Suisse Voyage, 2014
All the Pictures
I've whittled down the pictures i took my (8 MP) cameraphone to about 400, and they're here with captions.
Mirabelka took a lot too, and with a much better camera. (And she's a much better photographer and editor.)
Planning, Getting There
Mirabelka and i went to Switzerland for about 10 days: 5 - 15 September. I'd never been to Switzerland before, and it had been near the top of the list of places i wanted to visit. (Perhaps i should say high on my "list of mountains i want to visit" -- mountains are my favorite places, and there are still many mountains ranges i've never even gotten close to.)
I did a lot of planning for this trip -- more than any other -- but it was not enough. (At least for the first visit.) The "problem" with Switzerland is the staggering number of choices of trails, accommodation, etc.. Buying one of those package deals would eliminating most of the planning, but there were issues with those:
- They're not cheap.
- The lodging they arrange seems to be entirely in hotels (in valleys), and when i looked at the maps, it seemed like it should be possible to mostly stay in mountain huts ("cabanes") and therefore mostly in the mountains, avoiding a lot of "extra" up and down, as well. Staying up in the mountains also changes the "tone" of the vacation, making it a "living in the mountains," rather than "staying in hotels and visiting the mountains each day."
- I'm (at times) contrarian and organisation-averse, so the idea of being bundled into a group of people going to pre-arranged destinations that someone else picks is... repugnant.
- They transport your luggage on the bus, which seems like cheating.
With the SchweizMobil mapping site i explored many routes, and eventually came up with a tour around part of Valais, a predominantly French-speaking canton in the Southwest corner of Switzerland, sharing a long border with Italy, and bit with France. As our flight was into Geneva, starting in Valais minimised the (train) travel to the mountains. Valais contains nearly all of the fairly well-know Haute Route. I looked at Steph Abegg's Haute Route trip reports a lot.
I made a
spreadsheet with the hiking times of routes between desirable destinations. It has several pages (tabs), but eventually we settled on the one entitled "Chanrion - s3." At the time i thought some of the days might be kind of long with full packs, but i just didn't have enough time to plan a good route that had no single day of walking over four hours. (Plus we figured we could change the route once we got there, if needed.)
If you've done much hiking in Switzerland, you are probably saying to yourself, "Why would you carry a full pack?" Which is a very good question to ask yourself when you are sitting on the sofa thinking about your holiday, not when you are already in the mountains, negotiating a boulder-y trail with about 20 kg (> 40 lbs) on your back
My line of reasoning had gone something like this:
- We're vegetarian, and we don't eat any milk products. (So nearly
vegan, but eating honey and free-range eggs.)
- People eat a lot of cheese in Switzerland, perhaps especially in
the French-speaking mountainous areas, so what vegetarian fare we were
likely to encounter would probably be cheesy.
- The mountain cabanes are in the middle of nowhere
(which is one reason why people go there). There's not going to be a shop nearby
where one could do some find something else to eat if there's nothing suitable on
the menu at cabane. So unless you bring food, you either eat what they
prepare, or you don't eat, which would be tough after you've spent the
day hiking in the mountains.
- One of the cabanes had reserved bunks for us, but hadn't responded (via email) about whether or not they could fix a dinner for our diet, which seemed to suggest they wouldn't.
That in mind, i figured it'd be best to carry food, and as Switzerland
has a reputation for being quite expensive and availability of
(mostly)-vegan food in small mountain villages seemed dubious, it seemed a good idea
to bring nearly everything we would need from the UK. And not wanting to eat
cold food for nearly two weeks, we also brought a camping stove and pans.
We made a few other "heavy" choices, but at least we didn't bring
the tent. (In Switzerland, camping is only permitted in a few
(commercial?) campgrounds, so it didn't seem like it'd be useful, except
in an emergency.)
The inventory was something like:
Clothing - johan
- small clothes for five days.
- one fleece shirt
- rain jacket
- warm hat
- outer glove "gauntlets"
- two pairs of warm socks
- trail running shoes
- vans (shoes) [left these in the hotel bin on day 6]
- flip flops
- two pairs of long johns
- two pairs of shorts
- couple of small bandanas
- one Android smart phones (with SchwiezMobil App)
- one Android tablet (with SchwiezMobil App)
- Garmin GPS for recording path, checking altitude
- two pairs of double-AA batteries for GPS
- headlamp, with two pairs of AAA batteries
- charger for AA and AAA batteries
- xtorm "Lava" Solar Charger
(And a few other things i'm forgetting.)