I haven’t done very many hikes since living in Switzerland, and I’m very aware that it will start snowing in the mountains soon preventing me from doing any more this season. Couple that with the pretty foliage and beautiful weather, and I run out of reasons why not to go out for a hike.
I found something called Creux du Van near Neuchatel – just over an hour from Vevey. It sounded like it would be pretty impressive, so we decided to give it a try! We found a website that gave us the play-by-play (http://www.wanderland.ch/en/routes/route-0286.html), which was great for a group of three novice hikers.
We started off on a pretty fall path through the forest…feeling the burn immediately as we began to walk uphill.
And as with nearly every Swiss hike, we ran into some grazing animals in the path – this time sheep & goats instead of cows.
The potbelly pig was a funny surprise when we walked through the first farm! I hadn’t seen one in Switzerland yet.
The uphill kicked our butts. We were climbing for roughly 1.5-2 hours when we caught our first glimpse of Creux du Van…
We sat for a moment, but we were so hungry that we quickly started going again feeling hopeful that there would be a place to eat nearby. Unfortunately, the place at the top was closed (not sure if it’s closed for the season or permanently), which was a huge disappointment. We got out some of our “survival snacks,” including a chocolate chip cookie, TUC crackers, beef jerkey, granola bars, and dried mango. After our snack, we carried on with our exploration of Creux du Van.
[I love the Swiss farms and countryside you see on hikes. Can you tell what an absolutely radiant day it was?!]
[The views from the top were really beautiful!]
And of course, we had to climb out onto all of the precarious ledges to take a picture! They were a little intimidating, but the coolness factor kept me from being afraid.
The Creux du Van is a natural rocky amphitheatre. In French, they describe it as a ‘cirque.’ It was carved by glacial erosion. It stretches for 1.4 km (0.87 miles), and it’s 150 meters (nearly 500 feet) deep! Pretty impressive!
[Seeing the mountains off in the distance while walking around the rock formation was really beautiful!]
On the ascent, I knew that it would be smooth sailing on the descent. It’s always easier to go down, right? Boy, was I wrong! Granted, I wasn’t huffing and puffing, but it was TERRIFYING! This was mostly due to the slipperiness of the rocks and mud. A friend warned we might want to take hiking poles because of this, but as usual, I had no context / couldn’t visualize why the poles would be a must. In retrospect, I don’t know if they would’ve been helpful or not, I think I still would’ve been paralyzed in fear! I was SO slow, and nearly wiped out three times. I was also utterly AMAZED at the speed with which the other hikers (I’m assuming they are all Swiss) descended. They were practically running past me while I was taking one baby step at a time – fearful that with each step I would slip, crack my head open, and plummet to my death! The sign at the top told us it would take 1 hour, 15 minutes to get to the next farm with a restaurant. I think it took us between 2-3 hours due to the snail’s pace with which I was moving.
I was so happy to be back on a normal path that wasn’t slippery! And I was thrilled to wash all of the mud off my hands! And I was REALLY excited about food! By this time, we had hiked for 5-5.5 hours, and we were starving! Nothing like a hearty Swiss meal to regain your energy – sausage & rosti, yes please!
[Pausing every once in a while to look up and take in this beauty was really gratifying, too.]
We made it back to the start feeling very accomplished! In celebration, we took a selfie with the cows…because this is Switzerland, and I would expect nothing less than to be hiking alongside cows.
One friend was wearing a FitBit during the hike. She reported our stats at the end of the day: 11 miles, 248 floors climbed, 7 hours. What a fantastic way to spend a gorgeous fall Saturday in Switzerland! Now to take another Aleve to reduce the pain in my legs…