Leaving Péron I crossed into Switzerland, then back into France, then left France, for the next few weeks at least, at the eastern end of Lake Geneva.
At lower altitudes Switzerland can be slow and frustrating to ride in. Higher up it is a beautiful castle of a country, fortified by endless chains of mountains with roads like battlements. There is a sense of separateness, of something preserved and hidden from the Europe surrounding. It is a place in between—in terms of my trip, in terms of the languages they speak, in terms of its borders—but also a place outside, and fascinatingly so.
The Swiss seemed defensive too about wild camping, or at least they had many signs with a crossed-out tent and "no parking 2200–0700". I don’t know how strictly they enforce them, but it wasn’t hard for me to find somewhere that I wouldn’t be discovered.
In the morning I took the first cable car up towards the Trift Bridge. I was going by a picture I’d stumbled across online. I also knew that it was one of the longest pedestrian footbridges in Europe: 170m in span and 100m above the gorge below. All the same it surpassed every expectation; for the hour’s hike up beyond the cable car station I had the trail entirely to myself and feel truly privileged to have been there.
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There is a good loop of high passes around the Andermatt area. While there was still a lot of snow I had none of the problems with closures that I did in France. At the Furka Pass I did some more sightseeing: The Rhone Glacier is right by the road, and there’s a cool (literally and figuratively) tunnel into the ice that’s open to visitors.
In Péron I’d been able to plan this section of the route in detail. I aimed to take things more slowly. But despite being up at 5:30am I didn’t have much of a break until I found a camping spot at 7pm, unfolded my tarp, laid it flat, and with string and pegs and sticks and rocks held it to the shape of a shelter. Planning is mostly deciding on places to visit, points on the map. The fulfilment—and work—of travelling is unfolding these points into routes and again into new surroundings.
Next time: Leaving Switzerland for Italy, Austria and Germany…