I probably should've pondered this sign longer at the outset of my hike of La Dôle. A stone massif in Switzerland's Jura Mountains, La Dole tops out at 1,677 meters above sea level. It's the Jura's second tallest peak, which should've translated in my feeble head as WHAT THE FLIP ARE YOU DOING TROTTING OFF ON THIS HIKE BY YOURSELF?

I probably should’ve pondered this sign longer at the outset of my hike of La Dôle.

A stone massif in Switzerland’s Jura Mountains, La Dole tops out at 1,677 meters above sea level. It’s the Jura’s second tallest peak, which should’ve translated in my feeble head as WHAT THE FLIP ARE YOU DOING TROTTING OFF ON THIS HIKE BY YOURSELF???????? Neil Armstrong’ iconic spaceman image didn’t deter me. I breezed past it not realizing what mayhem I was getting into.

I started my La Dôle hike obsessed with these fields of yellow alpine flowers.

I started my La Dôle hike obsessed with these fields of yellow alpine flowers. Being a dweller at sea level, I don’t often encounter alpine flora and fauna. The early morning light grabbed the landscape and made it pop.

I accessed the La Dôle route from the ski village of St. Cergue, about 30 minutes of walking from the trailhead. These yellow signs are plentiful.

I accessed the La Dôle route from the ski village of St. Cergue, about 30 minutes of walking from the trailhead. These yellow signs are plentiful. But I’m me. I went the wrong way once and backtracked. OF COURSE I’d climbed halfway up the wrong mountain by then.

La Dôle limestone crags burst through the earth's crust and reach toward the sun.

After I went the wrong way, I followed this Swiss gentleman to stay on the route, and look where he led me. La Dôle limestone crags burst through the earth’s crust and reach toward the sun.

I traversed expansive ski runs on my way to the top of La Dôle.

I traversed expansive ski runs on my way to the top of La Dôle. Cows grazed everywhere. Stone fences, stiles, and even barbed wire kept them where they were supposed to be. Still, I made friends with many creatures who make the raw materials for the cheese I’ve been consuming on residency.

I started to get worried as I climbed to La Dôle's saddle. Near the top, I witnessed hikers scrambling along a steep trail.

I started to get worried as I climbed to La Dôle’s saddle. Near the top, I witnessed hikers scrambling along a steep trail with a sheer drop on one side and no handholds on the other. I sat down on a rock, ate some cherries, and forced myself to keep going. I reasoned I’m a seasoned hiker. How bad could it be??? (Cue Jaws theme.)

Finally, I stood on La Dôle's backside. Only one steep scramble stood between me and a 360-degree view.

Finally, I stood on La Dôle’s backside. Only one steep scramble stood between me and a 360-degree view. I inched onto the access trail and made it about halfway before I panicked. My foot slipped, and I almost fell in a spot with little room for error. Then I found another rock, munched more cherries, and asked myself if the panorama was worth risking my life?

I almost talked myself into turning back. I don’t know what propelled me forward. The sensation was similar to the conversations I have with myself over my writing. Why do it when it’s precarious and mutilating and sweaty and rocky and lonesome? When I’ll never stand on the summit and say, “I’m paying my way.”

La Dôle's summit sports a panoramic view of Mont Blanc and the French Alps, with Lake Geneva in the foreground.

I’m glad I forced myself through the last harrowing scramble.

La Dôle’s summit sports a panoramic view of Mont Blanc and the French Alps, with Lake Geneva in the foreground. From my perch, I could see all the way into France beyond Geneva to well around the bend in the lake at Lausanne/Evian. Pictures don’t capture the jaw dropping gorgeousness, but I tried anyway.

And yes, those hiking boots were part of my walk of the Natchez Trace.

In this view from La Dole Mont Blanc lords over Geneva at lake's end on the right.

Mont Blanc lords over Geneva at lake’s end on the right.

This white sphere is probably La Dôle's most iconic feature.

This white sphere is probably La Dôle’s most iconic feature. Swiss weather and tv stations use the massif’s height to broadcast all over Switzerland from towers at the summit.

 Rousseau spent time in the Jura peaks, but I'm closing with his contemporary. JW Goethe climbed La Dôle in the late 1700s

A Geneva native, Rousseau spent time in the Jura peaks, but I’m closing with his contemporary, JW Goethe. He climbed La Dôle in the late 1700s and penned these words:

There are no words to describe the grandeur and beauty of this spectacle.

He was right. I hope you’ll see for yourself someday.

P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at a The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!

The book I’m working on now is a sequel to the others in the Nowhere Series so if you haven’t read the first two – go get them now!

I planned nothing for this hike beyond getting off at the Nyon train station and turning left. Here's pics of my walk from Nyon to Gland.

I set out to hike the Toblerone Trail oblivious to the fact that the first few kilometers contain no toblerones. Much like any other adventure, I planned nothing for this hike beyond getting off at the Nyon train station and turning left. By the time I got to Prangins, I knew I was in trouble. I popped into a market and bought a bottle of water about the time I found a trail sign. My path from Nyon to Gland meandered past the Swiss National Museum, housed in the Chateau de Prangins.

chateau on my way from nyon to gland, switzerland

I guzzled water and snapped a photo of the chateau, thinking I’d stumble into the blasted tank traps any minute.

gated mansions on way from Nyon to Gland, Switzerland

But no. I stumbled through a race and wound up on a narrow residential street. Gated mansions were everywhere. I feared they’d throw my sweaty butt off the street.

green blackberries on way from nyon to gland, switzerland

By this point, I was starving. I didn’t eat breakfast before I left Trélex, nor did I pack a picnic. These green blackberries looked tempting.

prangins chapel from nyon to gland, switzerland

Villages usually have one church. I walked past Prangins chapel on my route.

lake geneva on way from nyon to gland, switzerland

Had I known people swam in Lake Geneva, I would’ve brought a suit. This public swimming area cost a mere 3 francs. By this point, I was ready to take a dip in my clothes.

hiking sign on way from nyon to gland, switzerland

Hiking signs like this one are plentiful along the route. I wasn’t sure I was on the Toblerone Trail, but at least I was where people were supposed to be hiking.

La Dole in Switzerland

A view of my next ambitious hiking project. La Dôle is a mountain in the Swiss Jura. I want to climb it while I’m here.

golf sign on way from nyon to gland, switzerland

Seriously, I thought I’d never find those dang toblerones. Plus. I didn’t plan to dodge golf balls.

I did finally find the Toblerone Trail!

swiss flag on way from nyon to gland, switzerland

On my way back to Nyon, I found this Swiss flag blowing in the breeze.

Vineyards abound in the Vaud region of Switzerland

Vineyards abound in the Vaud region of Switzerland. Across Lake Geneva, one can explore French lake villages and the French Alps. Mont Blanc is covered by clouds.

P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!

I haven’t hiked since last summer. During my Welsh residency, I bought a couple of hiking books, tried to follow them, and still got lost more often than not. Since I feared I wasn’t strong enough for a long hike, I decided to hike part of Switzerland’s Toblerone Trail.

The Toblerone trail isn't a trail constructed from chocolate bars. In fact, the chocolate got its name from the trail.

No, it isn’t a trail constructed from chocolate bars. In fact, the chocolate got its name from the trail. The Swiss built a series of tank-repelling fortifications during World War II. These concrete dragons teeth weigh 9 tons each (source: Wikipedia) and were designed to thwart a German tank invasion. At roughly five feet tall, no tanks could power over them.

The Swiss built a series of tank-repelling fortifications on the Toblerone Trail during World War II. These concrete dragons teeth weigh 9 tons each and were designed to thwart a German tank invasion.

The start of the Toblerone Line.

Today, the line starts near Lake Geneva in Gland and goes up to Bassins in the Swiss Jura, almost 14 kilometers one way. I didn’t hike the whole thing, because by the time I found the first set of teeth, I was about to collapse. My map claimed the line started at the train station in Nyon, 5 kilometers away from Gland. I wandered along the rail line, through apartment blocks, across a soccer field, past a castle and public swimming hole, through a golf course, and FINALLY found the dang toblerones.

Enjoy the photos of the Toblerone Trail. I almost fainted to get them!!

The Swiss allowed the Toblerone Line to return to nature after the war. Spur trails lead from the main path for those who want to get up close.

The Swiss allowed the Toblerone Line to return to nature after the war. Spur trails lead from the main path for those who want to get up close.

World War II bunkers also stand sentinel near the Toblerone Line. Most are abandoned, like this one.

World War II bunkers also stand sentinel near the Toblerone Line. Most are abandoned, like this one.

Signs like this are abundant along the Toblerone route. Still, I almost went the wrong way here.

Signs like this are abundant along the Toblerone route. Still, I almost went the wrong way here.

Have you been to see the Toblerone Trail? What’s a hard trail that you have hiked?

P.S. Wondering what I’m doing in Switzerland? I’m at a The Trelex Residency in Maison Binet!