Tag Archives: #circuscommunity

Byebye Switzerland, Hello France

Here a little map (it’s not exact), to recap and get an idea of how far I’ve hiked so far, where I am now, and where I’m headed next:
Yesterday, I walked until shortly before Sainte Cergue, then took a train to Geneva, where I plan to rest a couple days and have quite a few cold beers with my old friend Jonathan.

This finishes the Swiss part of my long distance hike.
The Jura Crest Trail was something to behold. Every forest, every meadow, every little village, every town more beautiful than the last.

I started my hike in Brugg (Canton Aargau) on July 6th, 2020.
Since then, it’s been 22 days, but only 15 hiking days
(7 days rest in between).
So far, only counting walking kilometers, it’s been approximately 200 km.
The Jura Crest Trail went up and down like a yoyo…
The highest point for me was at 1’600 m above sea level.

After Geneva, I’ll cross the border into France and continue onwards through the Rhone valley and the Vercours mountains…

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? 🤔🌬

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…

The Perfect Performance

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.

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.

Above 1000 Meters

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…