Into the Heart of the Alps

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Slowly Slowly Memsa'ab

Tried out my new backpack during the training hike last weekend, which reminded me of the luxuries of trekking. Not much weight to carry, a cozy sleeping spot all set up for you at the end of the day, no cooking required, and the food and drink is generally delicious. As opposed to backpacking, where you set up and deconstruct camp every day, carry all of your gear, and eat that which weighs the least and cooks the fastest.

Love Love Love the backpack Black Diamond Equipment has donated for this adventure. A Gregory Jade Series pack, designed specifically for women, with great airflow across the back and comfortable weight distribution.

Trekking Feels Luxurious, Compared to Backpacking

Although we had done a lot of backpacking, our first trekking experience was in Kashmir, India, west of Gulmarg near the Pakistani border, in the late 1980’s. We were told there had been a short war between India and Pakistan while we were on the trail, but we never noticed.

Our 11-day trek took us to Jowdoor,

Jowdoor Jowdoor, Kashmir, India

a village cut off from the rest of the world for eight months of winter, where the men walked around knitting hats and socks (the town’s main source of income), the women wanted to trade earrings with me (unfortunately, theirs had thick posts that did not fit through my holes), and the children wouldn’t stop holding my hand (they didn’t see many Westerners).

Eight years after being diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), climbing the passes was hard work (breathe in one step, breathe out one step, stop regularly when all breath seems gone), despite my carrying only a daypack. Our guides, hiking twice my speed in flipflops!, would encourage me to keep going with “slowly, slowly Memsa’ab” or offer that I could ride one of the ponies. Little did they know that the only encouragement I needed was the knowledge that hot tea and biscuits awaited me at the end of the day, followed by a foot massage, a delicious meal and hot chai.

Via Alpina Anticipation and Training Update

We will be hiking 22 stages of the Via Alpina this summer (each stage is a day). Leaving Salt Lake City June 27, returning July 23, with a couple days at each end of the trek to get oriented and as a safety net. If you want to scout our route right now, look at stages R161-R160, D61-D52, R134-R125 (you may need to click “reverse direction” to follow the trail from Monaco north).

We went for distance on last weekend’s training hike. 9.5 miles on the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon,

Millcreek Pipeline Salt Lake Overlook, Millcreek Canyon

with lunch at the SLC Overlook. Mostly flat, but I was moving fast (for me) and carrying some weight for the first time in a long time. Felt good.

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