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Report 1021: Switzerland in Slow Motion: 100 Miles on the Alpine Pass Route

By Kaydee from Tennessee, Summer 2005

Trip Description: Our family's 14-day, 100-mile hike through the Swiss Alps on the Alpine Pass route (July/August 2005)

Destinations: Countries - Switzerland

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Walking/Hiking; Package Tour; 3-4 people; Adults and Young Children

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Page 1 of 19: The Walking Woods

photo by Another hiker

Kathy, Charley and Kelly in Austria (July 2005)

Although my daughter Kelly rolls her eyes whenever I say this, we're a family who loves walking vacations.

In late May 2002 (when Kelly was eight years old), we took our first walking vacation: a 50 plus mile circular walk in the Cotswolds area of England. We walked through fields of sheep, past ancient burial mounds, by ruins of castles, along small streams, and down the streets of quaint stone villages. We walked in glorious sunshine and pouring rain, sometimes walking for hours without seeing another person. We got lost a couple of times, but always managed to find our way. Each night we stayed in a small inn, usually several hundred years old, and enjoyed a hearty meal of pub food. While we walked, we sang songs, played word games, and told stories. We chatted with other walkers and bonded with innkeepers.

It was an absolutely wonderful family vacation. We didn't see as much as we would have if we had spent those same days traveling around England by car, but then we also saw so much more. We experienced the countryside much more intensely and intimately in this very slow way of traveling. We really enjoyed the physical exercise and being outdoors. And most of all, we loved the sense of adventure. We were participants, not just sightseers. Each day's walk offered up something unexpected.

With that first trip in 2002, we were hooked, and all our subsequent summers have included a European walking trip. In 2003 we walked 50 plus miles in the Alsace region of France, a picturesque area of mountains and vineyards near the German border. Beginning in June 2004 we had the opportunity to spend 14 months traveling and living in Europe. During our first summer away, in July/August 2004, we completed the 190-mile Coast-to-Coast walk across England, a two and a half week adventure. This walk was much more challenging than our previous walks in the Cotswolds and Alsace: a much longer distance over many more days and definitely more demanding physical terrain.

All of our walks have been "self-guided" trips. We work with a tour operator who makes our hotel arrangements, provides maps and detailed instructions about the walk, and transports our luggage each day. We carry day packs with water, rain gear and other supplies. We set our own pace and make our own decisions as each day unfolds, though we sometimes walk with other people met along the way. We need and appreciate the logistical support of the tour operator, especially the luggage transfer, since I don't think we could hike with heavy backpacks. And we do like the independence and flexibility of walking on our own; our pace is probably too erratic to walk with a group and a guide.

For our last three walks we've worked with Sherpa Walking Holidays, a tour operator based in England. There are several other companies that offer self-guided walking and or biking trips, but we like the Sherpa style and their trip offerings, and we've been very happy with their service. We also like the discount we get as return clients.

We planned our 14-month trip to Europe to conclude with another special walking trip... our grand finale... a 14-day, 100-mile Alpine Pass walk in Switzerland in July/August 2005. We arrived in Engelberg to begin our walk on July 28, 2005... ready for another adventure! The day-to-day story of our walk is taken from my nightly journal notes. And to really appreciate our experiences on this walk, the visual aids are important. There are many more photos, just click the link to our photos on the right.

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