Saturday, December 6, 2014

For better or worse: a hike to Tiocan

I like to believe that I think things through. I like to believe that I account for most of the mishaps that can happen, especially when it comes to Oswin. We can't control all the chaos, nor should we try to, but when it comes to the no-brainers I like to think I've got it under control. 

And then sometimes I decide to hike to Tiocan with Oswin solo. 

It wasn't a bad idea, per say. Just maybe not my most well-timed. But in my defense, I hadn't planned on hiking all the way there, but was "training" for hiking there with Oswin. It's a hike I've done before, but not in the last two years. (Actually, I've just realized that it has been EXACTLY two years since I've done this hike solo...weird.) And never by myself with a 20+ lbs. baby in a sling. 

But how could I not? Oswin was having the BEST time. I never see her more happy than when she's out and about in the sling, and when nature is involved she kind of goes berserk. She puts her head back to look up at the sky, at the trees, the birds. She bounces up and down in excitement when the wind blows the branches. She laughs randomly at I don't know what...the string temporary fences to lead the cows up the mountain trails? I don't know. Something was way funny though. She held my thumb for a solid 45 minutes and was happy far longer than that. 

We hiked on the trials behind our house, in what felt like another world. The trails are narrow and very much in the trees filled areas of the mountains, so you feel very removed from everyday life. Boulders, moss growing on tree trunks, fallen leaves, wild alpine flowers, all can be found on our little trails leading up the mountain. 

And then we found ourselves at the road. We had hiked halfway up to our destination, and all that was left was a slightly uphill road to the point known as Tiocan. It's only a 20 minute walk, I said to myself. It'll be a nice walk, I said to Oswin. Well, nice walk it was, into a cloud. We couldn't see very far in front of us, which made the walk a bit mysterious, but also made it feel a lot longer. I felt like we were never going to get there. I apparently forgot that it takes longer than 20 minutes to get there as well, because thirty minutes later I got a bit panicky. Had I bitten off more than I could chew? Do I have to seriously call Dan to get him to pick us up? That was the absolute last thing I wanted. 

I felt a bit defeated. I called Dan for a pep talk. (He gives great pep talks.) He assured me based on how long we had been walking that we were almost there. It was unsettling to not be able to see it in front of us, but he was right, within 2 minutes of getting off of the phone we saw the sign. Which meant the parking lot and lookout point were just in front of us. We had made it!

{Geneva looks gorgeous from Tiocan, doesn't it?}

We took a few pictures to document the moment, one that had been on my list of "things I'm scared to do with Oswin but just need to shut up and do it." I was so proud of myself. You couldn't see much because like I said earlier, we had hiked into a cloud, but knowing we had made it was enough for me. "It's all downhill from here," I told Oswin. "It'll just get warmer and dryer as we go down. Let's call Papa..."

...and at that moment, my phone died. 

All feelings of relief from making it to Tiocan were gone. I couldn't figure out how this happened, I had plenty of battery left when we left the house. And then I remembered something that Dan had told me a long time ago: the cold makes batteries lose their charge more quickly. Merde.

And so, we began out descent sans phone. I know this is a major first world problem, and that people have hiked solo for years and years without technology, but that was my safety blanket. Being my first ever real solo hike with Oswin, I knew that if we ran into trouble all I had to do was call Dan at work and he could come get us. He knows the trail well enough that it wouldn't take long for him to find us, if need be. But now there was no way to get bailed out, no safety blanket, and I was the only one that could get Oswin and I down. 

Dramatic? Maybe. But one thing I hadn't mentioned is that I hate the descent. From any trail. At least on the Jura. Our trails are not highly manicured. They are quite steep. There are lots of loose rocks and slippery leaves. Yesterday there was mud. All things I should have figured out from our ascent, and was not fully grasping until now. I will run up the moutnain for days and days if I can avoid ever having to tip toe my way down. But now there was no choice. It was 3:30 PM and I had a little over an hour before it began to get dark, and no way to call Dan. So down we went. 


I lost my footing a few times, but nothing too serious. It's a gorgeous hike down, but I couldn't enjoy it. I cursed myself for having pushed it too far. For having not started an hour earlier. For having not thought it through. And then we made it to the road. 


And then I remembered another thing: it's 2+ miles home from that point. 


{Blurry but happy}

So we walked. But on a road with street lights. We passed a friend in her car when we were about a mile away, and she asked if we wanted a ride, but at that point I knew we had it. We were too close to call it at that point. We were only hiking for 2 hours and 40 minutes, but it felt like 7 to me. Oswin was a trooper. I am continually blown away by her ability to just go with the flow and have fun in any situation. She is an amazing adventurer, far better than her Mama. 

All in all, it was an over 5 miles hike with my little dragon. I was so tired I could cry, and yet so proud of myself that I could have also cried. I was so afraid to do that hike solo with Oswin, and even though things didn't go as smoothly as I had thought they would, I've got that first one under my belt, and can plan accordingly for future hikes. I know a little more of what to expect, time wise, trail wise. It can be so hard to step outside of our comfort zones, to rely solely on ourselves to make something happen, but when we do it can be the most rewarding thing. 

Today will be a slow day. My legs are so sore that going up or down the stairs is a major feat. We'll be heading to the Christmas Market in St. Jean de Gonville this evening, and hopefully picking up a few handmade ornaments, eating some roasted chestnuts, and having a warm cup of vin chaud or two. Oswin will get to walk around and be around some other little kiddies, which will be nice. I can't think of any other way I'd like to spend tonight.

A la prochaine friends...



  1. What a grand adventure! I hope you were able to have a warm bath afterwards!

    1. A warm bath and big glass of wine for sure Rachel! And Oswin got to watch her show for like 2 hours. Ha! I'm pretty sure I was promising it to her the whole hike down, so I couldn't go back on that offer once we finally did get home. :)