Holy Guacamole!!

It has been 6 days since I set off for the big hike across Switzerland. In that time I have made it from St-Gingolphe (Lake Geneva) via Montreux, Montbovon, Saanen (Gstaad), Jaun, Oberwil to Spiez at Lake Thun. So far everything has been going well, I mean no blisters, no overly sore muscles, no scratches, no other injuries. Nevertheless, it has been tough, actually much tougher than expected.  No matter whether you are in good shape, no matter whether you are using some of the best gear possible, after a couple of hours walking, the soles of your feet start burning and your legs get heavier. Also, there are no easy days. Even on “short” days with relatively flat terrain, 6 hours of walking are still 6 hours of walking… Interestingly, during any given day you feel like you are making very little progress because you keep seeing the same valley or the same mountains. However, if you sit down at night and have a look at the map (the big picture) it makes you incredibly proud to see how far you have come. In a way this is very similar to our every day life, isnt it? How do I make sure I can keep going? 8-10 hours of sleep every night (after my hiking days usually all I want is a shower and a bed), lots of stretching every evening, no or little alcohol and yes after day 3 I went straight to a pharmacy to get a magic gel that keeps my legs young and fresh… Every morning I get out of bed really slowly and then test all body parts to make sure they still function. Ah, and there has been a change in my diet. Basically I drink and eat like a cow… (to give you an idea, one of the farmers I met told me that a cow drinks 50-100 liter water per day and eats 70kg grass)… and it is very necessary! With regard to the weather, I have been very lucky. The first week was almost completly dry (many paths are still wet from all the rain we had early summer though) and the temperature was great for hiking, basically ranging from 10-20°. This week the forecast is for lots of sunshine with temperatures >30° and thunderstorms. We’ll see…

But after a little bitching and moaning I have to admit… it’s also a great experience, one that I will never forget. I get to see corners of Switzerland I never knew they existed, never would have travelled there if it was not for this crazy hiking plan. And there really are some beautiful spots outside the principal tourist resorts. I am actually amazed how tourists are more and more drawn to the brand names (Gstaad, Montreux, Zermatt etc) and willing to pay almost any price while other villages half an hour away are “dying” because there are no jobs and the young population is moving away because of this. Always thought that modern technology would make it easier to work from anywhere but in reality people still migrate towards cities (probably a global phenomenon).

It’s beautiful to be outside all day long and observe the changing landscapes, weather, architeqture, languages etc. Walking is one of the slowest forms of moving around, so it really gives you lots of time to record your impressions and it also gives you lots of time for thinking. It also gives you real life experiences. For example in finance we always talk about herd mentality. Believe me, I have talked about it many times but there is no such thing as actually experiencing it. One morning I passed some cows and looked one of them straight in the eye. She did not seem to appreciate that and for some reason started to charge after me. Well guess what, the other 19 followed promptly. After I caught my breath again, I told the farmer to name his cow Warren Buffet but he probably thought I was on crack. Also actually saw a snake in the mountains (they always tell you we have snakes in school but I never believed it) and some other wildlife like fox and deer. The only species I did not find a lot was other hikers. I know I am not walking in brand name territory and probably no one else is doing this crazy hike but come on this is summer time, the main hiking season. Thankfully, the trail is taking me through several villages so I get to catch up there or often I stay at small hotels and lovely B&Bs where the owners are very interested to listen to my stories. Oh, and my favorite real life experiences are the bloody electroshocks from the cow fences and getting lost on the hiking trail (an extra 45min loop really hurts when you have an 8 hour hiking day anyway).

Almost forgot to mention that it is not all just about hiking. I was very lucky to cross the Montreux Jazz Festival and got to see a performance by Alice Cooper (whats the connection to Jazz here?). His face is a little wrinkly now and his belly has grown but his shows are still quite bloody… Also when I stopped in Saanen (Gstaad) they had a major Beach Volley Tournament there. No wonder I felt like the smallest kid in town but luckily I still managed to order some beer. In Gstaad I also spotted former UBS CEO Ospel and his wife. The were dining in an alfresco place and seemed to enjoy themselves. And finally tonight I took a dive in Lake Thun. The water temperature was a refreshing 19°, just perfect after a day of hiking…

Anyway, despite all the ups and downs that you naturally go through on such a hike, it has been really fun and unique and I have learn a lot about my country, nature and about my body. Will keep you posted when I have a chance but unfortunately there are not too many internet cafes in Switzerland. For the same reason I will upload the pictures when I am back home.

So long



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