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)
Today was kind of an amazing day, agony in shoulders and feet included. We had to walk mainly uphill and it was a hot summer’s day. Now it’s only 2 of us. Another friend left, but my good old buddy Dave is still along for the ride (probably for 2 more weeks).
I keep being amazed by all the Swiss people we meet on our hike (and am falling in love with Switzerland all over again). This region (the Swiss Jura) has practically no water up high. It’s dry as a desert (almost no open restaurants and all wells seem to be in the valleys), which has surprised us a lot, plus combined with the hot temperatures the lack of water sources poses a bit of a problem. Amazingly, every door we ring opens up to friendly locals who are more than happy to fill up our water bottles.
As for hiking itself, the learning curve is quite steep. I am learning that walking downhill with a heavy backpack is putting serious strain on my leg muscles. Walking with hiking sticks helps a lot!!! I am also learning all kinds of tricks and techniques to make those damn blister plasters stick the entire day.
As you can see with this photo, our efforts today were rewarded by pure Swiss bliss, in every way. Towards the end of our hiking day there was even a guy up in the mountain yodeling and serenading us with his alphorn. Such a beautiful sound echoing from one side of the valley to the other. We finished our day in a restaurant with a marvelous Wurscht Chaes Salat (a sausage-cheese-salad), and a couple of deliciously cold beers. Now, I am in the tent again, soon falling asleep to the sound of cow bells and rummaging foxes in the forest.
Yesterday, we came through beautiful landscapes. However, we gave it a rest after half a day to sort through our baggage to see if we can leave a bit more behind. When that was done we went to a pharmacy and bought some more Compeeds. Good to make use of civilization while we’re still so close to it. Today we’re heading out on the trail again. Seems it’ll be the last sunny day before rain will hit this region…
I just realized, I haven’t really explained where I’m walking at the moment. I’m on the Trans Swiss Trail which I will follow all the way to its end in Nyon. Then head on towards Geneva and the French border… and then crossing into France and onwards through the Vercours region and through the South of France. Yesterday my friends and I ended up somewhere close to Frohburg and set up our tents on this plateau with a view that isn’t half bad. I’ll need to do some blister maintenance this morning then we’ll see how far we get today. I’m really happy with my gear and thanks so much for all the good advice I received before taking off. Without it I’d be a bit screwed now 🙂. It’s great to start this off with friends. Andrea will stay only one more day. My old buddy Dave is open-end. We’ll see day-by-day how long he wants to tag along. The weather is outright fabulous at the moment. Not too hot but mostly brilliant blue skies. And the Swiss trail system is incredible. Yesterday, I even saw a sign pointing ahead and underneath (on an additional official sign) it said: 300 m along the fence then make a left… ahhh Switzerland, so delightfully quirky and perfectionist 🙂
Wonderful vistas on the Trans Swiss Trail yesterday. I did just 15 km due to blisters and feet and shoulders hurting quite a bit. Growing pains so to speak :). I’m hopeful that one week from now I’ll already be a bit fitter and in less pain. Yay, can’t wait!
First camping spot on our trip 🙂 after we walked 23 km on the first day. Damn, my feet hurt!!! This morning they hurt a little less, then 5 min into the hike they started hurting again. All well though and anticipated. Soon, it should get better!
Our sleeping spot was fun. Meadow with cows close by so we heard their cow bells all night long. Then got woken up by a deer that decided to trample straight through our little camp at 6am. Today we are 3 hikers 🙂
It’s time to head out! This morning, I’ll start my long-distance hike along the E4 in Brugg, Switzerland… Amazingly, I am not heading out alone. 3 old friends have spontaneously decided to join me. Stefan will join for the first day only. Andrea will join for the first four days. And my good old buddy Dave is open-end for now. Might be as much as a month…
If at any point in time any of you feel like joining in for a few days/weeks as well, just let me know! Any time!
Alright, here we go…
Boo is helping me pack the last odds and ends. So tempting to pack her too while we’re at it… But it’ll mean an additional 4 kg, so I guess I better not 😉 I’ll miss her to bits but, gladly, my dad is taking great care of her.