Via Alpina Hikers: A New Breed of Stamp Collectors
As I’m hiking the Via Alpina, a 230-mile trek through the Swiss Alps, I’ve picked up a new hobby—stamp collecting. No, I’m not collecting postage stamps. I’m carrying a Via Alpina Hiking Passbook, a passport-sized document where I collect my stamps signifying completion of each of the 38 way-points on this legendary hiking trail through the Swiss Alps.
Stopping by the Stamp Boxes
It’s become a ritual as I hike each stage of the Via Alpina. I walk into town at the end of the day’s hike and immediately make my way to the stamp station. The stamp station is a metal box placed in a convenient location like the train station, a hotel in the center of town, or at the lift station near the trail. It’s a stainless-steel box about 15cm high and about 12cm wide. I open the drop-down door and inside is a self-inking rubber stamp for each stage of the Via Alpina. Some stamp boxes have two and even three stamps inside, since there are not yet stamp boxes at the remote passes.
The location of all the stamp boxes can be found on the Switzerland Tourism website.
Colorful and unique stamps
Each stamp is a roundish insignia featuring a unique design. For example, Altdorf features William Tell, Grindelwald has the North Face of the Eiger, Meiringen a meringue, and Gstaad a goat. Additionally, there are three special stamps, one for the longest stage (Altdorf to Engelberg), one for the highest pass (Hohtürli at 2778), and finally, one for completing all stages.
The Prize—A Via Alpina Certificate
Once I filled my hiking passbook with all 38 stamps, I ordered my certificate online. The certificate is proof of a tremendous achievement and a keepsake reminder of my summer on the trail through the Swiss Alps. But ultimately, the real reward is the joy of the journey—having the opportunity to cross the Swiss Alps on foot and enjoy the amazing mountain scenery, the wildflowers, wildlife, and create memories I’ll keep forever.
Read about Greg Witt’s, Chief Adventure of Alpenwild’s, journey on the Via Alpina: