Yesterday was a day of butterflies. They were everywhere. One thing I notice as I am hiking through these meadows and forests is that if they’re healthy there is nothing quiet about them. Everything buzzes, scuttles, and moves. Insects are everywhere. I haven’t seen this many ant hills since my childhood (and I’m ooold). Some of those ant hills are as wide as a person and at least one meter high. There must be a metropolis of millions in each one. On the trail, I can’t step anywhere without stepping on something. I just hope all those little critters are small enough, and the forest floor has enough give, so I am not crushing too many of them (Watch out for giant Liam!) Flies and bees are hovering and zooming all over the place. Oh, and I am rediscovering my grave dislike of horse flies. Give me a cute little mosquito any day. These horse flies are tenacious and their bite hurts like hell (grrrrr).
The beauty of this landscape is almost indescribable. I was thinking, will my photographs be able to convey how it feels here? But they really can’t. It’s the scent in the air as well. This potpourri of different grasses, leaves, bark, and dirt. It’s the perfect combo no perfume designer will ever even come close to designing. I wish, I could breathe more, breathe deeper, to let this wave of natural scent saturate me completely. Then, there is the sunlight hitting the foliage and blades of grass in different angles. And then, there is the wind, playing trees and grasses like instruments. Altogether, it is the perfect performance, the perfect composition. An opera for eternity.
Wednesday night, I said goodye to the area around Lake Biel in style, with a cheese fondue in a beautiful little mountain hut at Chasseral, up at 1’600 m, in wonderful company. Thanks so much to my friends Irene and Sylvain for making time and pampering me to bits!
On Thursday morning, my hosts Kathrin and Sepp and I drove up to Vue des Alpes. They did this trip extra to bring me to my next waypoint on the Trans Swiss Trail (which, I now found out, is more accurately called the Jura Crest Trail). We had a last coffee together before they “abandoned me in the forest” as they put it with a charming twinkle in their eye. I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me and for letting me stay with them for an entire week. My stubborn feet and I couldn’t be happier.
I took it easy on this first day back and hiked only for about 5 hours. The trail was more stunning than ever, staying above 1’400 m for most of the day. Below I could first see Lake Biel, then the even larger Lake Neuchatel, stretching all the way to the horizon. The clouds were spectacular. So were the grass lands up above the tree line. There were quite a few hardy Swiss hikers on the trail. The many “Gruezi”s have now fully been replaced by “Bonjour”s though, as I have entered the French part of Switzerland completely. Unfortunately, the Swiss dialect of French spoken here sounds rather different than regular French. So, beyond “Bonjour” I don’t really understand a word my fellow hikers are saying.
Et voila, at the end of the day, I found a rustic “Sleep in the Hay” mountain hut where I spent the night to avoid the thunderstorms which seemed to threaten on the horizon.
A wonderful day to you all! The inflammation in my feet seems to be almost entirely gone. Two more days of pampering the little rebels and off I’ll go on the trail again on Thursday. I will continue from Vue des Alpes on the E4 and keep hiking towards Geneva. Shortly after Vue des Alpes I’ll pass by Creux du Van, the Grand Canyon of Switzerland. Can’t wait!
Beautiful summer days here at Lake Biel. I’ve decided to be extra careful and wait until Thursday before I continue on the trail. If I start now straight away, I’m worried the inflammation will come back. By giving my feet a bit more recovery time, I hope I’ll be able to keep on hiking without any further problems (for now). My days at the lake are filled with flowers. I write a lot and go on short walks in flip flops.
Wonderful camping spot two nights ago. Only problem, it gets quite cold during the night when you are above 1000 m. At the moment wearing 3 layers of clothing in my sleeping bag. Lovely though to wake up to nothing but rustling insects and chirping birds…
Arrived at my temporary sanctuary in Luescherz at Lake Biel. Thanks so much to an old friend of mine for making it possible for me to stay in this beautiful oasis for a few days!!! I’ve stocked up on anti-inflammatory Voltaren gel and pills before coming to this little village. Next few days will be foot maintenance and writing articles for TheatreArtLife, plus brainstorming a bit more about step4circus, our initiative, which is still in its infant stage…
This area around Lake Biel is so breathtakingly beautiful. The city of Biel itself is just gorgeous. I can’t believe I never made it here in all those years I worked in Zurich… only a couple hours away. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to explore more now, and am already looking forward to continuing my hike in a few days. I can actually see the Trans Swiss Trail across the lake from my window here… beckoning… 😉
Another eventful day. We reached our highest point so far: Hasenmatt at 1435 m above sea level. The view was absolutely amazing as you can see. In the distance you can just make out the Murtensee and the Bielersee.
Since we are so high up now, the nights are freezing cold. I am wearing every piece of clothing I brought along with me but my teeth are still chattering. Looking forward to get out of the mountains in a week or so and be able to get a good night’s sleep.
Another problem we keep facing is water. The Swiss Jura region is very different from the Alps where you can find springs everywhere. Here, water disappears immediately in the pourous rock. We stop whenever we see a restaurant, to refill our bottles. But… most restaurants are closed due to Covid19. So, each day, it’s a bit of a gamble. So far, we always got lucky.
This mostly due to the amazingly helpful and friendly Swiss farmers. One lady whose doorbell we rang opened her door and asked “Water?” with a big smile before we could even say “Hello”. Last night, we slept on a meadow right in front of a farm house. Then, early this morning we were greeted with a hearty breakfast. Coffee, home-made bread, farmer’s cheese, milk and butter fresh from the cow. A true breakfast of champions!
The new shoes did a good job. I didn’t get one single new blister today 🙂 feet were hurting a lot though after 6 hours of intense hiking… but that was to be expected. It was a day of wild flower meadows, buzzing bees, gigantic ant hills, and cows. Hundreds of cows! We are now at Weissenstein, soon crossing over into the French-speaking part of Switzerland.
Ok, this is a tinyyy bit embarassing… (promise you won’t laugh 🤭)… I did really well in preparing and buying ultralight equipment. I even bought ultralight merino wool underwear (the most expensive underwear I have ever seen). For blisters, I was prepared with the right kind of socks and all kinds of paraphernalia…
However, what I did NOT do before I left was to actually turn my 3-year old, beloved, well-used Merrell trekking shoes around one time, to see what state they are in…
I do have sensitive feet. Yet, the amount of blisters and pain in the leg muscles I accumulated over the first week was to a large part due to me being an idiot and hiking up and down the Swiss mountains with worn-out shoes. Profile and soles were pretty much gone (I was sliding on those gravel trails like an ice skater) and the shoe didn’t lend much support to my feet and ankles anymore at all. In the end, I had blisters on top of blisters (a situation I had no idea was even possible).
So, yesterday, I went into the shoe store in the lovely Swisss village of Balsthal and chatted for an hour with two knowledgeable sales ladies. Came out with awesome Lowe hiking boots. As my buddy Dave says, “How Lowe can you go?” 😂 Life is bound to get much less painful from now on!!! 😅
Yesterday evening the sky turned into this, my weather app giving us severe rain storm and lightning warnings. So we legged it to Balsthal in Canton Solothurn where we took shelter in a cozy old hotel. We are staying here today. The sky still looks pretty much the same with occassional showers. Good chance to rest our legs, treat our blisters, and I bought new boots (but that’s a story for another day)