Basically I’m to lazy to write about each day, but I’ll try to make a brief overview about the little trip I had in June in Alps.
First of all I’m extremely pleased that I did this – the nature, the process of walking for quite a long time, being alone with my thoughts, testing myself, experiencing weather from hot, sunny days to snowstorms and heavy rainfall – it was just so grand for me and totally suited my own nature. I didn’t experience any extreme nirvana nor did I find the meaning of life (at least not the whole meaning), but in all I enjoyed almost every little moment on and off the road. Yes I had times not so thrilling like wet boots for like a week or one or two snowfields too many on the route, but I consider it an experience to learn from.
About the gear. Without food I carried about 10kg of equipment. I was mostly totally self supported – only needing to buy food occasionally and the water of course was essential. I’ve read quite a lot about lightweight hiking now and I definitely could and should go lighter in the future. Food added about 3-4kg depending on the distance to next supply possibility. Occasionally I totally overbought food and had like half a liter of milk in a glass bottle with me.
The gear worked well and I had only very few items with me that I didn’t actually need or use, but that was mostly because the conditions were good enough. For example I didn’t need the extra stove for different gas cartridge type, head torch, didn’t take any medicaments or had to repair anything except for my spork which actually broke before the trip. I broke my walking poles, but I couldn’t repair them there. My boots were wasted in the end of the trip, but considering that they were quite old already and seen some trails that didn’t bother me much. I was totally surprised that I managed with only two 230gr Primus gas canisters with my Primus EtaExpress, although I cooked like two warm meals most days or just boiled water for food. In the end I just burned the last one empty and it had 15 minutes of gas left in it. One thing that bothered me about the stove was that the piezoelectric igniter wasn’t able to ignite the gas in higher altitude, but having matches solved that problem. The Ferrino bivy bag totally failed the one time I used it in a few hours of rain one night, but that shouldn’t be a surprise considering the price. For the most part I think I made quite good choices from the gear available.
The point I’d like to mention separately from the rest of gear is maps. If I had gone with big maps for the whole trip then i would have had like 8 A2 sheets with me. I didn’t consider that to be very practical. So I bought the maps, scanned the parts I needed, edited them together in GIMP so they would fit on A4. I printed those double sided and laminated so they could take some abuse. Latter proved a very good idea. So I went with 5 paper sheets for maps. I had to buy two additional maps in the end phase. Handling them proved to be much more complicated and thankfully it didn’t rain.
About the regime. In the walking phase I had 27 days on the move, 1 forced rest day and two shorter days that can be considered rest days. The forced rest was because of snowstorm. I covered about 750km, that is about 27km per day. The time on the move was about 270 hours, that is about 10 hours a day. Woke up at 6 and was on the move at 7-7.30. On very few days I woke about an hour later. Went to sleep around 9-10. The longest day on the move was about 14 hours.
I can’t say the some day was so exhausting that I couldn’t go on the next day. The sleep wasn’t actually very good throughout the trip. Don’t know why, but I found myself checking my watch at about 2 hour intervals even when I slept in bed.
Health. You don’t have to guess twice – blisters on blisters. Left Achilleus went numb in the beginning. Hurting occasionally, feeling funny but minimum hindrance. DeepFreeze and band-aid were my best friends. In the last few days during the longer descents knees weren’t so good. Sunburn, especially on the nose. Last year I burned my knees while wearing shorts – this year only decent tan. Health was very good.
People I met. During the month I had on 1,5 unpleasant encounters with locals. The .5 was just person losing interest in me when I told that I don’t have enough money to pay for accommodation. The other one is a different story. I had walked about 3 hours that day and came to a hut serving food. Nothing special: just beer, sandwiches – just like every other hut and with prices like every other hut. Now I was just taking a short break behind the tables outside. I was asked if I wanted something by the owner of the place – some old guy. He got really pissed when I couldn’t get his hilly-billy accent. Before I left I wanted to use the toilets for number two. Old guy probably saw me through the windows, cut through the house and met me in front of the toilets. Over the noise of the generator he tried to explain how badly I’m behaving when I didn’t make him any profit and now was trying to use the toilets that he has spent so much money on. He went on and on about he has spent so much money on the hut and he can’t make living like that. My German isn’t that good so I didn’t start to argue about it. Just took my things and left, walked about 10 minutes and shat in the bushes. Fuck you old man and you comfortable toilets! When I started to think about it later I got really pissed. Here’s why. The hut is about 10km from the nearest town and has a road leading to it. In town beer costs about 0.50 to 1 euro and that is in a shop. If you buy a bigger amount and from a dealer then it’s even less. In the hut it’s 3 euros. Now this guy had a car by the house that could carry about 10 cases of bottled beer in one go. Also he had like 50 cows on the field meaning that he probably doesn’t buy milk, cheese or meat or buys in small quantities. The hut was basically an old farmhouse, built hell knows when. That penny-pincher (taken from a dictionary) is making profit of a lifetime in there and doesn’t like me using his toilet. Like said I got really pissed about that guy. Fortunately that was the last of that kind of experience.
I didn’t see much of walkers in the beginning, but the crowds grew as the season became more favorable and I reached more popular and accessible places. Most of the people I came across to were elder people and there was really lot of them. Going from hut to hut, taking their time and enjoying the free time available to them. The occasional locals I met on the path or in my campsites or in the huts take interest in where are you coming from and what you’re up to. Big thanks goes to my German teachers – I think I managed quite fine despite the long years I haven’t had the chance to practice. A remark about he language they use especially in Austria – when they are talking among themselves it was almost impossible for me to understand what they were saying ’cause of the local dialect they use. Fortunately they can speak normal German too and probably change to English. But I used as little English as possible. As a matter of fact I found it difficult to switch to English when I came up to a couple who didn´t speak German.
Company. Didn’t have any 😛 Of course there was people in huts or eating places, but everybody had their own goal and very few people went in my direction, who could keep my pace. For a day and half I hanged around with a Portugese guy – Nuno. I met him the day before I climbed Triglav. We camped together by the hut before the climb, ascended together to the top and descended to Trenta. Next morning he took his time and I was off. But it was great to talk and it always better to make a ascent that isn’t a easy walk with some company. In Trenta we had some beers and shared experience. Nuno is on his way to Monaco making the whole Red Trail in one go. I also met a older couple near Zugspitze who were on their way to Vienna. Did I miss constant company? No. Of course it great to occasionally talk to people more than saying “hello” on the path, but I was fine.
Highlights. In Slovenia – partisan hospital in a Gorge, climbing Triglav, the highest point in there – 2864m, almost stepping on some snake, caves in Matavun. Austria – fortifications along the Austrian-Italian border along the ridges, marmots, snowstorm, Drei Zinnen, sleeping in a tree hut, a water reservoir, mountain huts. Germany – Zugspitze, glacial valleys. And all the mountainranges, ridges and every piece of rock.
And that’s it. The rest of the pictures are here.