“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and land.”
(Walt Whitman, Leaves of grass)
We live in a turbulent and unstable world. What was yesterday isn’t there today anymore, the volatility of climate change, the stock market, terroristic attacks, relationship problems, work, traffic, health and the environment can easily make you so much stressed. Sometimes life seems to be an assault on your mental health.
But it´s finally weekend. Mountains are calling me and I must go. I woke up at 4 am in this unusually cold October morning. It´s dark outside, Munich is sleeping, I am ready to take a new adventure. I need something challenging this Saturday. I need to get out of the city searching for a reason. As usual I have an abundant breakfast and then prepare all the staff I am going to need for my daily mission in the nature. Music in my ear and ready to go. The travel is a long one from Munich to my final destination. It will take 3 hours and half but I know the reward will come later in the day. It´s going to be a very adventurous day on the Alps. 2 hours and half and finally I am in Oberstdorf, a lovely village liying within a valley, 815 m above sea level in the middle of the Alps in the Allgäu. It is surrounded by mountains which are up to 2,600 m high, and the three different altitudes make Oberstdorf very attractive. I really love this place and I have so good memories from the beautiful vacation we had here last Easter that I feel the need to go there once again to explore further this beautiful area. I still haven´t reached my final destination: Birgau in beautiful Trettachtal valley, I need a bus and I am getting impatient waiting for it.
I step out of the bus at the edge of the Trettach river that gives the name to this beautiful valley. Fresh autumn air fills my lungs. Different air. I can smell the conifers. That´s what I was looking for. I let it fill my lungs to their bottom and my blood carries then products around my body and I feel a part of life here as the smells are taken into my being. Allgau Olfactoryscape.
Everytime I take a journey to mountains is always a kind of checkup on where I am as a human being and as a man. Something is changing in my life and must be open to this change. When we explore the world with an analytical mind, we explore ourselves. We try to find out what we like and what we don’t like, what we stand for and what we are against. We can see where we are, our strengths and our weak points. This poses the problem many of us are faced with at this very moment: do we improve, get stronger and truer to ourselves, or we lose ourselves trying to adapt to society? I want let myself changed by this stupid society, happens what it happens. I don´t really care!
I keep on walking and little by little the path gets completely white. It has been snowing a lot here recently. There is 15cm of fresh snow on the ground.
I smell the air and how it changes as each step towards the top I make, open standing water, trickles over the ice, all changing the air enough for me to sense it. The smells carried on the wind, birds flying over me. I can hear the falls, water over the surface, water under the surface, water falling into a hole.
Amazing! Perfect ice! Perfect temperature! And all of this suddenly after a neverending summer. I am without any other humans. enjoying this treasure alone! But somehow I feel observed, I can hear some noise above me time by time. Now I can see I am not alone….
I am a person who climbs. It is what I do. I climb through my life, I never had an easy one. Always moving upward to a new perspective. I do this because I have learned to meet the challenges life presents and I accept them with passion to come to a good resolution. This makes suffer but also brings growth. Like the forest trees I am growing and climbing upward supported by nature. My climb as a man often requires stillness and physical solitude. But then I release my self concept which is precisely what changes when I grow. I become a different person.
Wow! So beautiful is up here! Two huge peaks just standing in front of me and the sun shining high! So brilliant! I feel incredibly big and incredibly small all at the same time. Big in the act of climbing these tall creatures confidently and the perspective that each step rewards me with wonderful views. Yet I feel small because of the grander of the landscape.
The path is getting steeper and steeper. I reach a difficult spot in the climb.
I slow down to consider the solution to the problem. There is silence as I concentrate. There is fear, so I change it to respect. It wants me to climb over to the left so that is where I go. When I move over, all becomes easier again. Peaceful. I reach my highpoint for the day. Now my eyes can see all the peaks around, all the valleys. It was not easy but I am thankful I am here,
The walk down from my high point requires great care. The snow is perfect for snowmen. I roll a ball down a slope and it creates a big wheel. The solution is patience and awareness. I concentrate on each step I take in this exposed place and I take the needed time to carefully craft my descent with my crampons. But here it is a problem, directions are wrong. I must go up again to Rappensee and go down on the other side. Damn! It´s already 15,30 and I have not more than 2 hours daylight! I must rush even if I am tired. My breath gets shorter, I can distinctly hear my heart beating faster. I am up again on the Rappensee just in time to enjoy this last beautiful view. Sun is painting the mountains in red with its rays.
It´s late. I must rush and take some risks running down the mountain. I arrive at the bottom much faster than I thought it would have been possible, the training I had last month helped me a lot, I wouldn´t been able to make it otherwise.Now I am finally relaxed.
I walk back along the path next to the river. I lost the last bus bringing me back to civilization. I see a tractor carrying huge trunks along the road. I cross the small river very fast and I attract driver´s attantion. I climb the trunks and just sit on them until Oberstdorf. The funniest and craziest hitchhike I had so far in my life.
High above me are all places that I have been so lucky to travel on today, the peaks, the falls, the woods. I feel enriched in my experience. I discovered what this mountain was today and what I am today.
At this moment I realize that my person is not what I have but what I have done and what I will do with my life. Knowing this brings me serenity.