I admit that when, at 4.30 this afternoon, I sat down in the funicular for the 5 minute ride to the centre of Montreux, and I realized that this journey was over, I had a few tears in my eyes and a bit of a choked up thing going on.
I have not analyzed what that was about. At the time, it was because it was an ending and being in it was hard and amazing, and beautiful. And it was because I did it and it’s one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done. And it was the end of this and soon, a return to “real” life. And I’m happy about that.
But mostly, the emotion was just that – emotion. I felt full. I felt alive. I felt brave.
I also felt an awful lot of physical pain. But let’s get into the day.
I started off shortly before 8 under dark, cloudy skies. The first 3 or so hours of the hike were not a highlight of this trip. It was valley walking and then dropping into a gorge to finally rise up beside a lake. And for the next two hundred thousand hours, the trail (read paved road) ran beside the lake.
Finally dropping me into a dark tunnel:
And out the other side to lots and lots more paved road going pretty far down into a valley. This is always a tad disappointing when you know you have to go up and over a pass. I was just beginning to do that when the first rain shower began. On with my pack cover and goretex. However, this is also when all the prettiness of the alpine began to happen again. It was also when the next four cow gates were the dreaded barbed wire kind. This time I figured it out. I actually had to pull one of the fence stakes out of the ground. This was not easy. When I did, a whole section of fence fell down. I was sorely tempted to leave it like that. But being a semi good person, I replaced it. Imagine going through this four times while you are standing in stinky cow muck, trying not to impale yourself and wishing you were a 200 pound guy who could have worked this a lot easier than me.
And then the rain stopped. Yay! I could take photos!
It was a steep climb for a few hundred metres and then through a farm gate and – well, goats.
I tried to take photos but they got too close and actually started eating my camera case (you can see the proof) and then they followed me for the next 10 minutes or so before deciding that I was no fun.
And finally, the pass and there it was far, far below me: Lac Leman ( Lake Geneva) and Montreux presided over by Mont Blanc:
And that was the first 5 hours of the day.
And I had promised myself no more cow shots, but I couldn’t resist this one:
And then the long, long trek down. And that was fine until I had to go up and up and up so steeply that I stopped to pull out my iPad and check the trail instructions. Yeah, the guide called this another one of those “wonderful” belvederes that the APR is so liberally blessed with. Belvedere you say – I call it endless and pointless sidehilling when all I really want to do is go up or go down.
I did pass a lovely stone house:
And trees in the clouds:
And more clouds:
And for the next two or three hours I stopped every 15 minutes to either take my jacket off or put it on. Finally, I took the darn thing off for the 10 gazillionth time and decided I’d rather be rained on than take my pack off one more time.
So this was one of the things today: I was hurting from the minute I set foot on the trail. My feet are a mess. My left knee not as good as it should be although better now than this morning. I got very little sleep last night because my feet were throbbing and crazy hot. Most of the hike today felt like that last hour or two of a day-hike when you’re just eager for it to be over. After nineteen days, I was ready to stop. And that’s such a psychological thing too. Your mind knows how much it has to do and sort of gears your body to do that. I’m sure if I had to go another day or two, I’d be good to go. But today was the last day and I was all in “are we there yet?” mode.
And so, finally, after almost 9 hours, I arrived in Glion, the upper suburb of Montreux, about 30 minutes from the bottom and my hotel. A steep, mostly stairs climb down. So I took the funicular because I honestly don’t think my feet were up for it.
And here I am, waiting for the funicular to leave.
Done. Completely done. Close to 30k again today.
I have no reflections tonight. I will have tomorrow. Right now, all I want to do is be brainless and relax knowing that tomorrow I have absolutely nowhere to go.