How I ended up Hiking the Via Alpina in Switzerland
Hi my name is Virginia, I am from Argentina. I met Shaun through a friend we have in common. On that day I was taught rock climbing by Shaun and Mo in Wimmis, Switzerland. Automatically, I could see the confidence that my friend had in Shaun, while he secured her and she climbed many meters up the rock face. They then taught me how to do it and helped me feel safe. I was on vacation in Switzerland, and I said to Shaun that I really wanted to explore the mountains.
That day we agreed to go camping the following weekend for one night, along with three other people who were interested. Shaun guided the tour to a lake in the Bernese Alps called Sägistalsee. I think the route was not very intense, but I didn’t even know how to use the sticks to walk. I had the backpack weight badly distributed and I was a bit out of shape. However, I found the path very beautiful, the views, the stairs we climbed and the adrenaline I felt. During the camping night, Shaun showed me how to use all the elements to cook and he gave me several tips to avoid getting cold. It was a beautiful weekend!
Hiking the Via Alpina – Grindelwald to Altdorf
A few days later, Shaun told me that he was going to walk the only stretch he had left to finish the route the Via Alpina route, which was no less than 86 kilometers. He asked me if I wanted to accompany him. I thought it was a great idea, although I did not know if I was really prepared to walk that far. I immediately said yes and our adventure from Grindelwald to Altdorf began.
There was quite a bit of preparation involved. We agreed on what food to bring, the things that each one carried and everything we were going to need. Luckily Shaun made me a list that was super helpful.
Grindelwald to Meiringen
The first day we met in Grindelwald very early and started hiking the Via Alpina, I was super excited to do a trek for so many days. We went up the mountain at a good pace, climbing over Grosse Scheidegg. Shaun congratulated me on how well I had done. We found shelter on a peak, ate, talked a lot and slept. He proposed that I take everything that was coming as a personal challenge.
On the second day, we hiked to the town of Meiringen. We had to deviate a bit from the road because there were people working and the passage was not allowed. The descent was very hard. My feet and knees hurt a lot because of the steepness of the path. Apart from that my boots were almost new and barely used, which was not so good. Shaun had already warned me that on the second day, the body will feel more tired, and the third day more so. By the fourth day your body starts to get used to it .
Meiringen to Engstlenalp
We started to climb the mountains again that afternoon, but sooo slow. I thought of going back to Meiringen to go home, so that he could continue the journey alone. But at all times Shaun motivated me to continue and he waited for me to catch up. He was attentive to how I felt and if I needed something. We didn’t go far that afternoon, so we looked for a place to camp while it was still broad daylight. I think that day Shaun set up the tent, cooked, cleaned and did absolutely everything. I went to sleep and woke up 12 hours later.
On the third day, with more energy, we hiked for many hours to recover what the day before I could not hike. We were accompanied all the way by incredible views and trails with cliffs on the sides. Along the way we had many conversations, about each others history, projects and concerns.
When we arrived in Engstlenalp, we met a local woman who allowed us to camp nearby. She invited us to have freshly baked homemade bread. We ate a lot of chocolate, like every night, before going to sleep.
Engstlenalp to Engelberg
We started the fourth day climbing Joch Pass. My body had become used to walking a lot. I no longer complained, or that something hurt. Maybe everything hurt, that’s why I didn’t notice it. The kilometers we did that day were incredible. I trekked in the snow! And then again, there was quite a drop on our way. Yes, my feet hurt a lot again. Descending is not my thing… Luckily we reached a shelter near Engelberg, where we made a fire and stayed up late talking. Talking to Shaun always left me something to think about or something to work on. Then we would also discuss what we had thought.
Engelberg to Altdorp
Thus we come to the fifth day with our last great mountain to climb. There was a little rain in the morning, with snow in the afternoon. We hiked uphill to a shelter that was situated just below the top of Surenenpass. The snow until then was tolerable, but very cold. While we were hiking we did not feel it, and for that reason, we stopped very little to rest. Shaun explained to me that the forecast indicated that it was going to continue snowing, and it was important to reach the top of the pass and descend as far as we could down the other side of the mountain. However, it depended on how I felt and if I was able to walk for several more hours.
We got ready to continue our journey, and we reached our last peak! It was very good to have achieved it, and to know that from that moment on, everything was not going to be so difficult… but, I didn’t expect the snow to erase our trails!
It started to snow a lot, and I started to feel nervous and unsafe, because I didn’t know if the trails we were going on were the right ones. Shaun used his apps, experience, and guidance to guide me along the way. He showed me each little trail mark, which made me feel relieved to know that we were not lost. It was key for me that he was so calm and confident, conveying to me that everything was really fine and our lives were safe.
The sun had already set, when we arrived at a shelter where we could cook and rest on our last night.
Altdorp to home
We woke up on Day 6 with a radiant sun, which allowed us to appreciate the landscape and glimpse the villages at the foot of the mountain. Shaun showed me where we had hiked down from Surenenpass. I had not been able to measure the distance, due to the thick fog that was there the day before.
We descended down the mountain passing through small mountain villages, through some places that would be ski areas in winter. We also began to meet people again. Finally we arrive in Altdorf, where we found transport to return home.
I returned home with my heart exploding with happiness for all that I had experienced. I would never have dared to do something like that alone. If it wasn’t for Shaun, this experience would not have happened. What makes me happier is that I have made a new friend in the mountains ♥
Hiking and Wild Camping in Switzerland