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Deirdre Peck and the walk across Switzerland

In July 1982, Deirdre Joy Peck, age 14, was visiting in Switzerland and joined her Dad and friend Jane on a walk across Switzerland, west to east, which, however, proved unsuccessful in the end but lots of fun along the way.

Starting out from Leysin, Switzerland, 15 June 1982, a pause along the roadway above Les Diablerets.

A Day 1 camp below the Col du Pillon, with a science fiction novel and the incomparable International Herald Tribune.

Day 2 camp above Gsteig, not far from the Krinnenpass (La Chrine) on a somewhat rainy day.

Deirdre and the omnipresent science fiction novel

Day 3 etc.: A pleasant camp in the Kuhtungel, high up between Gstaad and Lenk, which however turned into a sejour of a few days in the teensy tent with a few carrots and a bite of chocolate when the weather turned abruptly bad; day 3 passed into day 4, in a teensy tent.

Deirdre supine with her science fiction novel, Jane with her book, before the weather turned awful

Deirdre and her novel, or possibly another novel, before the weather turned really bad and we tried to wait it out.

Day 5: DeeDee backlit whilst crossing the Dungelpass with her Dad, 19 June 1982, having spent long enough in a teensy tent in the Kuhtungel.

Day 5 camp near Buhlberg above Lenk on the way to Adelboden over the Hahnenmosspass, another rainy day

Day 6, over the Hahnenmoospass to Adelboden -- up the waterfall path from Unter dem Birg to Engstligenalp, 20 June 1982
Setting up camp at Engstligenalp, as a storm threatens, and the kind lady at dinner in the berghotel instructed us to knock on her door if it got really bad.

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Friend Jane sets up the teensy tent, as another storm sweeps in, in the high hanging valley of Engstligenalp above Adelboden.

Day 7, DeeDee trudging up from Engstligenalp towards the Tschingellochtighorn (2640m) just a little too early in the hiking season for comfortable snowfree walking.

Friend Jane leading up out of Engstligenalp, on Day 7 of the cross-Switzerland hike, over the Tschingellochtig (2640m), high above Adelboden and Kandersteg.

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Just near the Tschingellochtig pass, Jane helps young Deirdre with some equipment adjustments. (Summertime views of this same spot fully a quarter of a century later can be found here.)

Deirdre backing down the far side of the Tschingellochtig pass, with Jane spotting from below. Not long after that, she took a fall and a long slide down a creek gulley and gave her father a prolonged series of heart attacks, but ended up, after breaking through into the creek, only with soggy trousers.

Down from the Tschingellochtig pass into the Inner Uschene valley towards Eggeschwand, thinking about dinner, especially as it's been raining all day.

Lunch break

Camp near Eggeschwand at the end of Day 7

Day 8 camp, past Kandersteg, by Giesene. Still mostly raining.
Day 9, hikers contemplating crossing the Giesegrat near the Sattelhorn, and down past Obere Gumpel

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On Day 9 Deirdre descends from the Giesegrat (2310m) near the Sattelhorn.

Day 10: Hikers, once over the Rengg Pass (1800m), lunching near the Obersuldbach (1262m), and heading next for the Renggli Pass (1880m), like being on a self-propelled rollercoaster.

Mixing up a nice stew with herbs

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Day 10: Deirdre's dad trying to shave in some fairly cold water, Obersuldbach.

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On still another stormy day, Day 12 of the hike, in fact, Deirdre descends eastward from the Sustenpass as clouds blow in and out, and all about.

We were, in fact, way off course by this time, thanks to Dad's primitive map-reading, but worse was to come.

Looking wet and bedraggled near Sustenpass (2259m) on 26 June 1982, Deirdre Peck shows courage and stamina for a 14-year-old from sea level in the USA. About five minutes later, her Old Dad went for a different very fast long hike downward and ended the party's cross-Switzerland hike only about 60% completed.

700 feet down, oops. A Swiss-German guy heard him whizzing past upsidedown and pulled him out from under a waterfall and conveyed him to some medical assistance. Oh, man! -- many broken bones (including his head in two places, an elbow turned into paste, rocks in the kneecaps, and several ribs practicing up for regular future breaks over the next couple of decades), post-traumatic stress disorder (for a few days), oh well that's not so bad, but he wasn't to go near alcohol for months and months. That's fairly serious.

The Swiss-German guy, whose family Dr Peck had very nearly swept off the mountain in his fall, marched stolidly up 200 metres in the fog and carried Deirdre down for us.

Here, at the end of August 1982, is the scene of the old Dad's vertical hike of evil memory.

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In late summer 1982, Deirdre, Dad, and Jane visited Ballenberg, the wonderful "open-air museum" of traditional Swiss architecture, near Brienz.

At Ballenberg, traditional old buildings are being brought along from all over the country and reconstructed using old methods of joining, thatching, etc. -- farms, barns, forges, town houses, granaries, you name it -- and laid out in a park modeled on the map of Switzerland, so that characteristic architecture of all the regions can be seen, and walked through, integrally, with people practicing all the old crafts, from cheese-making, iron-mongering, lace-sewing, rug-weaving, ice-cream-selling, etc.

DeeDee and Dad in beautiful downtown Schwyz, August 1982, end of the summer. Then DeeDee was off to the insalubrious USA once again, and in the end didn't make it through. She was an astonishing person, in her own way, and her courage on this hike proves that.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 24 April 2002, revised 8 October 2008, 07 June 2013.

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