On the second day

September 16th, 2008

We hiked from the Praetschli at 1908 meters to the summit of the Weisshorn at 2653 meters through alpine meadows holding on to the latest blooms of summer, bees search for every last golden dusting of pollen.

Butterflies, two dragonflies dancing over a grassy alpine pond. Weather out of a post card, unbelievable summer weather even though autumn is making her entrance through the reddening leaves of the Alpenrosen, the dried thistle starbursts.

The last hundred meters – in altitude, not distance – is a blasted granite landscape, the aftermath of a rock slide or simple geology. At 2600 meters I am suddenly walking on a dried out riverbed, the rocks sliding and rolling under my feet, not a plant to be seen. This is what it looks like when a glacier recedes, the wasted ground-up trail I do not, cannot, stop to get the camera out of my backpack.

I am at my end these last 30 minutes winding up around the summit, the rocks shifting beneath my each foot fall. Regina, 62 year-old Regina two years out from a hip operation, shames me with her steady methodical pace. She finds her rhythm and never needs a break, never stops to put her hands on the small of her back to widen her ribcage and so expand her lungs and take in deep gulps of fresh cool delicious air. Her friend Isabelle, too, marches on. At the top we slump into the restaurant, order big bowls of hearty Bündnergerstesuppe and glasses of Rivella Rot and take in the view from the picture windows, this view that we earned today. I have been here before, at the peak of the Weisshorn. I have come up with the gondola and skied back down. Today I climbed up on foot, through alpine meadows with tiny treasures and across a wasted moonscape.

And the view, it was more beautiful than I remembered.


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