#AskCicerone: Walking in Europe

Cicerone is by far the best publisher of guidebooks for hiking Europe.

Podcast episode 28 gives an overview of their 162 guidebooks to Europe.

Too many good choices in that continent. This is a good place to start.

#AskCicerone: Walking and trekking in Europe

Listen here.

Excellent Swiss Hikes

Our top multi-day hike in Switzerland is the Haute Route.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Our #1 day hike in the world is Harder Ridge. In Switzerland.

Here is a list of more fantastic walks as posted by Lonely Planet:

  • Faulhornweg 15km; 4½ to 5½ hours
  • Lakes of Macun 22km; 7½ to 8½ hours
  • Gemmi Pass 13km; 5 hours
  • Via Alpina 390km; 20 days 
  • Rigi Panorama Trail 7km; 2 hours
  • Aletsch Glacier Hike, Valais 17km; 5 to 6 hours 
  • Höhenweg Höhbalmen 18km; 6½ to 7½ hours
  • Kronberg Treasure Hunt Trail 7km; 3 hours
  • Bisse de Clavau 8km; 4 hours 
  • Best West Coast Trail video of 2021

    I hiked the West Coast Trail twice in 2021. And watched plenty of videos while putting together our own “How to SURVIVE the West Coast Trail” playlist.

    BUT was still blown away by Rudy D’Alessio’s cinematic edit — only 11 minutes long. It sums up the challenge and grandeur of our #1 hike in the world with no excess. No voice over.

    Shot on an iPhone 12 Pro Max with a Moment macro lens for the closeups.

    #respect

    Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

    I’ve subscribed to his YouTube channel (Ratatrail) and will be watching MORE starting with Pacific Crest Trail thru hike.

    19 Days on the JOHN MUIR TRAIL

    Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

    INTRODUCTION

    The John Muir Trail in California is our #2 hike in the world.

    Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

    Though I’d hiked almost every segment over the years, this was my first time hiking over 200 miles continually.

    There are hundreds of excellent JMT Trip Reports online. For example, I enjoyed Jai’s joyful photo journal from Aug 11-30, 2021.

    Rather than post a detailed day-by-day account, here I’ll simply recount some of my own HIGHLIGHTS.

    If this page is too long 😀 … watch highlights of my trip in less than 5 minutes.

    Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

    FIRE & DROUGHT

    Jai’s group finished one day before Forest Fire closures were announced.

    We were lucky too. Aug 7 – 24, 2021. No closures. Haziest day was Aug 23rd near Whitney.

    Climate change will — in future — increasingly make thru hikes of the John Muir Trail more difficult.

    LIGHTNING

    The other big worry on the JMT is afternoon lightning. This season Nicholas Torchia, 37-years-old, died after trying to take cover by leaning against a tree while hiking close to the John Muir Trail.

    FRIENDS

    For this adventure, I was happy to have my old hiking buddies Brian and Rocco join me for the first week.

    Hiking with friends is more fun. But logistics more complicated.

    Under my failed leadership in the past, we are known as the Backcountry Bunglers. AND we managed to bungle logistics again — though the hiking itself was superb.

    We had Pacific Crest Trail 500+ mile permits rather than JMT permits. PCT are much easier to get. BUT require that you start exactly the day and trailhead on the permit. Also, you have to carry a print copy. Lessons learned.

    Thousand Island Lake

    Near Reds Meadows we made the short detour to Rainbow Falls.

    And Devil’s Postpile.

    TREES

    Rocco is a student of flora and fauna. He particularly enjoyed the many kinds of beautiful (and weird) trees.

    FOOD

    When in town we felt obliged to CARBO LOAD in advance of our freeze dried future.

    One of our favourite restaurants was Breakfast Club in Mammoth.

    On the trail my dinners were mostly based on ramen, instant mashed potatoes and instant stuffing. REAL bacon pieces were one of my treats as were Jelly Belly.

    FEET

    Critical to a successful hike is footwear and foot management.

    What worked best for me in the California dry heat was trail runners and Injiji toe socks. In fact, I left my usual Merrell Moabs in Mammoth after the first 5 days.

    I cleaned and cooled my feet as often as possible during the day.

    Mid-day I’d stop for about an hour to use solar power to recharge my devices.

    CAMPSITES

    In the Sierra Nevada there are plenty of opportunities to wild camp. Set up your tent anywhere not too close to water. … Unless it’s posted.

    Late afternoon we had set up our tents … before noticing this sign.

    It’s EASY to find fantastic places to tent. Actually.

    SIDE TRIPS

    Many on the JMT stick to the trail, unwilling to miss even a single official step. Not me.

    I took 4 side trips:

    • Reds – Thousand Island lake on the PCT
    • southern Red Cone from Lower Crater Meadow junction
    • Goodale Trail to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) because the boat wasn’t running
    • Mt Whitney
    southern Red Cone

    VERMILLION VALLEY RESORT (VVR)

    On past hikes I’d never made the famed side trip to VVR.

    On arrival, the new owners welcome you warmly and offer a free cold beer.

    I’m really glad I did VVR this time, taking a ZERO miles recovery day. I met more people there than the rest of the days combined. Found myself at the same table with PhD students and veteran thru hikers.

    I stayed for the Saturday night all-you-can-eat barbecue. $26.

    Due to drought and low snow fall the previous winter, governments had held back water from Lake Thomas Edison. When this happens, the ferry can’t shuttle hikers to VVR. It’s a half day extra walking.

    For me it was well worth the side trip.

    Lake Thomas Edison – DRY in 2021

    I skipped the Ranch.

    SUNSET, NIGHT SKY & SUNRISE

    Highlights for one and all. Yet I’m disappointed I didn’t take more photos. I should have woken up more often to see the Milky Way.

    PASSES

    The story of the southern JMT is climbing a high pass every day.

    I enjoyed it. By Seldon I was feeling fit. My feet were great. In fact, I was in the BEST physical shape for hiking at the end of 19 days. It would have seemed EASY to hike back north.

    MUIR PASS

    Weather was good — but cold and windy when I reached famed Muir Pass hut.

    PEAKFINDER APP

    Navigation is easy on the John Muir trail with most of the popular hiking apps.

    I used Guthook and the free Maps.me app.

    Another I really appreciated is the free PeakFinder app. You must download the regional data when online as there’s very little service on the JMT.

    FIN DOME

    Of many, many impressive peaks en route — including Whitney — my favourite was Fin Dome.

    Fin Dome and Arrowhead lake

    BOOKS & WHITNEY

    The south gets higher and bleaker. I re-read DUNE on this section as it was appropriate to the environment. Hiking alone I was able to finish quite a few audio books, in fact.

    Here’s the final push to the top of Whitney.

    I was briefly the highest person in the lower 48.

    Since the weather was good, I decided to have dinner atop the peak. Stay for sunset. It was very hazy.

    A highlight, however, was walking down to Trail Camp on the far side of the mountain by headlamp and moonlight. My only night hiking of the trip.

    Next morning I was up for dawn to enjoy my final morning on the John Muir Trail.

    Whitney massif at dawn from Trail Camp

    Finally down at Portal, we celebrated with the traditional burger and fries. Relived highlights with hikers whom I’d been walking with in parallel for many days.

    A wonderful trip.

    Great Hikes in the Italian Dolomites

    The Dolomites are one of our top 10 hiking regions in the world.

    The wikiloc app compiled a list of some of their favourite adventures:

    • Lake Sorapis
    • Marmolada Peak
    • Viel dal Pan refuge from the Pordoi Pass
    • Tre Cime di Lavaredo
    • Sassolungo circuit
    • Adolf Munkel Trek
    • Trekking of the Thinking Christ
    • Fanes Cascades
    • … and more

    The Dolomites

    Discover one of Italy’s most beautiful paradises of valleys and mountains

    Andrew Alexander King attempts the 14 Summits

    Sponsored by Black Diamond Equipment.

    King, a mountaineer and adventurer, is attempting to climb the world’s tallest mountains.  If he succeeds, he’ll be the first African American to climb the 14 summits (the seven summits plus the world’s seven tallest volcanoes). 

    But, “conquering mountains” isn’t his actual goal.  He knows that bringing diversity to the outdoors is the real challenge.  …

    Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

    Day 6 – West Coast Trail 2021

    Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

    Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | gear | video | WCT info

    June 14, 2021
    Km 65 to Port Renfrew

    I awoke in the morning wondering whether my injured leg could get me out in time for the 3:30 ferry across the Gordon river.

    I had ALL DAY to make 10km.

    My leg felt no worse. And no better. Every step hurt but it seemed full strength.

    Two choices, both challenging:

    1. Inland trail (mud scramble)
    2. Owen Point (most difficult section of the WCT)

    I headed for the shelf.

    First challenge — many surge channels.

    Happily, the tide was very low. Waves almost non-existent.

    Best weather of the week.

    I was able to jump or walk around all surge channels without trouble.

    Plan worked. I reached Owen Point at exactly lowest tide.

    A highlight of the West Coast Trail.

    Next challenge: HUGE boulders and log walking.

    As a former gymnast, I enjoy scrambles. No problems.

    I arrived Thrasher Cove before Noon.

    From here my guidebook estimated 4 hours for 6km all inland. It could’t possibly take me that long, even injured. 🤫 Could it?

    The Thrash is a steep, switchbacking scramble from the beach up to the high inland trail.

    It seemed to take forever to reach the famed Donkey Engine.

    I started to worry about time. There is some gorgeous easy trail walking on the final 5km, as well. Nobody understands WHY this section takes so long.

    Donkey engines were used to pull huge logs, back in the day.

    I didn’t reach the final ladder down to the Gordon river until 3:25pm, 5 minutes before the (supposed) deadline to cross.

    Whew.

    As required, I waltzed into the West Coast Trail office to check off the trail. Relieved.

    I had a second permit to start the next day BACK to Bamfield. A WCT yoyo. But had to cancel due to injury.

    Easiest was to simply change the reservation. Out of the blue, I decided on July 3rd out of Nitinat.

    Once the excitement of finishing ebbed, my leg really started hurting on the slow plod 5km into Port Renfrew town.

    Just before I got to the hiker’s hut I had booked, 3 friends from the trail stopped to ask me if I wanted a ride to Nanaimo.

    Sweet.

    That was exactly what I wanted to do.

    I collected my resupply. Cancelled my reservation at the hiker’s hut.

    Got home before 9pm.

    And I’m already looking forward to another West Coast Trail week in July.

    Day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | gear | video | WCT info