This was the gorgeous mountain view shortly after leaving Murren yesterday morning. And then – these other brilliant views:
Misty and foggy and even a touch chilly. However, the show – or the hike – must go on, so up I went. Happily it wasn’t actually raining so I did manage to get a few close- in shots as I went up:
Every now and then it seemed that the sun wanted to poke its way through – and then, just as the mists swirled up for a second, down would come a really black cloud.
In a way it was fortunate that I had been up to the pass before. I knew what to expect. I’ve been up to the pass twice before, both times with clouds. I had so hoped that the third time would be a charm and I would get to see what lies on the other side.
It was not to be.
I also noticed that there had been a couple of rather serious rock slides since I was last here making the final climb up the scree trickier than before. There were some rope assists so that was nice.
And there’s the pass:
And there I am at the top after about 4 hours of climbing and ready to head down:
And there’s the trail heading down:
Because of the mists, it just looked and felt like stepping into an abyss. Actually, come to think of it, it was an abyss. The stairs with fairly useless ropes (ankle level? Really?) went on for a long time. And then they stopped and I looked down and saw only a crazy steep down-slope of thick, black scree. Well – what am I supposed to do now? Bum slide? And with no idea where it goes because I can’t see?
And then I had the bright idea to look to my left. Aha! The start of a switchback trail down through the scree. And it got better and better until, at 1 pm I decided I really needed to eat something and sat down on that trail-marked rock wolfing down a couple of cheese-filled buns the hotel had kindly given me gratis.
The rain came 2 seconds after I finished eating. It was one of those misty, drizzly, walking-inside-a-cloud rains that’s just damp and kind of cold. I was pleased to see hotel Golderli at 3.15. So glad to check in. Not much of a hotel actually – a mountain hut/inn but homey and clean with huge down duvets on the beds. I showered scalding hot and crawled under said duvet for the rest of the afternoon.
And that evening ate the best meal I’ve had yet in Switzerland. From soup and salad through main course, every bite was heaven.
I didn’t encounter anyone on the trail all day (one person early on who was heading back to Murren). So of course I had a lot of time to think – or, more accurately, to let my mind wander. I realized, as I watched my thoughts, that I spend a lot of time worrying. I worried about the weather, the steepness, the exposure, my left knee, my feet – quite a nice litany. And I realized that I was doing this thing regardless so what was the point? All this worry was doing was reducing my enjoyment of the experience. And every experience in the mountains is enjoyable. Sure, there may be degrees of enjoyment- maybe no great views, but then surprising little streams up close:
And a flock of sheep and a bunch of goats and the great feeling when the scree ended and meadows appeared again.
Worry is also a thing that pulls me out of the present. It projects into the future and the future is not real yet.
So I spent some time thinking about worry and why I do and strategies for stopping it.
I also thought about what I am doing. A number of people have told me, “have fun!” ( people are always telling people to have fun – it’s just one of those phrases we don’t give a lot of thought to. Goodness knows I am hugely guilty of it). One person commented that it didn’t sound like I was having a lot of fun on this trip.
Well – the point is not and never was to have fun. When I think of fun, I think of riding on a carousel or dancing or playing drunken Scrabble. A trek across the Alps is not about having fun. It’s about an experience; it’s about challenging yourself, being with yourself, stretching yourself, learning more about who you are and what life is. It’s a learning and growing experience.
It is, quite simply, an experience. Yesterday, when I was negotiating the last bit up the Seffinenfurke through slippy, slidey, wet scree where getting a foothold was really tough, I was so not having fun – but I’ll tell you what was happening. I was 100% focussed on the moment. Nothing mattered but my next move. And then, standing at the top of the pass, the feeling of “I made it!”
Yeah – that’s a great feeling. And coming down those silly steps? Yeah – 100% focus.
So it’s all about the experience whether it’s good or bad or scary or happy. It’s life. It’s experiencing life. There is quality in this. There is aliveness. At this moment, that seems to sum it up. There’s more, but I don’t know yet what it is.