Category Archives: Switzerland

Lac de Joux

After three weeks of hiking, I finally came across a mountain lake.

It’s about time! I always saw the big lakes in the valley: Lake Murten, Lake Biel, Lake Neuchatel, Lake Geneva. They were beautiful but way too far away. I kept longing for a cold lake to be right next to the trail, to dip those tired feet in. Or, even better, to throw that whole tired body into the rejuvenating mountain spring freshness. Well, today Lac de Joux did not disappoint. And the little village of Le Pont (aptly named) was so beautiful it almost hurt the eye.

Beware of Speedy Hikers

On my way towards St. Cergue this morning… getting ever closer to where I will cross the border from Switzerland into France…

As I stumbled to an open restaurant for a strong morning coffee, I came upon this curious little sign on the path.

Does it mean, “Beware of speedy hikers”? For slow hikers like me, so we won’t get run over? 🤔🌬

We Need To Talk About Cows

They are everywhere. Which is great, overall, and there is something soothing about all those Swiss cow bells, too… unless the cows are right next to your tent… Because, somehow, cows seem to never stop moving their heads, so the sound never stops.

Then, there is the good advice of “avoid the cows.” Great. How can I avoid them when my hiking trail literally leads me through every single cow pasture of the Jura region? Then, there are the signs saying, “Please don’t leave the trail.” Right next to other signs saying, “If cows are on your trail give them a wide berth.” Oookayyy.

And then, there is the thing about mother cows supposedly being especially aggressive to protect their young. If there are no calves, then you need not worry. But, today, I almost got attacked by cows who had no babies with them at all…? Thankfully, I had my walking sticks. The aggressive-no-baby-cows were standing right on the trail…

I left the trail, and gave them as wide a berth as possible, avoided eye contact, and literally tip toed around them through the high grass. When suddenly, I heard one cow stomping her hoves, followed by sounds of her galloping towards me. A quick glance backward confirmed she was headed straight for me. And another cow started to move towards me, too. Instinctively, I whirled around, into some sort of Kung Fu stance, both walking sticks extended towards the aggressive bovine ladies, and screamed at them “Leave me the fuck alone!” Somehow, the combination of profanity and sticks worked. The cows stopped in their tracks. I kept brandishing the sticks and continued tiptoeing, backwards, away from the large ladies, until I reached the gate in the fence and unceremoniously fled through it as fast as I could.

To celebrate my rather rude escape, here a herd of cows for you, changing pastures, and a little cow bell concert. Enjoy! To get the full cow-bell-fix, turn the volume up high 😉

Creux du Van

How can I possibly have lived so many years in Switzerland without ever hearing about the Creux du Van? It’s lovingly nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon of Switzerland’ by the locals. Which (I have to be honest) is a massive overstatement. But, Switzerland is a small country and, like many other things around here, small doesn’t deter from being fabulous…

My good friends Angie and Leo caught up with me in Noiraigue yesterday around midday. From there, we hiked three hours up to the Creux du Van. As the trail zigzagged up the mountain, the Swiss were so kind to number the bends. It drove me nuts, because it made me feel as if the hike up was longer than it actually was.

One thing I’ve discovered over the last three weeks is that it’s best not to think about how long something will take. I’ve also learned not to think too much about the trail going up or down. It’s best to just move forward, step by step, no matter what the trail does, without obsessing about details which can’t be changed anyways. But yesterday, try as I may, I couldn’t ignore the bright yellow number on a tree at each bend.

Oh well. All worth it in the end. When we finally made it up to the plateau, the Creux du Van lay beneath us in all its glory. And, albeit small, it really is glorious!

Leo and I shared his first ever cheese fondue. Then, Angie and Leo headed back down. I stayed the night in a tipi in the forest which was slightly warmer than sleeping in my own tent. The nights are freezing up on the crest!!

In the morning, I got up at sunrise and went to the edge of the canyon. The wildlife I had hoped to see wasn’t there. But, the sun was out. I just sat there for a while, drinking in the beauty around me before I indulged in a large Swiss farmer’s breakfast at 8am to then head out along the Jura Crest Trail once more…

Hiking in French

On the trail again!

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.

Soon Back On The Trail

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!

Feet and Flowers

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.

At Lake Biel

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…

https://step4circus.com

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… 😉

Hasenmatt

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!

Wildflower Meadows

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.