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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

June 12

June 13th, 2016

June 12
Lugano to Morcote 12km

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Sometimes on American long trails, people arrange transportation support so they can hike a stretch without a full pack. It’s called slack-packing, something I try to avoid as carrying the pack is very much part of walking. Today however, I had a short but very steep leg of the Trans-Swiss Trail, starting in Lugano and ending at Morcote, a tiny village at the tip of a peninsula. Continuing on requires a boat ride across the lake to Brusino. The same boat returns to Lugano, so I decided to leave my pack at the hotel and return by boat in the evening. G–, a Camino peregrino who lives in Milan, took the morning train up for a day hike, and what a hike it was. The day started cloudy, but soon the sun burned through. The temperature and humidity climbed. In this past year of backpacking, I’ve been mostly walking in springtime, but it is now summer in Ticino. The first part of the trail went up the steps alongside a cable-car–for a very long time. By the time it veered off to switchback through the woods, I was completely drenched with sweat. I thought of those many days of soaking wet hiking on the Appalachian Trail in mid-summer. It took several hours to reach to peak above Lugano only to see dozens of tourists looking fairly cool and fresh, wandering the platform by the mountaintop restaurant. Of course they had ridden the cable-car. I’m just glad it did not pass us on the way up as I might have had to resort to the Mount Washington tradition of mooning of the steam-train passengers on their way up. From the peak, the trail followed the ridge for about 8 km, occasionally passing through beautiful mountain villages, until later in the afternoon when it became steps down–steps that seemed an eternity. On the ridge just above Morcote is a magnificent church tower and chapel. As it was Sunday, the doors were open so the path went straight through, coming out by the cemetery before descending to the lake-level town, where we had just enough time for cold drinks and a snack before catching the boat back to Lugano. It was the most beautiful day I have had on the Trans-Swiss trail.

T. Hugh Crawford

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