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Maybe you've already trekked the AT, the PCT, and an alphabet soup of other thru-hikes. I know. Those simply whet your appetite for more. So now you're looking for something a little more exotic, of course with more than its fair share of challenges. Well, you're in luck.

Recently we heard about five new trails established across the Alps. The Via Alpina loops from Italy's Adriatic Coast to Monte Carlo on the Mediterranean. By combining a network of pre-existing long distance routes, the Via Alpina traverses the continent along the backbone of the Alps for an amazing 5,000 kilometers or more. Designed as a European cultural itinerary, you can experience jaw-dropping Alpine beauty, culture, nature, ecology, history and cuisine in whatever region you choose - for as long as you can get away.

I share your sweet addiction for what I call "slow, deliberate travel." For me, it was born on the wild steppes of Tibet as my wife and I hiked 1,100 kilometers from Lhasa to Kathmandu - and it's become my passion. So I wanted to be among the first to hike the Via Alpina's entire length across eight countries: from Trieste, Italy through Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France, and finally down to Monaco. I hoped to descend to lower altitudes in the French Alps-Maritime before snow hid the trail in autumn.

It was bound to be more difficult than any other I'd ever attempted. That was an understatement. Each and every day meant climbing at least 3,000 feet from valley to mountain hut where I'd sleep.

Still, as a veteran of ten long-distance thru-treks, the Via Alpina sounded perfect; a physical and mental challenge combined with the best way to discover the Alps. I already knew it was an area of more than cheese and gnomes. In my mind's eye, I envisioned it as a European Appalachian Trail - only with better food and wine. Even lite-trekkers travel on their stomachs, and sausage, fresh alpenkäse, corn polenta, and wine sounded a little better than peanut butter, tinned meat, and beer.


  • Introduction
  • From a Holiday to a Temporary Stay
  • Support Team
  • The Trek
  • Walking Jazz
  • Sweet Dreams
  • Skivvies and Schnapps

# WORDS: 2430
# PHOTOS: 13

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