‘Didn’t you say that a lot of people die on Swiss mountains every year?’ I squeal, like a tiny scared mouse.
‘Yes,’ Boyfriend answers. ‘But not on mountains like this!’ He exclaims, trying to hide his embarrassment as fellow mountain hikers stare and point at me as I struggle down the side of Grosser Mythen. The plan was to hike to the top of this steep, winding path for an hour and a half, right up to the top, where we would have been met by gorgeous views and a restaurant (a restaurant, up there??). But halfway up I almost had a heart attack. I realised, too late, that my simple footwear was spectacularly inappropriate, and that I needed proper hiking shoes. The path was so steep that I couldn’t keep up with the breathing, and both my head and heart were about to explode. But, more importantly, I kept glancing down at the unfenced, stone-filled, scarily steep path down and thinking,’How the hell will I ever make it back down without tumbling off the side of the mountain????‘
Flashback to the start of the morning, at the foot of the mountain.
‘That’s the mountain we’re going to hike up’, says boyfriend.
My mouth goes wide open. ‘Wow’.
We drive closer. ‘Do you mean that one?’ I say incredulously.
‘Yes,’ boyfriend answers. ‘It’s still the same mountain as before…’
‘Mmm…’ I say.
Then we park, and I look around me trying to check out who’s going to be hiking up with us. Soon, I start feeling pretty smug. I see children. I see a man with a baby turned into a backpack and strapped to his back. I see a few frankly obese people already breathing heavily. I even see a 70-something-year-old. This, I think, will be quite manageable…
…and mid-way up this bloody ‘easy’ mountain, my legs and hands start to shake. I feel that my feet keep slipping. I see that the way up is even steeper and there are no chains or railings whatsoever. I know I can force myself up this blessed mountain, but then I’d have to come down on my butt. I remember there’s a helicopter emergency service for when people get hurt on mountains, or when a silly cow tumbles off the side of one as she’s happily grazing on mountain pastures…but I am not subscribed to it, and simply calling the guys without being subscribed results in you receiving a bill of 5 to 10 thousand Swiss Franks for the scenic helicopter ride. I sit to the side and breathe heavily. An obese woman overtakes me and smiles a kind (or mocking) smile. Several hikers walk by, stare at me with quizzical looks, but do not, thank god, say anything or ask me if I’m ok. I’m an embarrassment to this country, where hiking up steep mountain paths is the national, masochistic weekend pastime.
‘Please let’s go down’ I beg. ‘I’m terrified.’
Boyfriend sulks because he wants to reach the top. All I am thinking is, as I feel my wobbly legs and my throbbing head is’Shit, I’m going to die or, I’m going to sit in this corner here and cry like a maniac as obese, under-aged (or almost no-aged) and toothless old mummies walk briskly past me, looking concerned at the girl on the rock’. Boyfriend offers to walk in front of me so I can hold on to his backpack, but he somehow has the impression that my legs and arms are three metres long…
I had almost climbed the bitch…but I had no intention of killing myself or of accumulating a few thousand Swiss Francs worth of debt in return for a beautiful view, thank you very much. Though, yes, the view was indeed wonderful, even just half way up.
-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @ www.theartofslowtravel.com