Last night I finally met Andrea Vogel, the only other person (that we know of) to make the complete border tour of Switzerland.
Or rather, the only person to have done it, since for me the really hard work is just beginning. He completed it on his first try back in 1992.
A slender, enthusiastic, intense, and strong young Swiss back then, he is all of the above now only older. Along with Roland Baumgartner, who has helped me so much with maps and logistics, we had a fine dinner overlooking the beautiful lake in Lucerne, where both men live. But Andrea is originally from the region where I'll be starting my hike tomorrow. He already altered my plans to stay exactly on the border crest of Liechtenstein (tomorrow), which he says is too rocky, steeply up and down, and not worth the effort. Instead he suggests dropping down to the Swiss side and walking trails past the lake he used to fish as a youth (stocked with trout imported from Canada) and past his grandfather's old hunting cabin.
Andrea made the Swiss border tour in an astonishing 82 days, which he'd organized to perfection, complete with local experts to show him the way in most of the tricky places. And he pushed himself extremely hard. At least we'll have the latter in common, though my age, writing responsibilities, and lesser fitness definitely slow me down. You can learn more about Andrea's border trip as well as his African journeys on his website. It helps to know German (which I don't), but the photos under "Expeditionen" are inspirational.
With luck, Andrea will be able to join me at the start, but otherwise we hope to hike together later this summer. He says he benefited greatly in 1992 from the best weather he's ever known. We can't even guess what the weather will bring in 2011. But we can hope!