Making It to the Top: A Hiker’s Journey

20 Jan

Bonjour from Geneva!

It has been a whirlwind of a first week abroad – there has been cheese; there has been chocolate; there has been wine…then there was wine again…and then again…

Wine is cheaper than water in Geneva, so you can see the logic in this lifestyle.

Plus, it’s not wrong if it’s European.

After a week of late nights and *indulgence,* a bunch of us decided it was time to schedule a date with Mother Nature and go for a hike.

Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that the brave, athletic leaders of our group felt like going for a hike, so a couple of us decided to tag along as a means to sweat out our toxins and “get our lives in order.”

Yes, forcing ourselves to climb up a GIANT mountain was the only way to accomplish these two goals. There has been THAT much wine.

For those of us whose goals included detoxification and sobriety, the hike was slightly overwhelming.

As it turns out, simply wearing a pair of spandex pants and hiking boots does not guarantee that one will be good at hiking. This was a surprising and slightly upsetting thing to learn because I’ve always been under the impression that “dressing for success” equates to invincibility and superhuman strength.

Which I now know it does not, since my furry gloves and practical yet fashionable UGG boots did little to ease my pain.

Our journey started after we nearly missed the bus to the Swiss border and had to sprint to catch it.

A solid start.

As we approached the mountain we would climb, I debated faking food poisoning from the microwaved cheese sandwich I’d eaten for lunch and high tailing it back to the bus stop. I wouldn’t have had to fake much, though, considering I made a cheese sandwich in the microwave

Here is the beast that faced us:

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Oh. Shit.

My mind was racing with questions as the mountain drew nearer: would there be bears? Would I slip on ice? Would there be a snack shack at the summit? If so, did I have enough francs to at least purchase a chocolate bar? Would I have my choice between milk and dark chocolate?

It is important that every serious hiker consider these things before attempting to scale a mountain.

When it became clear that there was no turning back, we sucked it up and pushed onward.

I tried not to feel afraid… mountains can smell fear.

But then I saw this:

 Image

In case you can’t read it, it says “DANGER.”

The Danger Rock was not exactly a ringing endorsement for hiking. Plus, the fact that someone had taken the time to write “DANGER” in both English and French meant that no one was safe.  

Gulp.

After we passed the Danger Rock, the first leg of the trip didn’t seem that bad! We were laughing and happy and singing annoying, repeat-after-me camp songs about giant cows:

 Image

Doesn’t that look fun?

(Please note, this part of the hike was through a town, along a flat, paved surface…hence our enthusiasm.)

When the sidewalk ended, we were in for a rude awakening.

What followed can only be described as big mountain, small lung capacity-induced delirium:

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This was definitely a low point – Alex and Selby and I had run out of camping songs to sing, and we (I) were (was) sweating like pigs (a pig). 

Would we continue? Could we continue?

Suddenly, Mano walked up to us and announced that it “smelled like farts.” We doubled over onto the ground and laughed until we cried (and peed our pants).

As with most things in life, a little fart humor is all you need to turn a situation around.

We knew we had to continue our trek…

…for about ten minutes, when we decided snacks were our only hope of survival.

Our first-in-command, Postyn (AKA “Coach”), had come prepared with an assortment of meats and cheeses! And Raymond had chocolate covered espresso beans in his bag!

Let me tell you, those espresso beans could bring about world peace. They are that good.

Luckily, we would not have to resort to cannibalism…this was especially great news for me because I’m pretty sure I would have been the first to go. 

And by “pretty sure” I mean that several people told me I would be the first to go because I kept making nervous jokes about falling off cliffs and dying from poisonous berries.

People deal with fear in different ways.

After our deluxe snacks, we had a second wind! We started looking at this whole “hiking” thing in a totally new light.

We felt increased appreciation for everything around us:

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Please note the tender, loving way Selby is admiring her walking stick. (Which she named Norbert. I named mine Herman, and Alex dubbed hers, “La Même Chose” – a classic French name.) Our walking sticks were the only things separating us from falling into an abyss of doom and muddy leaves.

Unfortunately, La Même Chose didn’t quite make the journey, and Alex had to resort to killing trees:

 Image

So I guess there were some things for which this hike didn’t give us increased appreciation…

Nevertheless, we finally made it to the top.

Actually, we made it to a nice resting spot near the top and decided to call it a day:

 Image

 The view was BEAUTIFUL. And majestic.

Some might even call it “beautifully majestic.”

When we finally got down to the bottom, we were proud and energized. Still delirious, but in the best of ways.

We had climbed a mountain!

Image

(Please note that Raymond is triumphantly holding his bag of espresso beans in the air because he knows they saved our lives.)

Could anything ever top this? Would we be able to re-assimilate into society, despite our enlightened minds and invigorated souls?

Yes. I think we assimilated juuuussttt fine:

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Turns out that next to fart jokes, a giant baguette is really all you need in life.

Geneva, we have arrived. 

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