As followers of this blog are undoubtedly aware, one of my favorite things to do here in Geneva and elsewhere across Europe is hiking. So when our two sons expressed an interest in getting a lot of hiking in during their 2-week visit, I was happy to comply. The best part, of course, would be the time spent exploring the great outdoors with the boys, but as an added benefit, we’d achieve a common fitness goal: to be in better shape after the two week vacation than we were beforehand.
Here’s a day-by-day rundown (with photographic evidence) of our hiking regimen during their two week visit to Geneva and points beyond.
Days 1 and 2: Le Salève
For the first two full days after the boys arrival, I introduced them to hiking up Le Salève. (I’ve chronicled my solo ascent up Le Salève here.) The main difference between my solo ascent and the group effort is that we put a stopwatch to the effort.
Here once again is what the mountain looks like from the base camp.
It’s a rigorous hike of about 900 meters vertical, and we estimated that the actual linear distance of the climb is “only” about 2 miles, which means one feels as if he/she is virtually climbing stairs nearly the entire way. (There is a level section half way up, in the village of Monnetier.) And when you are not “virtually” climbing stairs, you are actually climbing stairs, like this segment, about halfway up.
Our time for the second day? 1 hour and 27 minutes.
Day 3: Rhône River hike
On day 3, we reprised another hike that I have documented previously here. Since we hiked up Le Salève the first two days, I decided that we could use a break from the climbing, and decided to tackle the 4-and-a-half hour perfectly level hike along the Rhône. This hike involves taking a tram, then a bus 12 miles outside of the city, and walking back along the river.
Day 4: Le Salève, again
Chris earned a much deserved day off, but Pat and I decided to tackle Le Salève again. We hiked together as far as the telepherique station near the top, then Pat hustled to the top with me trailing in his wake. Our time: Pat, 1:20, me, 1:23.
Day 5: Northface Trail near Mürren, which is near Lauterbrunnen
On day 5 we all got up early, climbed into our Honda Jazz, and headed of to Lauterbrunnen, a spot that we visited without the boys a few weeks ago, and that I was planning a post on it, but haven’t gotten around to quite yet. Anyhow, its a lovely 3 hour drive to get to Lauterbrunnen, and after a short telepherique ride 1000 meters up to Grütschelp, followed by an equally short choo-choo train ride along the mountain ridge over to Mürren, you’re ready to start the 3 hour hike along the Northface trail, featuring a spectacular view of the iconic Eiger.
I took dozens of pictures along the Northface Trail hike, here are 2 of them.
The Northface Trail is unbelievably beautiful, but for my money, the best part of the hike comes afterwards, once you arrive back in Mürren and ride another telepherique down to the valley, as you walk a mile or so back to the car in Lauterbrunnen. I likened this stretch of trail through this valley to Yosemite Valley, only with better views and a lot less people. (Some have accused me of hyperbole, and to them, I simply respond, “Excuse me, I have somewhere else I need to be…”)
Here’s 2 more pictures of that portion of the hike.
Day 6: Travel day to the Dolomites, in the Brenta National Park, in northeastern Italy
Day 7: 6 Hour hike circumnavigating the Casina Lamola (2041 meters) near the town of Pinzolo
I used to think that Lauterbrunnen was the most spectacular place on earth, but then I hiked in the Dolomites in northeastern Italy. The peaks of the Dolomites were formed over 220 million years ago as coral atolls under an ancient sea. Think about that.
The hike on our first day involved a steep uphill climb for a couple kilometers to a shelter where we stopped for lunch, then the next leg of the hike was very steep uphill for another couple kilometers to a high ridge. I took this photo from up there.
The next part of the climb was entirely on large boulders and rocks. I was working too hard to take any photos on the way up, but I did take this one on the way back down.
Day 7: Another 6 hour hike from the Vallesinella Base up to the Groste Pass (2442 meters) near Madonna di Campiglio
We started out thinking that we’d take it a little easier on this hike, but you know what they say about best laid plans. (Answer: They often go awry.) None of us really minded though. It was a beautiful day, filled with beautiful sights, like this one.
Day 8: Travel day back to Geneva
Day 9: Le Salève again, and La Dole for good measure
Back home in Geneva, we decided to get serious and see just how fast it is humanly possible for someone to hike to the top of the Salève, so we decided to send Pat up alone, followed by Chris and me. Pat’s goal: 1 hour; Chris and me: 1 hour 30 minutes. So off Pat went, with Chris and me right behind.
Final times: Pat, 57 minutes! (Yes, a sub- 1 hour Salève climb!); Chris and me, 1 hour 27 minutes.
But that’s not all. After the hike, Chris had made arrangements to see some of his old buddies from the International School of Geneva, so Pat and I drove over to La Dole in the Jura Mountains about 30 minutes away (a hike I have previously chronicled here), and hiked up that.
Day 9: 2 hour stroll around Geneva
Day 9 was a Thursday, and I had a big athletic challenge I’ve been training for… more on that coming soon to a blog post near you… so we took it a little easier this day and took an easy stroll around Geneva. The walk took us over to the United Nations building, down through the city’s Botanical Gardens, across Lake Geneva on the Mouettes (taxi boat), past the Jet d’Eau, and into the old walled city.
Here’s a quick photo of the three of us that I surreptitiously took on that final hike.