Already then, trails were created to make it easier for herdsmen, smugglers and merchants to go about their business, as a result of which we've inherited a dense network of paths. Nothing much has changed over the years. What has changed is the motive: most people these days treat walking as an end in itself and as a way of being in nature.
In other words, what needs to be done before people can walk on an official footpath? The aim is to reach a mountain hut or to access an alp with cattle. The list of public authorities, landowners and administrative bodies that have to be consulted to create a new path is long.
In spring, when the snow melts, remedial work on the footpaths has to be done. The damage caused by snow and frost has to be assessed and repaired during the first inspection. The work in spring consists of clearing leaves and broken branches, as well as clearing the paths of earth slips and avalanches that have occurred during the winter. The grass is mowed between May and August. If it rains a lot in spring, the vegetation grows disproportionately fast and the paths are soon overgrown. Building work typically takes place in autumn: the region's mild climate and the cleared paths make it possible to carry out the larger tasks.
Next time you take one of these paths, spare a thought for all the hard work that's been put into it.
95% of the paths in our region were created by previous generations long ago to get from one place to another. It requires an immense amount of effort to maintain a network of footpaths 1400-plus kilometres long.