Via Alpina – stage 17

Early morning light. And it was pretty early. I was on the trail at 7.30 figuring I had a 9 hour day ahead of me. Because I was staying in Feusteroey, I had to tack a few more kilometres on an already long day. So – 30k. Doable.

The day was gorgeous: shorts and t-shirt weather. Blue skies, temps in the 20s and no humidity. You couldn’t ask for a nicer day to hike.

And it was, as advertised, a gorgeous hike. I know this is true because I took 65 photos. Which ones to share? Such a dilemma. I love them all. Here are a few:

Oh – that last one? It’s at the top of the first pass (4 passes in all today) and is the last distant glimpse of the Bernese Alps – Blumisalp, Jungfrau and so on. Okay : more

And that one is the stone wall that officially divides the Canton of Bern from Vaud and instantly the language changes. I was never more fluent in German in my life than these last couple of weeks and now I have to dig out my very rusty French. So far so good but darn it, I was even beginning to think in German! Okay, more pics:

That last one is looking back at my snack spot at about 10.30 am. Hey! I had a snack! Yay me! It’s not that I haven’t wanted to on other days but in cold, rainy weather, it’s hard enough to stop for lunch let alone trail mix. More photos:

This, of course, is your livestock shot of the day.

And it was around here that I began to lose a bit of time. I misread a trail sign and 15 minutes of downhill later I said to myself, “this ain’t right!” Happily, another hiker came up and I asked him about it and he pointed and I stumbled in my request and between us we figured out where I wanted to go and so, back uphill and a turn onto the hillside and the track in the photo. My mistake was that I kept thinking I would eventually have to go downhill. Well, yes, but very eventually. As I said, four passes. And none of it was easy. I mean, it wasn’t hard per se – it was just the time and the constant up and my feet got sore and my left knee is not happy.

That said, there was an awful lot of prettiness to keep my occupied. And even at least one deep thought for the day (can’t let a day pass without at least a tiny bit of insight). Today I thought about how difficult it is for me to stay in the present. Easy if I have to really focus, like scrambling up wet rock for instance. But if I’m ambling along, my brain goes straight to wondering how long I have to do this thing or what time I will achieve that other thing. I am inclined to do future rather than present. Something to work on.

At any rate, in Vaud, the buildings are rather gorgeous – lots of stone work:

And then, as I am hiking along , getting pretty tired because I’ve been doing this for about 8 hours, I come to a farm gate. There are several of these every day. But this one was double barbed wired and electrified. I tried everything to get through, short of impaling myself by using my hiking poles to vault over it. I was utterly stymied. Either this farmer had Houdini cows who get through the regular gates or he really had a grudge against hikers.

So I wandered downhill a bit and found a wider entrance to the field with a gate that was still really hard to open and close. But this left me in a different field with a barbed wire fence above me. Oh well. Let the bushwhack begin. It was not pleasant. I countered around hillsides and climbed into and out of gullies for a good twenty minutes before I began to see where the track ran above me. A steep scramble up and – hurrah – there was now only one electrified line. I crawled under it and voila! Damn you, farmer! I foiled you!

And so on and on and every time I thought the trail should start going down, it went up.

And then it surprised me by going up and around and there I was at the top of another pass and there was Col des Mosses below me, not at all where I had expected it to be.

The sign told me I had an hour to go. Believe me, if there had been a bus service, I would have taken it. But I hoofed it down – ending the day at 9.5 hours.


I checked in. I walked into my room, dropped my pack, dropped my clothes, got into the shower, ate my chocolate and am now sucking back a litre of electrolytes.

If you’re going to have a big penultimate day, this was the way to do it I guess.

Tomorrow – Montreux and the finish line. Hard to believe. But first, I am going to eat such a huge dinner tonight. Oh yes I am,

About goodyniosi

Writer, avid(!!!) hiker - living life to the fullest. Love, life, bliss - getting high on getting high (in the alpine that is)
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