to sleep again.
The next morning
I met a girl on the Facebook group of the GR 11. She started a day after me and caught me here in Elizondo. Therefore, we decided to meet up in the morning 😀 I gotta say, it was even harder to see her hike out of town. Because we got along so well and it would have been just too cool to hike together! I decided to take the bus to San Sebastian to figure out what to do. As I walked to the bus station, I found out that I missed the direct bus to San Sebastian. So, I had to take a bus to Pamplona and then to San Sebastian. I stayed two nights in a hostel there.
Man, I was lost!
Wonder how the story goes on? Stay tuned for my next post!
This article originally appeared on The Trek, which you can read here.
I am back from my thru-hike of crossing the Spanish Pyrenees along the GR 11. Let me tell you, this trail will not disappoint you in any way! But before diving into my experience, let’s start with some basic information about this trail.
The GR 11 is about 500 miles or 830km long. It starts at the Atlantic Ocean at Cabo de Higuer and follows the mountain range to Cap de Creus at the Mediterranean Sea. This trail has a lot to offer and I can highly recommend hiking it to everyone. That’s because is very diverse in its landscape and not so well known (I think).
You start at the Atlantic, where the climate is rainy and more humid. The Basque Country is hilly and so green, because of all the water. As you go on to Navarra the terrain is gonna change. It’s the transformation from the green hills of the Basque into the High Pyrenees of Aragon. When you arrived in Aragon, you are in the High Pyrenees and damn, they are stunning! You climb over mountain passes every day and soon enter Catalunya. The high mountains continue till you make a short stopover in Andorra, which is a very tiny country between Spain and France. After Andorra, you climb to the highest pass on the GR 11 and then descend into a hotter climate as you get closer to the Mediterranean Sea. The high mountains change into rolling hills, which become lower and lower in elevation. Then suddenly you are going over the last hill and there it is – the Mediterranean Sea! You made it 😀
But why the GR 11?
There are three different trails that cross the Pyrenees. One of them is the GR 10, which is mainly on the French side then there is the GR 11, which is mainly on the Spanish side and then there is the HRP (High Route Pyrenees), which goes through both France and Spain.
I chose the GR 11 for a few reasons: First of all, it had the perfect length for the time window I had available. Because the GR 10 is about 900km, so a bit too long, and the HRP I thought, was too difficult for me. Furthermore, the weather is supposed to be more stable on the Spanish side rather than on the French side. Another reason for the GR 11 was that there are fewer people hiking it than the GR 10. I didn’t want to hike the HRP because it’s mainly unmarked and stays mostly high where you’re very exposed to the elements. I wasn’t sure if I’m experienced enough. But let’s see, I would love to cross the Pyrenees another time and maybe then on the HRP. Who knows!
In the upcoming time, I will write about my experience on the GR 11!
Stay tuned and Happy Trails 🙂
p.s. my hike was like a rollercoaster for many reasons, find out why in the next post.
A new week began and sadly it was the last one. The trail has come to an end and what an end it was. I couldn’t imagine a better end for my hiking summer! But let’s begin where I ended on the last post.
Day 29 – Cabane Brunet to Grand St. Bernard
I slept very well that night. Breakfast was at 7 o’clock, so I got up shortly before and packed everything. The nice thing about sleeping in a hut is you’re so fast with packing. I wasn’t used anymore to get up that early. The breakfast buffet was alright, but not outstanding. When I looked out of the window the sky was clear and I saw glacier mountain tops! I started hiking around quarter to eight. Firstly it went on road downhill to go just after uphill again. It was nice to start hiking early again because I love hiking in the morning! I didn’t see any other person the whole morning and also very little the whole day. The trail to Col de Mille was kinda flat and there were nice views down to the valley. After a steep ascent to the pass, the views were incredible!! I made a short snack break to enjoy the view 🙂 I was really good on time, I could already see the village I walk to. The stage was only to the village of Bourg St. Pierre. The trail down there leads first on the mountainside overlooking the whole valley, just amazing! I listened to music and was in the flow. I saw the town of Champex Lac where I walk through in a day. Instead of going straight to Champex Lac, the trail went over the Pass of Grand St. Bernard into the Valley Ferret. In Bourg St. Pierre it was only 2 pm and I wasn’t sure to call it a day or not. It would be a short day, so I continued without really knowing were to camp. I also wanted to test out how far I can go in a day. The weather was better than I expected. Dark clouds were covering the sky, but luckily no rain. So I continued walking towards the Pass of Grand St. Bernard. The trail markers said 4 hours to the Pass, but I aimed for less. Normally the time on the markers is quite good calculated and often I was faster. Out of Bourg St. Pierre, the trail followed a dirt road up to a dam, which took me about an hour. I was sweating a lot because of the uphill and the warm temperature. My shirt started to smell bad… It has been already some days since I washed my stuff. The trail went on slightly uphill and always in sight the road that leads up the pass. My motivation wasn’t so high because of that. But I hiked on and on. The scenery around me was beautiful. I walked by some cows and crossed the road a few times till I was at the pass. It took me longer than I thought and I was really tired when I finally reached the pass. On the Grand St. Bernard Pass is a very historic Monastery located and the famous Saint Bernard dogs are from there! Because I didn’t reserve anything I had to ask if I could sleep there. The monks were nice, we drank tea first and then he showed me around. I showered and washed my stuff until dinner was ready. At dinner, I met a guy who walked the red Via Alpina. He didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak French at all, so the conversation was only little. I would have loved to ask him more about his hike. It was one of these moments, where I wished I would speak french. After dinner, I went straight to bed. I was so tired!
Day 30 – Grand St. Bernard to Champex Lac
I slept like a baby all night. But in the morning I woke up to the noise of the other people in the dormitory. Some people were already packing their bags an hour before breakfast… I have no idea what they did for an hour! I tried to enjoy a few more minutes in bed and finally got up when I heard music in the hallway. It was not just any music, it was music from Enya. Somehow it fitted so perfectly to the atmosphere of a monastery! Before I went downstairs, I packed my things. At the table, I felt exactly like yesterday. The other hiker and I sat together with some monks. The conversation started, but unfortunately without me. All in all, it was a nice experience to stay there! Sure, very unique 🙂 The monk was not there when I wanted to pay, so I went to Italy on foot! Haha, that’s also very cool about this place, because it’s right on the border with Italy! The weather was beautiful in the morning. After a short stay on the other side of the lake, I went back to pay and finally started hiking. It was already after 9 am when I started for the first pass. The path led through bits of gravel slightly uphill. About one hour later I was on the pass and enjoyed the view. From here I could already see the next pass at the same elevation, but I had to go down and up again first 😉 I knew that the weather should not be so good in the afternoon, so I went on. The descent was steep and through loose gravel. I walked slowly and carefully to avoid falling, which can happen very easily in this terrain. On the ascent, to the second pass, I took a short snack break. After two hours of hiking, I was already hungry. The view from the pass was beautiful! I could see again the mountain range I saw the day before, only today it was right in front of me 🙂 The descent was steep again and through loose gravel. The dark clouds were getting more and more and so I walked past these three beautiful lakes. Since I got into a thunderstorm I am very careful with the weather. A little further down beside the path I had lunch on a flat spot with a view over the valley. Many people were on the trail today, the road was not far away. Soon after I walked on a dirt road and then on a road that led me to the village. It started to rain a little bit and I packed my camera in my backpack. In La Fouly I bought some snacks in the grocery store and then I went to a restaurant for coffee and cake! The weather didn’t get any better, so I stayed there for some time and called my family. In the restaurant was the cutest dog ever, I just had to pet him! When the rain stopped, I continued walking until I found a small hut not far from the village. I decided to spend the night there. Here I was protected from the rain and didn’t even have to put up my tent. I cooked dinner and some people wandered by. Now the Alpine Aass Trail is on the famous Tour de Mont Blanc. The shelter had no door to close and so I found some wood to put in front of the entrance. I was a little bit afraid that someone would come, although I know it makes no sense. Falling asleep was quite a challenge here…
Day 31 – La Fouly to Champex Lac
I have to admit that I did not sleep much that night. During the night there was a thunderstorm and around 5 am the first people passed by with their headlamps. More and more people passed by, so I got up and had breakfast. At about 8 am, I started hiking. Surprisingly, the path was quite flat for a while! But the weather was not the best, after one hour it started to drizzle and I put on my rain jacket. It was a really cold morning, but I continued walking in my shorts. When I looked back, I saw the storm coming closer and closer! In a small village, there was a small restaurant, where I had a coffee to warm up and sit out the bad weather 🙂 I also checked the bus connection to Champex Lac in case the weather would not change. I was glad that it did, so I kept on hiking! Now on the Tour de Mont Blanc, I saw many other hikers, almost too many haha. The way up to Champex Lac was well maintained, I was not used to such a beautiful trail. It reminded me of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)! I guess that is because I am now on the Tour de Mont Blanc. I was wrong, as I found out later. When I arrived in Champex Lac it was noon and I was hungry. So I was looking for a restaurant. I found a nice one and arrived just in time because the warm kitchen just opened! I ordered a quiche (a small paté with goat cheese and tomatoes) and a side salad. My stomach was always looking forward to a nice meal from the city 🙂 After a walk by the lake through the village I went to the campground. The reception was closed, but a sign said that you can put up your tent and check in later. There were other hikers, so I chatted with them. The couple I chatted with were from France and of course, they were hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc. I took a shower and washed my shirt. While I dried my shirt, I laid in the shade and relaxed. In the afternoon I went to the bakery near the campsite for coffee and cake. Today was a short hiking day, which is also very nice from time to time. When I came back, the campground became more and more crowded and there were other tents everywhere beside mine. I checked in at the reception and bought a beer and a bag of chips which I ate while cooking ramen. Also in the evening, more people came and the campground became full. Tomorrow was my last day on the trail, crazy! So I went to bed early and also because it started to rain.
Day 32 – Champex Lac to Le Chatelard
Today began a very special day, my last full day of hiking on the alpine pass trail, and with it the end of my hiking summer 2020! I slept well last night. It rained almost all night and my tent was soaking wet in the morning. I overslept a little and packed my things quickly. I had breakfast in the shelter before the reception. I started hiking at about 7.20 am, ahead of most of the others. My plan for today was to walk 1.5 stages so that I could reach my final destination. I made this decision because of the weather. It should be sunny and warm today and tomorrow, and then it should rain. So I planned to camp the last night in a very special place, but more about that later! Firstly it went downhill on a dirt road. It’s always bad to go downhill first because you know that it will surely go uphill again 😉 And so it was! In the beginning, the road was only slightly uphill. When the road ended, a very steep and stony trail led uphill, and the condition of the trail was really bad. Yesterday I thought that the trail on the Tour de Mont Blanc was well maintained, but I was wrong. I climbed up a trail with loose gravel and it sucked! In front of me, one guy even pushed his bike uphill. I thought it was impossible to ride down here. When I asked him why he was doing that, he said he was going to meet some people and take pictures with his bike… Funny fact is that I was faster than him when he pushed his bike up there 🙂 Soon some other mountain bikers came down the trail and stopped in front of me. The one guy told me that today there will be a mountain bike race on this trail. I had about one hour to reach the summit before the race started. I was glad that the guy told me about it. Otherwise, it could have been pretty dangerous. I hiked further and had a break just before the summit. It was perfect timing and the perfect place to watch the mountain bikers descend! They rushed down past me at high speed. It was not such a good trail and they just rode down as if nothing was wrong… Crazy, but cool to watch! I was walking further when many people already passed me. It was just a little bit uphill and then downhill to Col de Forclaz. The hike there was mostly through the forest and pretty steep downhill. On the pass, it was almost noon, and I continued walking because I had not even covered half of today’s mileage. I walked down to the village of Trient and had lunch there. I hoped to buy some snacks there, but there was no store in sight. So I ate everything I still had in my food bag. I can tell you, it was not much… During the meal, I also dried my tent 🙂 After the break, the last ascent was waiting for me. It was getting hot and I was sweating so much while walking uphill. I was in a hurry somehow, because I wanted to catch the last cog railway from Le Chatelard up to Lac d’Emosson. I had to climb 700 meters of elevation gain to get there, and about the same amount of elevation, I had to go down again on the other side. The path was steep, first in the forest, and then exposed to the sun. On the way there I set a new personal speed record. I covered 700 meters of altitude in 1.5 hours! I was impressed and also a bit proud of myself 🙂 Up there I could see the Lac d’Emosson on the other side of the valley. I was emotional for a moment, I made it back here! The place where I left the track after the rockfall incident. I didn’t give up, I changed the direction of the trail, and here I am back again. The last part was all downhill. On the ridge, it was quite windy, but as I continued downhill, the wind was not so strong anymore. I was flying walking downhill and very good on time! It was a steep descent, but nothing could have stopped me now! Walking through the village Le Chatelard was like going home. I was the happiest girl in the world! I made it, hell, yes!! It was only 4 o’clock when I went up to the Lac d’Emosson. I was the only one going up there, and it felt so cool that everyone else went the other way. When you go up there, you first take a cog railway, then a mini-train along the side to the mini funicular. I had everything to myself! In the restaurant, I ordered a big croute (slices of bread topped with cheese, tomatoes, and onions) and a big beer! Damn, was I hungry 😀 A friend gave me a tip for a great camp spot. It was next to the restaurant, on a hill. From here you should have a great view of the Mont Blanc! But in the evening the sky was cloudy and it even rained on me. I was hoping for tomorrow morning! In the evening I was texting with friends and enjoying my last evening 🙂 Today was a long day and I fall asleep as soon as I was in my sleeping bag!
The next morning was one of the most magical sunrises I have ever seen! I woke up when I heard someone passing by my tent. Then I immediately went outside in my Puffy. What I saw was breathtaking! The sky was orange and the clouds were below me and I had the full mountain panorama! What an ending!
What I didn’t mention on Day 21 that it was Swiss national day! In the evening was also in the small village of Gruben some firework. We were only two people in the dorm room in the hotel and when the guy came in the evening, he had some wine left. He invited me for a glass of wine and we had a nice chat! He was only staying for the weekend in Switzerland and did some nice hikes I had already completed last year on my trip through Valais. Let’s go onto Week 4!
Day 22 – Gruben to Zinal
So as I checked the weather forecast in the evening, it was supposed to be cloudy and eventually rain in the afternoon. I texted my friends whom were currently in their place in Villars if I can stay for two nights there due to the weather forecast. Helen said, I should try to walk to Zinal and come for a day. My plan was to have a early start that I can make it before the rain in the afternoon. Luckily, breakfast started already at 6.30am. It’s been a while since I got up that early, but I made it 🙂 Breakfast was nice and I started hiking around 7am. The sky was clear and no clouds to see! I was really surprised but didn’t rely on it too much, because the weather can change here so fast! As I was in the valley the trail began with a climb… I felt really good in the morning and the climb was over so quickly. Just underneath the pass there was a beautiful lake and I had a short break there. Soon after I stood on the pass only to realize it was just 9.30am. Wow! I guess I’ve never been on a pass so early. I already hiked a 900 metre elevation gain (new personal record, 900meters in 2.15h)! The views were stunning and the weather still great!! You could see Weisshorn, Bishorn and soooo many more high mountains. I could already see the Weisshorn Hotel in the distance, where I was familiar the trail. It was a nice walk down and as I descended it gradually became crowded with tourists. When I was at the Hotel round about 11 o’clock I treated myself to a nice cup of coffee and a delicious piece of myrtle berry pie! Soon the darker clouds approached and I knew I had to carry on to Zinal. The walk to there was really nice on the mountain side with perfect view to Zinalrothorn, Dent Blanche and even the Matterhorn!! I had a lunch break and then descended to Zinal. I was familiar with the walk from last year, where Walker’s Haute Route (also a really nice walk). In Zinal I had a beer, it was a long and exhausting day! Just as I walked to the bus stop it started to rain – perfect timing. It was a long ride to Villars, but a really nice one 🙂 Helen picked me up at the train station and we walked together to their place. We had a lovely evening together!
two rest Day in Villars / Sierre
The day I stayed in Villars it rained the whole day, so perfect for a rest day! We were indoors all day and played cards and I had catchup calls with friends and family 🙂 Helen made some delicious food and it was really relaxing. In the evening we watched “the revenant”, which was a lot more intense than I thought.
I really enjoyed the stay and the company! Thanks again Helen and Malcolm for the lovely stay and the endless hospitality!! The next day I met my brother Peter in Sierre where went grocery shopping and then later in the afternoon we took the bus to Lac de Moiry. I had to skip the section from Zinal to Lac de Moiry because they were construction works and the trail was diverted (and I already hiked it last year). When we arrived it was kinda chilly, so we set up our tent pretty quickly.
Day 23 – Lac de Moiry to La Sage
Before going to bed, I set the alarm for 7am. When I woke up I could already feel the chill outside. Reluctantly I had to go outside because I needed to pee. As I opened the door icicles were falling off. It was freezing cold. When I overlooked the grass it was all white and frozen. The weather was absolutely great, not a single cloud in the sky and the mountains had surfaced fresh snow. It looked gorgeous!!! But it was too cold (also for me) and we stayed for at least another two hours in the tent 🙂 Then finally the sun hit our tent and we had breakfast outside! It was for sure my coldest night on the whole trip. It took a while till everything was packed and we started our hike (finally) at 10.30am. My brother had some issues with his ankle and was generally not in great shape, so we took it slowly. It was first going uphill to the Col de Torrent. After an hour we reached a nice little lake where we encountered a large herd of Eringer cows and I got my cautious of them. A strange lady on the other hand did the complete opposite and tried to pet the cows to get photos. Peter and I made the pass within 2 hours, which was really good. Due to the perfect weather there was a crowd of day tourists having lunch up there. I’ve never seen so many people (about 30) sitting at one spot on my whole hike so far. I was a little shocked, but I couldn’t blame them, it was a great spot with stunning views. You could see Mont Blanc and so many more mountains and glaciers, just incredible!! The pass was about 2900 meters above sea level but it was still so hot. We had a really long break, about 2.5 hours then we made our way down. I was really not used to do such long breaks 😉 The downhill was steep in the beginning with endless switchbacks. I took the lead and had to wait for my brother to catchup. He was super slow and I was concerned we won’t make it all the way down on time. Due to Peter’s poorly knees we decided to call it a day and camped at a convenient spot. There was a fountain with little water enough to fill the bottles for dinner. Also there was cow poop on the ground. We set up our rainfly to get out of the sun and chilled in there the rest of the afternoon. We had the perfect view from tent to a glacier, mountains and concerned about the cows however luckily didn’t bother us.
Day 24 – La Sage to Arolla
We woke up and could hear the cowbells. As we looked outside they were going in our direction. I think we never packed as fast in the morning as we did this day. After we packed everything we had breakfast and walked down to La Sage. Yesterday we checked our options with the bus and we actually got it. I know from last year that the trail isn’t anything special to Les Hauderes, so I didn’t mind to take the bus. When we arrived there, we went straight to the grocery store and the outfitter. I borrowed my hiking poles to my brother, because he didn’t take his with him. Also we ate most of our food and had to resupply. For special occasion we bought also chips. We had an easy day today 🙂 The plan was to hike to Arolla, which was only about 2 hours away. As we started it was around midday and super hot and of course the trail went uphill in the sun. Our lunch spot was close to the river and in the shade. Peter carried a small bottle of red wine, as it was already the second day we finally drank it. Wine for lunch why not, right! It was the beginning of a day we had a lot of alcohol (for a hiking day). I wasn’t always as happy that we were so slowly, but I enjoyed it. I had enough hard and long days and this was a nice change! As we went on the trail was nice flat and followed the river, where we also washed our hair. For the night we stayed at the campground. It was located underneath the village of Arolla. Before walking to the campground we had a beer in the pizzeria. After we set up our tent we showered and then walk again to pizzeria and ordered pizza. The restaurant was already full so we had take away. We bought some wine at the camping and enjoyed our meal. What a relaxing day (with lots of beer/wine)!
Day 25 – Grande Dixence to (above) Cabane de prafleuri
We decided to skip the next stage because the trail wasn’t as well maintained and the stage was also too long for Peter. So we took the bus to Grande Dixence in the morning. Grand Dixence is the biggest dam in whole switzerland and it’s really massiv. The height of the dam is about 285 meters! Also it is the world’s highest gravity dam and for sure worth to visit 🙂 At the bottom of the dam is a hotel and a exhibition about the history of it. It was really interesting to see and learn more about they build it in the 1950s. Then we took the cable car up to the crest of the dam. We actually wanted to take the zipline across the dam but sadly it was already sold out for the day… I guess, next time! After walking along the crest we had lunch. Then we finally started walking towards the cabane de prafleuri. It was a nice hike but also kinda mean. Firstly it went down and then all up again haha. At the cabine we weren’t sure what to do! I was pissed that we didn’t walk as much as I thought and Peter was also not sure if he can do this any longer. We agreed that we split tomorrow’s stage in two days and went for a beer up to the hut. After that we hiked about a half a hour further till we had a nice spot for the tent. We had dinner, pitched our tent and enjoyed the nice view to the mountains. Ah and we had a little portrait photo shooting 🙂
Day 26 – (above) Cabane de Prafleuri to Grand Desert
The sun hit us that day very early and we had breakfast outside! We didn’t had a hurry, so we left camp at about 9.15am. The trail was leading up to the pass, which took us a hour. 10 min into the day we met a trail runner who forgot his sunscreen at home so we gave him some of ours. He was running a huge loop when I looked afterwards at the map (these trail runners are just crazy)! From the pass you had an amazing view to other side, it had a few lakes and was looking very rocky! We met another guy up there, and we chatted a bit. He was a teacher and was for a few days in the area. Peter and I chilled up there for a while, he was reading and I took a nap. When more people arrived we made our way further. It took us a while to get down, because there was no trail just boulders to scramble. The flat bit was partly covered in snow and the trail went uphill for a bit again. There were some risky snowfields to pass, but we made it safely! At one of the lakes we made our lunch break. It was really warm but the lake was still too cold to dip in. Just when we wanted to finally leave and make the final push for the day a friend of Peter walked by! What a coincidence to meet a friend in somewhere of nowhere 😀 We went down to another small lake and pitched our tent there! It was afternoon so we decided we could take a short dip in the lake. I can tell you, it was super cold and I stayed only for a second inside… Nobody was around so we went in naked 🙂 The place we’ve been was kind of a high plateau on 2700 meters above sea level! After dinner something very special happened. We walked to see if there’s reception, when we came back to the tent about 25 ibex were standing across the lake!! They came in our direction and ate every little grass piece they could found. I’ve never seen so many ibex at one place and not this close. I hurried to the tent to get my camera and started to take pictures. It was simply amazing and stunning to see those animals so close. They didn’t care about us at all! My brother was afraid and wanted to get the poles. In that moment two of the ibex started a fight right in front of us… woww! The whole herd went by us and we watched after them till they were over the next hill 🙂 I think it was the best evening of the whole trip!
DAy 27 – Grand desert to Fionnay
I couldn’t really fall asleep, because I was worried about the ibex haha. In the morning we slept longer than planned and started hiking around 9.30am. I wasn’t in the best mood because of that. It’s just not my personal style to start hiking at 9.30am xD. We didn’t had much food left so the plan was to eat lunch at the Cabane de Louvie. The first hour we walked up to the pass. On the way up there we saw our friends, the ibex, again! The trail was rocky and partly covered in snow. As we got up there we could see Mont Blanc again and the Grand Combine massive with his stunning glacier!! We had the best weather you can imagine, it was the fifth day with blue sky and sunshine 😀 After the pass the trail got even shittier. We had to cross a field with boulders and that took his time… You gotta be careful to traverse these because it’s easy to make a wrong step! In general the way down to the hut felt endless, it went on and on. The last bit was going steep downhill with little switchbacks. Next to the hut was this turquoise colored lake, which looked from above just amazing! You could see the lake from far above and it took us for sure more than a hour to get to it. When we arrived at the hut it was about 1.30pm. They had a big buffet of Salad and potato gratin, yuuuuummii. I was so hungry and ate a lot! We also had pie and coffee. There was no reception at the hut so we ask the lady of the hut when the bus is leaving. Because I really had to resupply and get fuel. It was a Sunday and the shops are closed almost everywhere. So we had to go all the way to Verbier, which is a famous place in Valais and lots of tourists are there. We hurried down to Fionnay to get the bus and my knees were done after it! 700 meters downhill in 1h10min… Luckily we made it to the bus otherwise we had to wait for 2 hours (because we’re in middle of nowhere). I was doing my resupply and also bought dinner for us. For my brother it was the last evening, before he went home the day after. Everything was going well, beside that I didn’t find gas at any shop… I was going mad, because I need it for cooking dinner. We had to leave and get to the camping for the night with the bus, so we left without any fuel. Finally at the camping we set up the tent and had a little argument. As the girl from the camping came I asked her for fuel and you know what?! She had some!! It was a really small camping and we really didn’t expect it 🙂 I was so happy and my hot meals are saved!! We enjoyed our last evening together 🙂 I also washed my shirt because the smell was just unbearable.
Day 28 – Mauvoisin to Cabane Brunet
After saying Goodbye to my brother I took the bus to the Dam of Mauvoisin. As my brother left the perfect weather also left. In the morning were already some clouds on the sky. When I arrived there I had first breakfast and then started hiking. Firstly it was going uphill to the pass. I felt really good and was also happy to back at my pace 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, it was really nice having my brother with me! But I also like to be by myself 😉 Up on the pass there were still some snow patches. The geology on the pass itself was really interesting, there were two totally different rock layers. I sent some messages and then went on to the hut. As I descended it started to rain so I packed my camera in my pack quickly. The descent was really steep and I hurried to the hut! I drank a coffee in there and waited for the rain to stop. Luckily it was just a short rain and I continued walking. It was already lunchtime and I was hungry so I stopped. After it went over a really long and cool suspension bridge which is made by a famous Swiss bridge builder. Toni Rüttimann is building bridges all over the world to help people. He is using old cable car ropes for building them and the bridges are always for free. The weather wasn’t as good and soon after the bridge it started to rain again. My actual plan was to hike all the way to Cabane de Mille. But as the rain started I only made my way to the Cabane Brunet. It took me about a hour to get there and luckily it didn’t rain the whole. When I arrived there you could hear loud music and I had no clue what’s going on! I had pie and coffee there and asked if I can stay the night there. From the guys sitting with me on the table I got to know that there’s a music festival going on. I was happy to stay there, because the weather was still bad. I had a nice dinner and chatted afterwards with two other women, who made vacation up there. We sat outside and watched the lightning show in the sky! I was really tired and went to bed early.
Hell yeah, already three weeks on trail! This trail feels like a rollercoaster, not only because of the many up and downs also with my emotions. But more of that you will read down below!
Day 15 – Ulrichen to Ausserbinn
I had a good night and slept like a baby. Uhm no, this was of course not the case! I woke up at midnight as I noticed that my nose is bleeding. Great, nosebleeding attack in the middle of the night. So I ran to the bathroom and stayed there till it was fine again. For safety I rolled some toiletpaper and put it in the nose. In the morning I took it out and started hiking. I was looking forward to a mostly flat trail, but this also wasn’t the case. It had little ups and downs all the time and that made it exhausting. It was nice though, that the trail was mostly in the forest! Around lunchtime I was already at the end of today’s stage and so I hiked on. I had a nice lunchspot at a old barn. There I also phoned with my brother, who’s maybe joining me for some days! It got super windy and so I went on. The trail was on a road to the next village. In Ernen I got super lucky, the supermarket was open (on a Sunday!). Normally all shops are closed! I bought some grapes and Rivella (THE swiss drink) and had a break in the shade. The wind was still going and so I made my way up to Ausserbinn. There I looked out for a campspot and found one next to a dirtroad. I cooked dinner and waited till 7pm to set up my tent. This is my strategy: look for a place, wait till 7-7.30pm and then set up the tent 🙂
Day 16 – Ausserbinn to Bortelhütte
In the woods there are always so many noises and I couldn’t sleep so well. I packed my stuff and had breakfast. When I started hiking I called my dad to say happy birthday! Soon after I walked into the twingi gorge and there was a land art exhibition – so cool! There were some cool stuff and I really enjoyed walking through the gorge. I ended up in Binn and then the big climb started. It was a hot and sunny day, so I sweated already in the morning. The trail was partly following a dirtroad in the beginning. I took a break and lots of people went by and I was really surprised. It was really warm and the trail went steep uphill. I felt pretty good and past all people again haha 😉 Short before the pass my tummy started to rumble so I had lunch and a short nap. I walked the last bit to the pass and wow, the view was just incredible <3 You could see lots of high mountains (4000meter and higher) I stood there for a bit enjoying the view and taking pictures. Then I went down to the restaurant where I had a big portion of fries 🙂 yummi!! It was only 3pm so I hiked on. I made a short stop at a stream to wash my feet and my socks. After there a really nice trail and quite exposed! I really liked it! My plan was to camp and I already saw a good place on the map. But when I got there, there were sheep and it was super windy… I wasn‘t sure what to do and hiked on a bit. Desperate sitting on a maybe campsite I called the hut which was really close. I got super lucky and got the last spot! Now in Coronatime the huts are only half of the normal amount of people. I had a beer there and I met the german hiker again! We had a nice evening together. As I was at the hut I noticed that I left my socks at the stream… Well, now I got only one pair of socks!
Day 17 – Bortelhütte to Simplonpass
I didn‘t order dinner at the hut, so I was even more hungry at breakfast! They had a really nice breakfast 🙂 Today was a really short day. I only walked about 3.5 hours 🙂 The german guy walked in front of me and I was a bit behind him. On the way I past three german/belgian guys. I took a shortcut to get in front of Lennard (german hiker). Weirdly I didn‘t see him again after that. He must have taken a wrong turn, because he was normally as fast as I. The trail went down to the pass road. You walked above the cartunnel which was really funny. Soon after you were already at the top of the pass. I walked to the hospiz where I reserved a bed for tonight. I sat outside for more than a hour, I wasn‘t sure if I should walk further or not! And I felt somehow super lonely and just hated the trail. I cried for a bit and then decided to just stay here! And it was a good decision 🙂 the lady at the bar showed me the room. I took a shower and washed some clothes in the sink. The weather was still really sunny, so I sat on the stairs outside messaging some friends. The three guys apeared and we went over the road to have coffee. They were really nice, I sat to them and we chatted. This was what I needed the most then, company! Later in the afternoon it rained and I was happy to be inside and not somewhere camping. I had lots of time to finally write my blog! It really needs a lot of time to do it…
Day 18 – Simplonpass to Finilu (Gspon)
So the Simplonpass hospiz is lead by monks and the building is pretty old. The breakfast was modest like monks are. In the morning there was fog on the pass. As I started hiking it was already gone and the views were nice. I hiked about 1.5 hours up to the pass. Along the way I met a couple that I actually have seen already twice or so. They are also hiking the Alpine Pass Trail! Finally I meet some other people 🙂 later in the day I got to know that they slept in our B&B at home! After the pass the trail went on the same height for most of the day. It was a big valley that you went all the way to the back and then on the other side to the front again. I met another couple along the way, we actually sat on the same table last night. I took a break at the back of the valley. The trail was so nice and flat and I had a good pace! The views to the mountains opposite the valley were absolutely gorgeous!! Lunch I had at a small lake. I walked the last bit to Gspon, where the stage ended. But there was no place to camp so I hiked on. About a hour later I found the perfect spot! It was next to a little chapel and in opposite high mountains and glacier! In the evening some local people came up to the church. I was already worried, that they might not lik that I‘m canping here. It was right the opposite! They were so friendly and nice! The old lady even invited me for coffee in the morning. I declined because I leave early in the morning. I enjoyed the sunset and went to bed early! It was a big day 🙂
Day 19 – Finilu (Gspon) to Saas-Fee
It was a short day of hiking! I left the nice spot around 8am. The trail was going through the forest. In the beginning the were some dangerous rockfall areas to cross. I was nervous, but I made it. I walked by a house and a cute young dog was barking at me. The woman apologized for it, the dog was so cute it didn‘t bother me. After a hour walking I came by a little alphut. I was already past the hut, the owner came out and asked me if I want a coffee. I said yes and so we sat together drinking coffee. He was looking to the sheep and is up there in the hut all summer long. Not a bad place to work! I gave him my last coins for the coffe, but he just said let‘s meet in Rosswald in wintertime for snowshoeing. Haha let‘s see 🙂 I was amazing by the nice people I met today and also yesterday. The trail to Saas Grund took longer than I thought! I was around midday down there and it was really hot. To Saas-Fee there was a last climb which I had to do. I wanted to be there so I went up there in the midday heat.. The hostel I booked was just when I came up! Perfect! I checked in, took a shower and went grociery shopping. As I was shopping it happened.. I had a really bad nosebleed! Everything was covered with blood, because I didn‘t have a tissue. I ended up in the bathroom for about half a hour till it stopped and I cleaned my shirt and myself! This wasn‘t how I planned my shopping. After that I went to a coffeeshop and treated myself with a piece of cake and a caramel machiatto 🙂 Back in the hostel I went to the spa, which I booked extra and was really looking forward to it! Everything went good in the spa, but I went also to the pool. Like normally I put my head under water, but that wasn‘t good for my nosebleeding. It started all over again.. great! In the evening I wanted to go out for dinner, but ended up drinking a large beer because I didn‘t get a table. Before bed I brought my laundry to the reception, in my towel (haha). I was glad that I could finally wash everything. In my room there were two woman who were climbing a high mountain the next day. I was really impressed. That‘s my dream to climb a high mountain here in switzerland, like with glacier and everything!
Day 20 – Saas-Fee to Grächen
First thing in the morning was to get my laundry. I packed everything and then went to the breakfast buffet. It was really nice and I was longer at breakfast than I wanted. Today was a quite exposed walk and I was nervous about it. I started hiking around 8.30am. The trail was first going uphill in the forest. It was sunny and warm already in the morning. Today I will walk the whole valley along the side till the front. Less than a hour in the day I met the couple from the day before. We chatted and I told them that I maybe stay close to them. Soon after there the first big gravelfield to cross. I took a break before and ate some snacks. The danger of rockfall is high in such areas and there were also warning signs. I tried to stay calm and made my way through. It was a big relieve that it went all good. The shock from the nearly hit is still in my bones.. I was walking by myself because the couple kinda stopped. So I went on and it was fine. There were some risky sections. I had lunch on a nice bog boulder in the shade in a side valley. It was kinda the perfect spot to do that. After it became again exposed. Shortly after lunch I saw a female ibex really close. She wans’t shy at all and ate the flowers while I was taking photos! Really cool! The trail went on and on. I was getting tired from all the constant concentration. Scary thing was also there were some memorials of people who died on that stretch. I was coming to a restaurant where I had a big coke! I was happy and also proud of myself to have faced my fear! The couple just came when I was about to leave. I walked down to Grächen, where I had a large beer. I heard from friend that on the next stage there are guardian gods. So I’m going to walk another route. Because of that I took the bus down to St. Niklaus and then the train to Kalpetran. I camped next to the river 🙂
Day 21 – Schalb to Gruben
I packed everything and had breakfast. Then I walked to the station for the gondola. My plan was to take two gondolas up the mountain to save me some time and lots of elevation gain! Down at the station was noone, so you had to call and wait for the insturctions. It was a really small gondola. Up there I paid for both rides and went to the other station. This one was really cool, it was open! As he gave me the okay I got in. I forgot to close the little door and did that while gling up. It was really adventurous and I just loved it!! Up there were three other hiker who did the same route as I. I met them a few times along the way. The trail was going uphill through the forest. Above treeline there was the herd of sheep. I walked around them, because I didn’t want to get in touch with the guardian dogs. They are very protective and can be aggressive if you get to close to the herd. I saw them sitting just as I past all sheep. Before the last clim up to the pass I had a little break. On the pass the other group took photos and I actually got one of me! The weather forecast wasn’t as good today and it was right. The clouds were starting to cover the sky. I had after the pass another short break. Then I made my way down to Gruben. In the only Restaurant and Hotel I had coffee and icecream. I was really surprised when I checked my phone for reception, there was none! So I was using the wifi of the hotel to check the weather and so on. I wasn’t sure if I should camp or not. After sitting long time in the restaurant I choose to check in to the hotel. I had a nice shower and time to write my blog!
After 3 rest days at home I started the trail again in Ilanz! I needed this break more emotionally than phisically. I also came home to get my hiking boots.
Day 7 – Ilanz to Lumbrein
I took the train to Ilanz at 9am, which is a really nice ride through the gorge of the rhein river! It was a warm day and the ascent was steep in the beginning. In Morissen you had the first view of the Valley Lumnezia. It means actually the Valley of Light 🙂 The walk was most of the day on roads and always up and down. Around midday I could already feel my heels in my boots! Shit, I was already getting blisters… I had to take more breaks than normal, because of my feet. In the afternoon I decided to go home again to get my other shoes. Otherwise I couldn‘t walk the next day and this would be really annoying. So I took the bus/train home. Luckily home isn‘t too far away and public transport is just amazing here! Almost everywhere you got a bus or train stop!!
Day 8 – Vrin to Terrihut
After again a night at home I took the train and bus to Vrin. I skipped the section from Lumbrein to Vrin, because it‘s mostly on the road anyways. So I arrived in Vrin pretty late (about 10.30am) and started hiking towards the Greina plateau. It followed first the road and then switched to a hiking trail. While I was walking uphill to the pass it was really warm. It was a sunday and lots of people where on trail. I was bouncing around with a lot of people. I didn‘t have to hurry because I knew I couldn‘t camp before 6pm and somewhere close to the terrihut. The Greina plateau is a nature reserve and it‘s not allowed to camp there. After the pass you could see for the first time the plateau, woooow! I had a longer break at the stream, which was nice to put in my feet. After all people left I also looked out for a campspot. I found the perfect spot next to a lake close to the terrihut. It was perfect because you couldn‘t see the hut from the tent.
Day 9 – Terrihut to Oncedo (Camperio)
I had a good night and started as usual around 8am hiking. The trail was leading past the hut and a bit uphill. On the highest point you had again a really beautiful view of the plateau. I met some other people and we chatted for a bit. Walking up to the greina pass was really nice! I took a break to enjoy the last good view down till I was on the pass. There was a interesting rockformation all in white in the middle of the valley. On the descent I walked by the Scalettahut, also a really nice hut. But I didn‘t want to stop again, so I hiked down to the valley. It was getting warmer and warmer as I went down to the valley. There was no shade and I hiked on and on. I ran out of water and was really happy to see the fountain close to Campo Blenio. I drank almost a liter straight away.. I met the guys I chatted with in the morning again. They were walking in front of me till they all stopped. I asked if everything was alright, one girl tripped and hurt her foot! I tried to help and gave her my hiking poles. I walked slowly with them for a while and then past them to Olivone. I went to the grociery store and bought a coke and icecream 🙂 I waited at the bus stop till the group came. Luckily she felt already better. I had a long break there and had a late lunch. I wasn‘t sure where to camp so I took the bus a bit further up. When I hit the trail there was a sign that they are cutting wood and the trail is partly closed. Great! Still I managed to get a nice spot on a meadow close to the forest. I cooked and went to bed early, it was a really long day. But it wasn‘t enough.. At 10pm I woke up because my whole tent was bright right after thunder! I was scared as fuck!! I immediatly put on my rainjacket and ran out of my tent to the next tree. In panic mode I called at home in a mix of crying and yelling what I should do. It was raining heavily and I got wet also under the tree. I was standing there (like 45min) and waited till the thunderstorm went by. I had a hard time falling asleep again after this happened..
Day 10 – Oncedo (Camperio) to Acquacalda
I was still pretty shocked what happened in the night. In the morning it was perfect weather! I had to walk on the road because of the forest work. I didn’t mind it and the views were great! It was already warm in the morning and my water empty because of cooking in the evening and breakfast. So at Dötra, a little village I was happy to see a fountain. The trail was still following a gravel road up to the pass. From there you could already see Acquacalda down in the valley. My plan was actually to walk further over another pass and camp somewhere. But the weather didn’t look good. The clouds were clearing the sky. When I was in Acquacalda I wasn’t sure what to do. It looked like it could rain in a minute. So I drank there a cafe and tried to decide. For sure I didn’t want to get in a thunderstorm again! Once was enough!! I decided not to walk further and took the bus to Piotta. Tomorrow was my birthday and I was meeting a friend above Piotta. The busride was long. I took the funicular railway up to Piora and walked to the Lake Ritom. I booked a room in the restaurant up there.
Day 11 – Zeroday at Lago Ritom
I washed my shirt in the sink the night before and it was still a bit damp when I put it on in the morning. The breakfast was a little bit disappointing, but I got a large coffee! After breakfast I left my backpack at the restaurant and walked around the lake. My friend was coming about lunchtime, so I still had some time. Firstly I thought she arrives earlier and I hurried to be there on time. I got only reception at the front of the lake. Then I saw that she just missed the funicular railway and the next was going in a hour.. So I made some calls and tried to kill time (I was really impatient that morning). I was really happy when my friend Luana finally arrived! We walked a bit uphill and had picnic there. She bought sooo much food.. A hour later my mom also arrived and we made our way up to the hut, which I reserved for the night. To the hut it was about a hour walk all uphill 😉 It was a small and very steep trail and above us were dark clouds. I was a bit worried about the weather. The hut was right under a mountain top and the trail was therefore pretty exposed. So I hurried up there, left my pack and ran down to get my friends pack. She was already struggling enough before! And we made it before the rain 🙂 First things first, so we drank moscato! We had a great evening up there, making spaghetti and drinking wine and playing cards. It was a great birthday and it was really nice to have company! I miss that!
Day 12 – Airolo to Passo San Gottardo
On this day I didn’t hike on the Alpine Pass Trail. I decided to hike with my mom up to the Gotthardpass and stay the night there. I’m not a purist so it didn’t matter to me if it was another trail. Luana drove us to Airolo and we started around midday the ascent – great timing! We had a longer break, because we met a woman who’s hiking the number 2 (Trans Swiss Trail). I was pretty grumpy afterwards, because it was hot and steep and were still kinda in the valley. Bu se made it up there anyway 🙂 We walked next to the famous Tremola road, which is the old pass road which many many switchbacks. Also special is that the road is paved with little stones! We got lucky and got a nice double room for the two of us. It also had paintings on the ceiling 🙂 We treated ourselves with a three course meal and some wine (out of a jug, only in ticino).
Day 13 – Passo San Gottardo to Cruina (Nufenenpass)
Instead of going back to Airolo, I decided to hike from here further. The trail was anyway meeting again with the Alpine Pass Trail. I was just on the other side of the valley 😉 We had a really nice breakfast buffet and I ate a lot.. (hikerhunger is a thing). The weather forecast was rain for lunchtime. So I tried to hike fast, but it didn’t work out and I got rained on already a hour in! The trail was on a gravel road, which was kinda nice because of the rain. I was really fast also because it was almost flat or even slightly downhill. After 3.5 hours, two hours in the rain I reached the Piansecco hut. I tried to dry my stuff on the heating and ordered coffee and cake. It was also raining outside and I was glad to be inside. After about 2.5 hours there the weather looked better and I spontaneously decidied to hike on. It turned out to be not the greatest decision.. I hiked about a hour to the road which leads up to the nufenenpass. Dark clouds covered the sky and I wasn’t sure (again) what to do! I still was thinking about that night with thunderstorm.. I ended up taking the bus to Ulrichen and got a hotel room, which was kinda expensive. Of course the weather was better in the evening than expected! I was annoyed and just in a bad mood. I called some friends which was really nice!! Thanks again for cheering me up 🙂
Day 14 – Ulrichen to Cruina
I decided to hike the part that I skipped yesterday in the other direction. After a nice breakfast in the hotel I started hiking up towards the Cornopass. The walk started in the forest which was nice and cool. It was a warm day. I walked also over a little suspension bridge and then close to the road. Before it got steep I took a break. I was slowly walking uphill as it was really warm. The trail looked new and soon I was up by the wind turbines. It was kinda surreal having there huge wind turbines up there on the pass. There were also these cute sheep and the incredible view of a glacier! And you could see over into Italy 🙂 I took a short break to enjoy the view. Behind a building there was sitting an eldery man who painted the whole scenery, sooo cool! Shortly after, I met a german hiker, the first Alpine Pass Trail hiker!! We chatted a bit and both of hiked on. I had a long lunch break after the pass. The trail was really crowded that day. Then I walked down to the Capanna Corno Gries and had a coffee there. I had lots of time because my bus back to Ulrichen was at 4pm. So I chilled at the hut and enjoyed the nice view. The walk down to the road and bus stop was short. Back down in Ulrichen I dedcided to stay at the campground. First I planned to hike on and camp somewhere. But it was really nice at the campground. I bought a beer and a bag of chips and phoned with a friend!
So fast and another week on trail went by! Crazy I’m already two weeks on trail.. time flies out here! Stay tuned for Week 3
After almost a week at home mostly eating and sleeping the trail was calling. My mom decided spontaneously to join me for the first 2 days! We took the train back to Montreux and then the ship across Lake Geneva to St. Gingolph, the startpoint of the Alpine Pass Trail. We left the ship at Le Bouveret, a little nice town, where we got one of the last spots on the campground! After we set up our tent we went, of course, swimming in the lake. The lake was warm but the wind was chilly. In the evening we went out for dinner. I had mussels, which I normally eat when I’m at the sea (it also felt kinda like that). Tired of the journey we went to bed early, also because we planned an early start.
Day 1 – St. Gingolph to Taney
Our alarm went off at 6.10am. We packed our stuff as quiet as possible and went to the train station. The train took us to St. Gingolph, which is right at the french border! We looked out for an official startpoint unsuccessfully. A little bit grumpy we ate breakfast and set off! The first bit of the trail was quite steep after that it followed the road for a while (not again!). We made a break at an Alp, where we had coffee and bought some fresh cheese 🙂 they had donkeys (one of them ate almost the flowers), goats, pigs, cows and two dogs (really cute ones!). It was a hot day and it was good that we started early! At the first Col (Pass) we had lunch. Actually we wanted to camp at the lake below but guess what, there were cows… So we hiked on all the way to Taney. We went off trail and uphill to a place, where we thought we could camp. But it turned out as an Alp, so more cows 🥵. In Taney there is a ban to camp, which I didn’t know before. After a beer at a restaurant we got a tip where to camp. Our strategy was swimming in the Lake of Taney, eating there and then look for a spot. All I can say it was a good strategy!
Day 2 – Taney to Chalet Neuf (Morgins)
It was a quiet night and I slept really well. We packed our stuff and walked till we a nice and sunny place for breakfast. The trail was leading steep downhill to a little town and the trail was gravelly. So you had to be careful not to fall. Then it followed a gravel road for a bit. Short after the trail changed and I was really surprised, because I thought it would go the whole day on roads. There were chaines to held on and ladders, all the stuff that I waited for on the Via Alpina but never really came! We stopped for coffee in Torgon. The owner Myriam was really nice and chatty (my mom is also very chatty!). After a longer break than planned we hiked on. Most parts was on a gravel road. The search for a campspot was kind of difficult. There were great flat spots, but within the fence. The cows weren’t there then but you never know if they will come again or not. After a few “maybe campspots” we walked to a House. It was a restaurant, but closed and no cows! Yay, so we set up our tent on the parking lot. Somewhere there was a swamp, because the mosquitos killed us that evening! I also recorded a voice message for a short radio interview – pretty cool, right!
day 3 – Chalet Neuf (Morgins) to Barme
As usual we packet our stuff and then had breakfast. We started walking on the road for a bit, because there were cows with their little babies and we didn’t want to go through them. The view up on the crest was stunning!! You had Dent du Midi (that’s a mountain) right in front of you. We made our way down to the town of Morgins, where we went straight to a bakery to drink coffee. My mom was leaving there. I did some grocery shopping and called the place in Barme if I could sleep there. Funny thing is, english mostly works better than german. It is kinda weird to speak english in our own country, because I can’t speak french (just a little bit). That’s a thing here, because Switzerland has 4 languages! The trail out of Morgins was leading through the forest next to a stream. It was a really nice walk 🙂 After saying Goodbye to my mom I set off by myself. It was really nice having her with me! I like having company while hiking so as I like to hike by myself. The trail went by a restaurant and followed then the road uphill to the Port du Soleil. As I came up there dark clouds covered the sky. I speeded up because I really didn’t want to get wet. I changed to my rain jacket and packed my camera away. Luckily it rained only for a short time! The trail was on a road and pretty flat, so I was hiking fast. Maybe after a hour suddenly the clouds disappeared and the sun was shining again. I had to walk along a few cowherds with calves. I have great respect for these animals, because they can be very protective of their calves (and people got killed). I walked up to the Col de Cou, this is a Pass right on the french border! So I was in france hihihi, for about 2 minutes.. It was sooo windy up there, that I walked further and had lunch on a calmer place. The last bit of the trail to Barme was on a ridge! And I LOVE ridge walks!!! I was early at the Cantine Dents Blanches, my place for the night, so I had plenty time to shower and call my sister. I treated myself with half pension and had a super delicious dinner 🙂 I didn’t sleep very much, because there was a group having a party…
Day 4 – Zeroday in barme
As I woke up and looked out of the window you could only see clouds. It was cold and the mountains were all covered in clouds. I thought I’ll wait till they clear and then start hiking. But they didn’t really clear till the afternoon, so I asked if I can stay another night there. The next stage was supposed to be really beautiful and I really didn’t want to hike in cold and miserable weather and I got time! So I had a really relaxing day 🙂 I slept after breakfast a few more hours, because I couldn’t sleep in the night. Lunch I had at a bench close to a big rock wall, where are multiple climbing routes. There I also listened to my short radio interview! I felt pretty cool to be in the radio 🙂 Also a friend of mine, Christina Ragettli was on the radio. She is doing the red via alpina, which is super tough! You should check out her weekly blog at wildmountainheart.ch! Zerodays are mostly for eating and sleeping and so was also this one! I phoned with some friends and in the evening I had again delicious food! In the night I slept even less than the night before. The party downstairs (right underneath me) was going till 3am…
day 5 – Barme to lac de salanfe
As soon as I walked out of the door I knew the day waiting here was really worth it! It was sunny and you could see all the surrounding impressive mountains! I had a nice breakfast and start hiking at about 8.15am. It was a Sunday so there were lots of people on the trail hiking. This part of the Alpina Pass Trail is also part of the Tour de Dent du Midi, which is a 3 day hike around Dent du Midi. So far, I haven’t seen any other hiker who does the Alpine Pass Trail like me. The trail uphill was quite exposed and sometimes you had to scramble, it also had chains to hold on. I stopped at the mountain hut, where I filled up my water bottle and ordered a homemade sirup. The Pass was about a hour away so I kept hiking. Up there you had an incredible view of the high mountains of Valais like the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, Dufourspitze (highest mountain in Switzerland) and lots more! I had lunch close to the pass with this amazing view 🙂 From the pass you could also see the Lake Salanfe, which was my goal for today. The hike down was longer than I thought. I walked to the end of the lake and looked out for a nice camp spot. I found a nice one with a nice flat rock next to it to sit on. It was windy when I set up my tent and I had to stake it out so it didn’t fly away.. usually I only stake out the rainfly. I had ramenbomb (ramen and mashed potatoes) for dinner, yummi! Some people hate it, some love it 😉
day 6 – lac de salanfe to le chatelard
What a day! I didn’t hear my alarm, so I slept in. I started hiking at about 8am. Yesterday I saw already the pass which I have to go over today. It’s still covered with snow and I was a bit concerned. So I made my way up to the pass, the trail was steep and kinda going straight uphill instead of zigzag. I arrived at the snow about a hour later and put my microspikes on. With them it was no problem, the snow was still pretty hard and soon I was standing at the top of the pass. It was the first pass of today, from here I could see the next one for today. The second pass had also some snowfields but it didn’t look too bad. I went down to the Valley and had a break there. It was a steep climb in the beginning of the second pass. Then I had to cross a risky stream right under a massive snowfield. It was already around midday and the stream was big. I managed to get across it, though I got a little wet on my shoes. An elderly man passed me and we talked a bit. He was super fast and I couldn’t hold up his pace. The trail was super steep going uphill on a screefield. There was a group coming down from the trail, which were glissading on the snow down. I put my microspikes on to cross another, really sloped, snowfield. I was struggling with my altras and microspikes. As I walked slowly uphill I heard something from above. As I turned around to look up, there was a falling rock as big as my head whizzed down really fucking close to me!!! In shock I screamed loudly and was super terrified! I was hurrying the pass uphill and looked like every two seconds to the rock wall on my right! There were some more snowfields to cross which slowed me down, also because it was super windy. Relieved on the pass I just wanted to get down and preferably immediately go home. I made a break when I was out of the dangerous zone. I still didn’t realize what just happened. I walked to the lake l’emosson which is a touristy spot. It’s right on the french border and you got fantastic views to Mont Blanc, when the weather is nice. When I was there the clouds covered the mountains. I had a big soup there and charged my phone. I wanted to call my mom, but I hadn’t any cell service. As I walked down I saw a cog railway station. As I was really tired of today I took the it down to the valley. There I could finally call my mom and tell her what happened. The emotions hit me and I burst into tears. Then I really realized it, that this rock could have killed me… I wasn’t sure if I should continue or go home and walk the other direction. I set up my tent right next to the trail in the forest close to the road.
day 7 – le chatelard to home
The decision was made! I didn’t want to risk more and decided to go home after that terrible day of yesterday. It was just too much for me.. Parts of me were happy to go home but parts of me were also sad to leave the trail here. Allover I think it was the better decision! Somehow it felt like I’m quitting, but would you go on after something like that? I say: better safe than sorry. It is also an advantage to have home so close and why not use it. Hike your own hike, right? I’m planning to hike on as soon as the weather is better, which means probably after 3 days at home.
This trail is not getting rid of me so easily, because I am Tinkle and I don’t give up so easily!
What a ride! I can’t believe how fast the second half went over. There have been some highs and lows, which is totally normal, but let’s come to that later. In general, the Via Alpina was a great adventure. Hiking through my home country showed the beauty of it and also made me realized how different thruhiking is in Switzerland than in the states. I am genuinely grateful, that I was able to do this hike! I hiked through areas I’ve never been before and was amazed by the beauty. I appreciate this opportunity to explore my home country Switzerland! There’s always something positive, you just have to see it 🙂
Day 10 – Zero day in grindelwald
After 9 days of hiking I was happy to take a zero day (that’s what you call a rest day, zero km). My parents visited me and together we ride up to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe! It’s one of the tourist hotspot in whole Switzerland. Usually, people from the whole world (and mostly asians) visit this place, because it’s just so special. As I walked the day before down to Grindelwald, I could understand why people come here. The scenery is just so unique and very impressive! These huge Mountains protrude just out of nowhere and you got this massive wall of Granit in front of you. When we took the train up to Kleine Scheidegg we were surprised of how many people there’ve been. Luckily, we reserve our seats for the train up to Jungfraujoch. My dad and I got super lucky, the driver invited us two to sit in front with him, which was so freaking cool!
I really enjoyed the day with my parents and the sightseeing that we did! Sometimes up there I felt like in Disneyland and it was a bit too much. But I guess, it’s a once in a lifetime thing, so it was fine for that. It made me also realize how different it is to hike up a mountain or to ride a train up a mountain – totally different feeling of accomplishment.
What I forgot to write in the first post of the Via Alpina, I lost my hiking pass on Day 7 short before Surenenpass! I was really annoying and relieved at the same moment, because it was sometimes a struggle to find that stamp box in a town.. On the other side I thought it’s a sign that I shouldn’t do it. So I was like okay, fuck it 😉 So I’m telling this y’all, because when we sat in a restaurant at Kleine Scheidegg somebody texted me on FB that they found my hiking pass! Ohh man, I really didn’t thought anybody would actually take it with them and they also stamped it for me! So kind of them, thanks again Max and Vera! They also walk the whole trail and will continue to stamp it for me 🙂
Day 11 – Mürren to gspaltenhornhütte
I had breakfast in the youth hostel we stayed in. I decided to take the train and gondola up to Mürren. Some people will call it cheating (it technically is), but I didn’t wanted to hike next to the train up a mountain. That’s just not fun and really unthankful in my opinion. There are a few reason why choose to take the train instead of hiking. Let me explain it 🙂 First of all I’m not a purist. For me it’s okay to hike not every step, if it isn’t enjoyable. It is about the smiles, not the miles. Right? Secondly, I had a daypass for the train. So why not using it instead of not enjoying the hike. But most importantly I took the train, because I wanted to meet up with some hiking friends in the Gspaltenhorn hut!
I arrived at about 11am at Mürren and started my hike in direction to the Sefinenfurgga (that’s the pass). The hike was really nice, perfect views to Jungfrau, which was right opposite of where I was. They trail was leading by the Rotstock hut, I had a late lunch a bit above the hut. I got from the hostel a lunch package, so I ate that. After the break the trail got a little steeper and the last bit to the pass was covered in snow. It was quite steep and I was happy I got my microspikes (my parents brought them). I didn’t needed them, because the passes before weren’t that high. On top somebody took a picture of me! The actual Via Alpina went down to Griesalp, but I took the way to the hut. It was still pretty covered in snow, so I had to cross a few snowfield. It was already afternoon when I was up there and the weather was about to change soon. I still had 1.5 hours to the Gspalterhorn hut. I was hiking slow, because of the many snowfields. There were some risky parts, so I took my time. At the Hut, Helen welcomed me with a hug! We had a lovely evening together, talking and sharing stories to each other. Helen and Malcolm are doing the same hikes as I do just in the other direction. So we will see each other a second time somewhere on the alpine pass trail. They are really nice people and it’s always great to see them!
day 12 – Gspaltenhornhütte to kandersteg
In the night it was raining and even hailing I think. Breakfast was early and I started hiking around 7.15am. After a short Goodbye to Helen and Malcolm, I set off. I took the trail down to the glacier, which Helen and Malcolm recommended to me and it was really cool. There wasn’t actually any glacier left instead there was a gorge you crossed over a bridge. On the other side it was going up super steep to the Hohtürli pass. Oh dear, it was really steep and I was hiking really slow. There were some snowfields to cross and the last bit there were stairs. Up on the pass I was exhausted! I walked up a few more steps to the hut, where you had an amazing view!! I sat there and had a break. I also met another hiker and we chatted a bit. After the break it went all downhill to the famous Lake Oeschinen. Short before the lake I took the highroute and not the actual Via Alpina. The trail followed along the side on the same height and you had perfect views down to the lake! Down to Kandersteg I took the Gondola. There was a big thunderstorm coming and I really didn’t to get in it. Because of that, I also spontaneously decided to sleep in a hotel than camping somewhere. In the Hotel I had a whole dorm in the cellar for myself. I had Pizza and two beers for dinner! The thunderstorm didn’t stayed for long, so in the evening the sun was shining. But whatever, it was still nice to take a shower and sleeping in a bed 🙂
day 13 – Kandersteg to geils (adelboden)
I set off pretty late for my standards, because they didn’t serve breakfast before 8.00am. I asked them, if it was possible to get breakfast earlier and she said I could come around 7.45 (yay, 15min earlier). The trail was first leading up through a forest till an alp. There were cows with little babies. I know, that they can be very protective and you really shouldn’t approach them. But I still had to go through them… Everything went well till that one cow starred at me and walked straight towards me. Damn, I was terrified! I stopped for a moment and then made a curve around the cow. Luckily she didn’t follow me! I guess, the cow just wanted to show me who’s the boss on the field. After the cows the trail led up zigzag to another meadow. The views up there were incredible! You could see again Lake Oeschinen on the other side and the hut, which I came from yesterday. It was still some way up to the Pass. From the Pass you could already see the town of Adelboden. The weather was good that day, there were some clouds, but it was fine. As I was in Adelboden I went to a Bakery and treated myself with a dessert. I ate lunch on a bench on the pedestrian zone of Adelboden. Again I felt like the attraction of town.. I still don’t know, why people stare at a women with a backpack. It was about 3pm and I felt like I should keep going, so I did. The trail was mostly on a gravel road (as very often), which wasn’t that exciting. In Geils, a little town where more ski lifts than houses are, I wasn’t sure where to camp. I was desperate, so I asked a elderly couple if I could camp in their garden. They didn’t agree at all (and I felt embarrassed) so I kept going. Afterwords I ended up camping next to a ski hut. I had a little low point that evening. I was just annoying by everything: the cows, road walking, walking under the gondola, the struggle with camping, the weather, the civilization which is everywhere. I wasn’t sure if I really enjoyed it as much I thought I would. Good thing of civilization is there is reception, so I could text friend who lifted me up!
day 14 – geils to gstaad
On that day I walked 1.5 stages in one day, because once again the weather mixed up my plans. In the morning I hiked over the Hahnenmoospass and down to Lenk. Almost the whole trail was on gravel roads! Not very exciting.. At a restaurant I stopped for a coffee. The weather was still pretty good in the morning. In Lenk I hiked past the railway station, parts of me were tempted to just take the train home. But I’m not a quitter! After a short break in Lenk I set off to the Trütttlisbergpass. The trail went along a popular walk in a gorge, where a lot people were. The gorge was really nice! After that the trail went up on a gravel road in the forest. On the way uphill it started to rain and I was using that time to have lunch at a house’s bench. The houses can be a advantage when the weather is getting shitty! It didn’t rain for long so I went on. There were everywhere flowers, soo pretty! Just after the pass was this place where you had an incredible panorama and perfect camps spots! I immediately stopped and was like, I’m gonna camp here! I chilled there for about a half an hour and then checked the weather. The forecast for the night and the next morning was heavy rain… great! So I hiked down to Gstaad and stayed in the Youth Hostel. I didn’t want to camp in rain, if I don’t have to. Guess what, the trail down to Gstaad was also on a gravel road! I got mad about these gravel roads.. this is not how I imagined it! In the Hostel was also staying a swiss team of orienteering.
day 15 – gstaad to camping le cuizon (la Lecherette)
I slept really well that night and didn’t want to get up so early, because I knew it was supposed to rain. So I went for breakfast without packing my stuff before. I took the bus back to Gstaad and went to the grocery store to buy some food. I started hiking around 9.15am. The weather looked okay then, but about a hour later it was pouring rain down. I was in the middle of the climb out of Gstaad and went from tree to tree. On top there was a gondola station in construction. The workers looked very confusing at me, when they saw me walking in the rain. I was sitting out the rain under a roof at a restaurant’s terrace and had some nuts. When I was just about to leave another hiker appeared! She was also hiking the Via Alpina and on that day she was the only person (and the workers) that I saw on trail. The weather cleared up and I made my way up to the Trittlisattel, which was a really nice walk. It followed a ridge and the views were great. That’s how I imagined the Via Alpina! I imagined also the PNT could be like this. I had a great lunch spot with a good view over the valley. On the Pass it was super windy and I had to take of my hat. The pass was also the cantonal border from Bern and Vaud and from this point on people speak French. The trail was going down to L’Etivaz, which were just a few houses. I decided to do a short cut via Lake L’Hongrin. The actual trail would go to Chàteau-d’Oex and then back up to Rochers de Naye. I came to this abandoned village La Lecherette, where I really felt somewhere else than here in Switzerland. It was already 6.30pm when I was there, so I walked along the road to the campsite. There were only a few people on the campsite and nobody at the reception. I stayed there for free! The area I was hiking in was in a nature reserve and I really didn’t want to camp in there, because you shouldn’t. I had a relaxing evening 🙂
day 16 – Camping Le Cuizon – Rochers de naye
In the morning my tent was all wet from condensation and it was really chilly. It was my last full hiking day and what a day it was, the weather was just perfect – blue sky and sunshine! I could already see my goal for the day in the morning. It looked so far away, but within 5hours I was up there 🙂 I was hiking along the Lake L’Hongrin, which is a artificial lake and really beautiful. The Lake is shaped like a starfish. I really enjoyed walking along it, though it was on a road. But I was used to it and it was almost my last day. After the Lake it went uphill to the Mountain Rochers de Naye. When I came up on the rigde I could see Lake Geneva for the first time. I got a bit emotional, this is what I came for! I really made it to here 🙂 As I got higher and higher the views got more and more beautiful. It was a hot day and I was happy when there was sometimes some wind to cool down. Rochers de Naye is a touristic spot and there’s also a cog railway going up. So when I finally made it up there, so many people were up there. In my mind I said to all of them “Fuck off, you didn’t walk up here”. I didn’t mean it angry, but I was just a bit annoyed by so many tourists. You got up there with all your powers and they just ride up there.. it’s just not the same! It is just such an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you made it up there by foot!! I decided to stay up there in the Hotel/Restaurant for the night. It was such a great place and it was my last night on trail. This was the most perfect place and day to finish such a hike!!! I had hash browns and a big beer for lunch. As I was drinking my beer the girl from yesterday showed up and we chatted for a while. She actually read my blog, which I shared to the FB Group of the Via Alpina. What a coincidence! I was sitting in the shade the whole afternoon. At 6pm all the tourists were gone, because then the last train was going down. Then I had this amazing place almost for myself 🙂 I had a queen sized bed for myself and couldn’t been happier to be there! The sunset was so stunning and I took tons of pictures! I was so thankful to be there, to do this hike, to everything 😀
Day 17 – Rochers de naye to montreux
I took my time on that day. Some parts of me just didn’t want it to get to a end and the other part want it so badly. But first, I had breakfast! They even had Pain aux Chocolate, yummi! I packed everything up and started to hike at about 8.45am. In the beginning it was a nice ridge walk then in the forest. It ended up on a gravel road, of course (haha). I walked across the tracks of the cog railway and trough a village. Close to Montreux the trail made a curve and went through a spectacular gorge! First it wasn’t so interesting, but suddenly I thought I was in a rainforest. Well, I was never in one, but I imagined it that way. There were big walls covered in green plants, which were hanging down. It look really beautiful and you couldn’t hear anything else than the stream. The temperature was nice and cool. Civilization hit it, when a huge bridge appeared above and you saw the pillar. The town of Montreux looked like you were somewhere south in Italy. The buildings were old and there were little alleys. I followed the markings to the actual endpoint. There was a sign with a quote of Goethe “Nur wo Du zu Fuss warst, bist Du auch wirklich gewesen.” in english “You only really were where you were on foot.” I was a little disappointed by it. But hey, I didn’t hike here for a big monument!
After that I walked along the lake promenade to the next grocery and bought food. Oh man, I couldn’t hold me back.. I just wanted all! I bought sushi, hummus, carrots, cherries, bell peppers and something to drink. Now the plan was to find a place, where I can finally jump in the lake! It was really hard to find anything, so I ended up eating my sushi on a bench. After that I found anyhow a little place to swim and it even had sun chairs! So I swam in the lake in my underwear 🙂 I really didn’t care much, if people would look weird. I fu*** walked here!!! I decided to go home for a few days to rest. It wasn’t my actual plan, but why not 😉 So I enjoyed the lake in the afternoon and took the train back home in the evening. The ride was pretty amazing! I bought a beer and chips and eat those. After that I felt really sick and thought I gotta threw up. I totally forgot that I eat sushi and cherries.. yikes! Luckily I didn’t 🙂 I had a second beer at home with my parents. Can’t wait to be back on the Alpine Pass Trail 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading this and sorry for my bad english (I’m sure there are many mistakes in it), but that’s fine for me! haha
Wohoo, I‘m already halfway! It‘s been 9 days since I started the trail and what hell of days they were.. Time on trail is flying by and on the same time it‘s going so slow because you expirience and see so much cool stuff!
The weather was the whole first week pretty mixed up. There were (a few) good days and there were miserable days! On the first day I actually wrote a seperate post about it, check it out!
Day 2 – Sargans to Untersäss (Weisstannen)
The second they Elena and I walked the whole day through the Weisstannen Valley! This Valley is quite untouched and it feels really remote though you’re not far from Sargans. I was really surprise how beautiful it was! Highlight of the day was for sure the Schnaps Bar in a little Birdhouse from the trail crew 🙂 We had a half glass each and it was actually before lunch!
We had a really nice campspot next to the river, which was really loud. We’ve been lucky with the spot, no cows were there! That’s making it quite hard sometimes to find a good spot. Of course it rained on us when we got water from a fountain and I had (for the first time) my down jacket on and not my rain jacket.
Day 3 – Untersäss to Elm
It started all good, but already a hour into the day it started to rain and it wouldn’t got better for the rest of the day! We made our way to the first Pass, Foopass, on about 2200 meter above Sealevel. Luckily there no snow anymore to cross! I packed my phone and camera into the pack, so I don’t even have a picture of the Pass! It was just a very miserable day. With the rain also the cold came and this made it even worse. On the descent to Elm we stood once in front of a herd of cows and we had to go through them! Haha it was fun afterwords, but in that moment not really. With the miserable weather my motivation was really low and I just wanted a warm bed for the night. So I treated myself with a (pricey) hotelroom! Elena left on that day, which I could totally understand.
Day 4 – Elm to Linthal
On Day 4 the weather finally changed! As I looked out of the window in the morning the sun was already shining. After a nice breakfast in the hotel I started to hike uphill! I was feeling really good that day. Before the pass there was still some snow and it got steep. There was also a little plateau before the pass, it was soo beautiful! I even saw some young chamois, the highlight of the day 🙂 The descent of Richetlipass was steep and long till you came to a dirt road, which leds all the way down to Linthal. And of course I crossed many cows as every day! I pitched my tent right before hiking down to Linthal. It wasn‘t a great spot as found out pretty quick after pitching. It was heavily raining and I had a little puddle in my vestibule.
Day 5 – Linthal to Urnerboden
As I thought the weather is actually getting better I was profen wrong. I started hiking down to Linthal, where I went resupplying some food. Soon after I started the climb up to Braunwald. I imagined the view must be amazing, but everything I see was just a grey wall of clouds. I hiked further into the clouds. The trail that day was super muddy from all the cows. That‘s because the hiking trails go ofter through cow territories and then the trail is pretty messed up by them. So I was hiking slowly. As I came to Urnerboden, which the whole Plateau is called the rain started again. I walked a bit on the main road and was kinda hoping a car would stop. But nope, not a single car stopped and I was kinda not in a good mood after. I was hiking fast, because it was flat and I really wanted to get out of the rain! In town of Urnerboden I went to the guesthouse and asked them if I could sleep there. It was still early as I came there, so I had lots of time to shower, dry my stuff and drink coffee and write in my journal. Later in the afternoon another via alpina hiker came! He was walking the other direction. We had a really great evening together sharing stories and laughing a lot.
Day 6 – Urnerboden to Attinghausen
I overslept that morning. The beer in the evening and the nice bed made me sleep like a baby. Jeffrey and I were having breakfast together and then set off. It was really fun to talk with someone that understands! Thanks again Jeffrey! I hiked up to Klausenpass in about 1.5 hours. Up there it was busy with motorbikers and cars, so I kept hiking downwards in direction to Altdorf. The trail was leading up high for a while and the views were really amazing! The weather wasn‘t perfect, but you could see some mountains. Down in the valley it started to rain again like almost everyday. It was a long say and I was really tired already in Altdorf. I was standing at the memorial of Willhelm Tell and planned where I could camp this night. I walked through the town to another village and a bit uphill till I found a good place. For the first time I cooked dinner outside, what a highlight!
Day 7 – Attinghausen to Gerschnialp (Engelberg)
I started pretty early that day. In the beginning there was a steep climb up to Brüsti, where also a gondola was going up. That makes it not as safisfying, but I made it anyway 🙂 After this climb the clouds were coming and it was a whiteout. So I made a break and put my jacket on, because it was cold. Then I walked in the clouds to Surenenpass. Sometimes I could see a climbs of the surrounding mountains and als the Lake! When I could the see the top of the Pass it was all covered in snow. Luckily there were already some hikers going up so I can do it aswell. The snow was pretty slushy and I didn‘t had my microspikes with me.. but I made it! On the other side was to my luck no snow anymore, so I walked easily the valley doen. It was Sunday and lots of people where in the trails and also tons of mountainbikers. The trail was mostly on a gravelroad to Engelberg and it went on and on. I was running out of Food and was really happy to see that the Shop was open. Which is not normal in Switzerland!
Day 8 – Gerschnialp to Innertkirchen
When I looked out of the tent in the morning all the Mountains were in clouds. First I had a steep climb up to Lake Trüeb in front of me, again under the gondola. I made it within a hour and up there the weather wasn‘t better at all so kept hiking to Jochpass. Up there it was a whiteout and I went to the reataurant and had some coffee. This is the way how I treat myself these days 🙂 After I hiked down to Engstlenalp and the weather was getting better and it was suddenly warm! Because it rained in the morning there were so many salamander out on trail, I counted 13! I got super terrified when out of nowhere a big bang was shot!! Finally the weather was getting better and it was suddenly warm. The Via Alpina was closed for the next bit because of constructon work. They used dynamite to bust some mountain away, that‘s why the bang.. I didn‘t wanted to walk some extra kilometers so I decided to walk the road down to the valley. It still was a nice walk 🙂 I even saw some baby ducks. Down in Innertkirchen I stayed at the campground. I phoned with my mom to arrange all for the next day. They were planning to visit me in Grindelwald!
Day 9 – Innertkirchen to Grindelwald
I woke up from the noise of the road next to the campground. The weather was amazing! Not one cloud was so see and it was already warm at 7am. I made my up to the grosse Scheidegg, which was endless. The trail was mostly next to the road.. but the views on that day were incredible!! I had this huge mountain right in front of me, it was really impressive! I took a long lunch break in the sun and dried my tent and everything which was wet. It was soo nice to finally have sunshine 🙂 On the grosse Scheidegg I still needed about 2.5 hours to get down to Grindelwald. There I was really tired and excited to see my parents. We went out for dinner and had a nice evening. Our room had an amazing view of the Mount Eiger!
So that was it, the first half of the Via Alpina! I took a zeroday in Grindelwald, which I thought I earned 🙂 Looking forward to the other half of the trail.