Monday, July 21, 2008

Part 2 - Hiking Adventure: Graechen (4.1 hours)

Continued from PART 1....speaking of which, amidst the fear, it was exactly at this point in the hike that strangely my feet became the topic of the day...

Topic of the day, my sport shoes.

Teetering on a rock, seriously contemplating calling the choppers, we came upon a couple, only the second and third life forms we had seen in several hours, and the passing conversation went like this:

Small talk between couple and Kurt... (Note: I could not hear it but I imagine it like this... )

Couple (they are one in this case): Gruetzi miteinander. Isn't it a beautiful day? Keep going! You are about 2/3's of the way there. Perfect conditions.

Kurt: Gruetzi miteinander. Oh great. Yes, I am loving this weather. I hike quite regularly. I have calves of steel.

Couple: You seem to be well prepared and equipped, but... (this is where I come within hearing distance and they stop to stare clearly at me and my shoes) oh, I would not climb this mountain with tennis shoes. Oh goodness. That is not safe. That is 'Lebens gefahrlich' (such a great German phrase that was created to evoke fear, it means life endangering...)! You could break a leg like that.

(This is where Kurt finds out that I speak high German pretty fluently and I can understand enough Swiss German now to have a panic attack in the Alps...)

Me, perhaps on the verge, then again, yes, screaming in German: Um, YEAH!!! I KNOW! THEY LIED TO ME. (I actually think it was more like, "THEY LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIED TO ME!") They said that this would be a CASUAL HIKE... on PAVEMENT. They said it would be O-KAY to wear these shoes. Now.... I am here. What am I supposed to do now?!

Kurt: No I didn't!? I told you to wear hiking shoes. I told them to be prepared!

COUPLE, actually the nice gentleman of the couple, the frau was done with me and my obvious stupidity, recognizing the panic on my face: Oh, the path is not that difficult. It is ok. You will be ok. There is nothing really dangerous on this hike. It is just that you need more supportive shoes. We don't mean to scare you.

Me: Oh, ok. Thanks. It's not much further.

Mann: No... no... But you do have a cell phone right? If you need... help.

Me: Um... yes. Thanks...

Mann: But don't worry. We don't mean to scare you. You are not in danger. Have a nice day.

Regardless of his consolation, this is how I felt:

Angry Jessica.

Surrrrrrrrrrre, I thought... I will be just fine. It is rough terrain but can't be dangerous, right?

But they were right... I had the wrong shoes. I was ill equipped. Luckily for all involved, after that little chat, it did get easier. So much so in fact that even small children and dogs could have traversed the path. Oh wait, that's right, this was the point when some four legged friends and a very fit senior citizen crossed our path making me feel completely inadequate and childish... So I sucked it up for at least 4 minutes and tried to get a grip.

The dogs... don't they look like they are mocking me?

Here they all are... mocking me...

Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the children that passed by later, running down the mountain and giggling in fact, but it was a good sign and preview of the good conditions that followed. In fact, the remaining 2 hours of the hike went really well. We finally made it to the easier path and a clearing where an excellent view awaited us. And I sucked it up. I sucked it up big time.

The gorgeous view.

The wide, but steep, but safe path.

Kurt also allowed me to persuade him to take the broad, although steep as hell, ski path up the remainder of the mountain as opposed to the teetering rock slide cliff face.

Here we are on the path next to the rocky cliff face. But it is safe, and my shoes like it.

The weather held out all morning and afternoon, but the further we climbed the thinner and colder the air became. Around this point, all I could do was set small goals for myself to get another 20 steps up the mountain. I told Jace to keep in front of me so that his sweet, strong, hiker bum would provide incentive. ;)

Around the 3 and a half hour point, the ski lift came into sight and I started to sing 'You are so beautiful to me' in my head and 'Could you be, the most beautiful SKI LIFT in the world... can't you see...' Thank goodness I wasn't singing out loud as sound carries up there and I think the mountain goats would have not been impressed.

This is where happy Jessica made her appearance, near the lift. Like this:

Finally, happy Jessica.

And the mountain goats rejoiced! Yeah!

At the top of the mountain, everyone - ok just me - was happy to be alive and well!

And we were all friends again. THE END.

Actually, that wasn't the end... there was still the three hour drive back home..!

Regardless of all the mix ups, I think it was a great day. I can't wait to (buy some proper shoes and) do it again soon (and by 'it' I mean a much smaller and less challenging mountain somewhere within a hour's drive)!

Favorite conversations of the day:

Me to Jace: Hey babe. Do you think that there could be a rock slide while we are up here?
Jace: No, I don't think so. These rocks have probably been here forever.
Me: Yeah, but they had to get down to this point somehow, right?
Jace: Um, well yeah. Good point. (Pace quickens...)

Kurt to group: Breath in deep. Breath very, very deep. It will help to give you POWER.
Me: (after 5 seconds of deep breathing) HACK... COUGH.... HACK...
Jace: Are you ok babe?
Me: Oh yeah, I think I just breathed a very BIG bug, very DEEP.
(Now that gave me power....)

Kurt to the group: I think once we get to the restaurant, we should go to the very top.
Jace: That is another 2 hours, right? I don't know, Kurt.
Kurt: We can do it! You just need to be motivated.
Jessica: Kurt, have you heard the expression 'don't push your luck?'
Kurt: (Silence)
Jessica: That means NO.

In the car on the way home...
Ingo: I was really hungry on the way back down, but there were so many flies around me on the way down, I think they might have sensed my impending death, that I couldn't get my sausage out. They really wanted my sausage.
(He meant his German sausage... er, I mean his wurst... ok, I'll stop now...)

Also in the car:
Ingo: So I was hiking alone for like 2 hours, and I had to pee, but I knew as soon as I got it out there would be like a family coming around the corner and I would be embarassed. But after a long time, I saw no one and so I thought, heck, I will do it now. And just at that moment, a whole family and a couple, and some dogs came. And I was like, ahhhh, and I had to hurry to put it away!!! (Same dogs as above!!!)

I look forward to your comments! And recommendations on EASY hiking adventures near Zurich!


Susan May said...

I'm new to your blog and really enjoy it. Good photos of your hike! I'm also guilty of taking hikes in my "trail sneakers" here in Switzerland ... they don't quite cut it! This entry was very entertaining - I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

Jessica said...

Hello Susan May! Thanks for the comment. I am glad you found my blog... yeah I am going to need to buy some good hiking shoes that cover the ankles and then I will be on my way to becoming a hiking queen! Can't wait.

There are some great photos of Vienna I have to post this week too so it will be a fun week of photos! Till then!

stacy said...

Try the Seealpsee in Appenzell --- there is a beautiful lake, cliffside chapel and inn, and really lovely views of the Säntis mountain. You can walk up to the top and then take the cable car (seilbahn) down if you feel like it! We did it the other way around (cable car up, walk down) however it actually was really painful on the ankles because it was quite steep in parts, so I recommend climbing up rather than down. It's a short hike however, so it's nice to take a picnic to spend by the lake before you do the 2nd half of the hike. And I too was passed by pregnant ladies (!), children, and old people... damn fit Swiss people! haha

Jessica said...

Yes, Stacy... thank you! That sounds right up my alley! I will have to put it onto the books. Appenzell is also not far, as I have drive by the signs advertising the cheese if I know the place. ;)

mrsmac said...

oh stacy, that sounds wonderful! i'm going to have to try that as well.

jess- glad you survived!

stacy said...

mrsmac - the hike I listed is not stroller friendly, just a warning!!! And carrying a child up a Swiss hill/mountain...urg....


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