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Jura Crest Trail 8: Le Pont – Nyon

    I took the Sunday off. I just can’t get enough sleep when wandering around for two days in a row as I have a special job at the moment. Plus, Sunday is weekend, there may have been a lot of people in the Jura. I just want to finish this trail, which will take me one day I guess….

    Date: 11.06.2018

    So, I do the same as last time: I go to Le Pont. Nature has changed dramatically since. Summer is here, everything is lush and green. Unfortunately, the weather forecast could be better. I don’t care. My raingear is tested, I will not die because of rain. And the rain starts quickly. Rain in the Jura hills is often accompanied by heavy fog or low clouds. There is no risk, as the paths are often well established but short before Mont Tendre I decide to stay some two hundred meters lower. I did this before, so I am allowed to skip whatever I want, no reason to walk in thick fog.

    Cow season is in full swing, the mountain tankers work relentlessly to destroy the soil and turn everything into a swamp. Like in Ticino, I pass some patches that are no longer abused by cows and they look wonderful with all kinds of small plants. It is complete BS to claim that cows on the alps reduce the risk of avalanches or that they improve biodiversity.

    The hike to Col du Marchairuz is not that eventful, expect that it rains a lot and the paths are flooded. Sometimes I dodge the worst poodles but most of the times I just walk straight thru. My Hokas are gone, they fell apart after my little stroll in the mountains last week. So, I wear a pair of inov8 with just some profile left. These shoes are horrible on stone surfaces. To the point that I even slide out on a stair on a railway station. Nothing happens but I am happy having reloaded my credit card to order other ones. Inov8 will release new shoes with a new kind of material for shoe-soles called graphene. These shoes will simply have an extremely durable profile, but I have doubts that they will provide grip on stones. It is the mixture of rubber that does the magic.

    La Dole in the distance

    I meet a real thru-hiker at one point. He started 10 days ago in Olten, so he skipped the beautiful part of Aarau. Really, the best moment there was when I got a call from Wired, unintentionally, she tried to reach Norwegian Airways. This other hiker is equipped like you should be.

    For example, if you have left basecamp on Mount Everest and you are moving in 6000 m of altitude, short before trying to reach the final peak. He wears ridiculously heavy hiking boots and a down west. He is not shy on bragging, telling me that he was on his way the entire morning in rain and that he now got some warmth back in this house here.

    Sir, with all due respect, it rains since 10 only. All I wear is a long sleeve running shirt, a rain jacket, running shorts and my fabulous rain trousers. The temperature wasn’t cold at any point in time. The weather clears just in this moment and I show him the peak of La Dole in the distance. It seems to be near, but it isn’t.

    I encourage him to hike on, as he is currently bunkered up in a dark stone house next door to a cow shed. It is ridiculous, as it is the worst place to be on the entire section. Other houses are more inviting. He says he will try to reach the summit of La Dole today also. There is no way he could have done it. I walk the entire afternoon and reach St Cergue at 6 in the afternoon. It seems to be a place where people spend their holidays.

    This was covered in snow last time

    From St. Cerque they say on the signs, you have to calculate with 2 hours to the peak of La Dole. And 6 hours to Nyon. Maybe I can run up to the summit and then down to Nyon so I reach the last train to Zurich? It would require me to reach the summit at 7 in the evening. I try it but as usual I didn’t consult the altitude profile, nor did I study the distance. 26 km after a day of walking in under 3 hours is unfortunately too much for me. 600 m of height in just one hour is much too.

    Bad weather also in France

    After a split second of thinking about going home I simply hike on. I will not make it home today, so I have the pleasure to seek a hotel after midnight. I decide to deal with this later, but I am happy to have some cash now to order a quilt and a bivy bag. I stroll up to La Dole and get in some spectacular views towards Lake Geneva. Dozens of Chamois cross the path, just meters away. They are used to humans. At one point there are 6 of them crossing just before me, so I have to stop to let them pass. Just as I reach the peak a new bad weather front moves in.

    Glad I didn’t come up here when there was snow

    It must be the mother of all fronts, as the record for rainfall in Switzerland will be broken in Lausanne two hours later. I am not far away from Lausanne. On top of La Dole there is a radar installation from Skyguide, the Swiss air traffic control. A sign, still with an F-5 Tiger Jet engraved. Same stile as near the start of this trail. On the sign they claim that the radar installation can see 280 km in the distance. AWACS jets from NATO have a radar reach of 5000 km.

    Whatever, I overstayed my welcome here, thick fog moves in, I need to move downwards ASAP. A lonely trail runner crosses my path as he walks the last meters to the top. First thing I have to do is to cross an entire herd of cows. Mother cows with their calves. They are everywhere so I have to walk around them. The mothers clearly get nervous some charge me but turn away when I move my poles. Their farmer must beat them up regularly with a stick. The trail down is wet, it is 9 in the evening an I didn’t drink enough. Maybe doing 40 miles on 1.5 liters isn’t the best idea, eating sweets the entire time also not.

    I enjoy it nevertheless. The last two hours I walk in heavy rain and darkness. Plus, thunder. It is strange to watch the lightning coming out from the underwood. I feel secure as I am in the forest. The thunderstorm moves away just in time for me to walk through the open. I like this although I am wondering again, what the planners of this trail were thinking. The way down from La Dole to Nyon isn’t attractive at all but it is more distance than a half-marathon. Would it not be possible to extend the trail to Geneva up in the hills?

    Once I just watch my app in time to find the right way. It is not easy to work with a smartphone when everything is wet. My phone is double waterproofed, but the screen has problems to track the movement of your finger when it is wet. It really rains hard, but I don’t even get the hood of my rain jacket up. I just wear a trucker hat with a brim and walk through the rain for two hours. I am in Nyon at 12 in the night.

    Now the search for a hotel begins. I ask in two hotels where the receptionists claim they don’t know if they have a room. They look into their computer screens and then claim to be fully booked. Maybe the dirt on my legs didn’t please them? I walk a little bit through Nyon, a small town, it has seen better times in the past. Some houses look like they were empty for decades, some shops are closed forever. And they have a car repair place just next to a fancy hotel right on the lake.

    I knew there is a train at 1 in the night, so I take it towards Lausanne. In Lausanne there is the Hotel Continental, who has still somebody at the reception. I ring the bell, the same receptionist as some months ago, but he claims as well to have sold every room for the night. The railway station in Lausanne was flooded just one hour before I arrived. Now my options run out. I can’t reach Geneva, but I consider to just walk during the night – to somewhere. I notice that they even have cardboard out on the streets. Maybe I can collect some of it and sleep somewhere? Little do I know about the rain who will continue the entire night.

    I can’t find the hotel XY (name withheld to not insult anyone) until I see a red sign. I don’t think they will have somebody on the reception, but I notice an older gentleman coming out towards the street. A guest I think. Inside two other men are cleaning the carpet. Of course, they have no room for the night as their hotel isn’t in service at all as they claim. I believe them every word they say. It is common in Switzerland to clean in a hotel, who is out of service, at 1.30 in the night. So, I leave again as I am too shy to insist.

    Then my personal wonder happens. The old man on the street asks me, if I need a room. I explain to him that I just asked, they say they have nothing. His eyes flash for a split-second and then he says: I am the big boss here, we have a room for you! The other two gentlemen nearly eat their carpet. They remain calm, but they nearly start crying. There are several rooms, I take one for 135 francs and tell them that I will be gone in just 3 hours as I have to get the 5.44 train back to Zurich. The old men reduce the rate, down to 120, without even asking, as I will skip breakfast. He explains to me that they normally don’t take in anybody after 1.30 in the morning because there are strange people sometimes. “But you are not strange”, he says, “I see that”. I try to say sorry to the other men in my best French, making them only angrier. “Vous venez d’ou?” one asks me. “Il y as pas de trains a cette heure”! Well, I think, you work 50 meters from the train station and you don’t know when there are trains? Dozens of folks left the train with me. Why do you think I have these hiking poles (the most expensive carbonfiber poles you can get)? Are you mentally challenged? And you took the money from my card, so you saw that I am now allowed to use a room in your hotel. I wash my socks in the sink and go to bed after taking a shower. I move carefully in order to not make anything dirty and I don’t even take the free drink on the table. As I get up in the morning, for sure one of the morons from three hours ago awaits me and asks me, if I have gotten something from the minibar. Go home, shoot yourself, I think.

    I reach Zurich without problems and just two hours later I find myself cleaning again, in the restaurant where I work at the moment. With my own Dyson vacuum, I brought it in last week as a measure to improve efficiency. In my age, one has to be careful, when working hard. The restaurants own vacuum cleaner is from Siemens and cheap BS, no suction power at all. For idiotic vacuums, my life is way too short.

    This was the end of the Jura Crest Trail!