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.
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!
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.
2 more days! Still packing… This is all the stuff I’m planning to take. Need to ditch a couple more things though. I’m still about 4kg too heavy. Altogether, I’m at 14kg but should have no more than 10… What to leave behind? (I have to take my iPad mini and a solar power bank so I can write while on the road).
What do you crave when you are far away from home? For me (don’t laugh) it’s Aromat. It’s a Swiss-ism. A quite unhealthy, artificial salt thingy. Most Swiss can’t live without it. Neither can I. And I’m not even Swiss. I’ve only lived there, off and on, for 17 years. Wherever else I went during the last 30 years, an Aromat was always with me. Making hard-boiled eggs and not having Aromat to go with it is a major emergency. Very sad.
So, even though I need to keep my backpack weight as low as possible, this Aromat shaker WILL have to come with me 😂☀️
Only 6 more days until I’ll be on my way! I’m getting quite excited and a bit frazzled. As always, the closer the date comes the more it seems like time is racing way too fast, and there is still quite a bit to prepare and test.
One of the toughest things in organizing this trip has been to find a solution for carrying my meds. Being transgender, I need to give myself an intramuscular injection every 20 days. Testosterone doesn’t grow on trees unfortunately, and it can’t just be bought over the counter either. On top of that, it should be kept in the fridge so it stays stable. Yet, I’ll be hiking in mid-summer in France and Spain, with temperatures most likely spiking up to 30 and 40 degrees Celsius…
Almost all travel refrigeration systems I looked at were useless to a hiker since they involved little ice boxes which were way too heavy and large.
Then, friends of mine (thank you Maggi and Abel!) alerted me to pouches for travelers which are being sold in Australia. There are crystals sewn into the sides of these pouches and when you put them in cold water for a couple minutes, the crystals turn into a cooling gel, which stays cool through evaporation and keeps meds safe at 8-10 degrees Celsius for up to 50 hours… by which time I’ll need to find a cold creek again to re-dunk the small pouches and re-activate them.
I wasn’t able to order these fantastic little (and also light-weight!) travel essentials in Australia, but ended up finding out that, nowadays, they are being produced in every country. As you see, the pouches have arrived and are ready to go. Nothing’s gonna stop me now 😉