Another Sunday and another of the walks in the mountains I’ve been enjoying so much! I wasn’t going to write about this walk, but the sheer beauty of the place and its uniqeness compared to my other walks convinced me that it’s worth mentioning and certainly well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
We started off on a paved path in Gressoney St. Jean, which soon became a sandy road. The path runs past these beautiful houses with their resplendent flowers and wooden walls, so typical of this Walzer valley tucked away in the north of Italy. The path rose quite quickly into a larch forest, becoming narrower and more tortuous, the shady trees and light breeze providing a welcome coolness in contrast to patches of bright sun.
Once again, my attention was captured by the flowers… and the butterflies! So many bright jewels flitting by!
This was the day I learnt that my companions weren’t infallible. We took a bit of a detour because no one could remember with certainty which path we had to take. Was it 11A or 11B? We took the 11B path for ten or 15 minutes before deciding that we should go back and take the 11A. We climbed higher and higher with some debate going on and a fair amount of questioning of passers by. When we reached a meadow and stone huts, consensus was reached that we should have stayed on the other path but we would be able to find tbe path and join up with the other one. So we struck out across the meadow, passing the huts and climbing the hill behind them, looking for the path. Fortunately, the path became clear as we neared the top and we were off again, stopping briefly to munch on wild blueberries, exquisite little bursts of flavour such as I’ve never had before.
Nothing could be better than getting a late Saturday night message that says, “Do you want to go walking in the mountains with us tomorrow? ” I will admit, I hesitated before replying because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It never is, but the feeling of achievement when you get to your destination and the beauty of the walk is well worth the effort.
This was only my second walk with snow shoes and the first was relatively easy, with long, flat stretches and a small climb in altitude. Not so for the second time! We stopped in a parking area of the village and had a short, steep walk to the start of the trail. I was already tired and I hadn’t even put on my snowshoes! When we started walking, the going was relatively flat and open. it was a beautiful, sunny day and though the air was crisp, the sun warmed us as we walked. Around us, the snow lay deep and heavy on the fields, sparkling iln the morning sun. I’m always amazed at how soft and powdery snow can be when it’s fresh, and the snow was about as fresh as you could get.
We started out eagerly, following a narrow trail forged by the early birds. Around us, there was a profound quiet such as you only get when the snow lies thick on the ground. An occasional soft thud signalled the falling snow from an overhead branch. The only other sound was my deep breaths and the chattering of the leaders, who obviously had no problem with shortness of breath.
As I walked, my snow shoes collected the snow underfoot and seemed to get heavier and heavier. I had to stop regularly to tap my feet together and dislodge the snow. Just when I was getting to the end of my tether, we came towards a group of houses where we stopped for a short rest. Grateful for a drink, I admired the view before my friends chivvied me along the path again. Imagine my dismay when someone said, “That was the easy part. Now the hard part starts!”
My heart sank. I briefly considered telling them I would wait at the houses for them. If it weren’t for the fact that someone was sure to volunteer to stay behind with me and I didn’t want to spoil the walk for anyone, I might have done that. As it was, I bit my tongue and slogged on. The gradient increased steeply and we passed through a forested area, zigzagging sharply in order to climb quickly.
A number of times I thought I couldn’t lift my legs another step, but it’s amazing what you can do when you have no other choice. I slogged on slowly with Lino behind me, encouraging me all the way and finally reached the lake where the others were already pulling out sandwhiches and flasks. I loved the applause they gave me! I did it! I grabbed my lunch and sank to the ground for a well-deserved rest.
The break was all too short and before long we were heading down the trail again. Why is it that you seem to move so much faster on the homeward trail? My biggest problem was trying not to slip or fall on the steep slope and my knees and thighs shouted their displeasure at what I was doing. At one point I did slip. I put out a hand to save myself and, plof, my arm sank into the snowdrift up to my elbow. My face came up with snow all over my glasses and my knees were covered in snow too. Pity no one was close enough to take a photo. It made me smile though and when I told the others they said that everyone falls at least a few times.
When I arrived home, I could hardly lift my feet to get up the stairs. Would I do it again? You bet!
Happy New Year everyone! May 2018 be a year of love, success, joy and peace for all of you.
An Old Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
Usually I can’t wait to finish the year and start a new one, in the hope that the new one will somehow be better than the old. This year was different. At the start of 2017, I made a “good memories jar” and throughout the year, I added slips of paper with special memories of all the good things that had happened to me.
This was the cover of my jar, with images of things that are special to me.
Last night, I opened the jar.
And throughout the evening, we chose a slip and read it to each other. So saying goodbye to 2017 was a very pleasant trip down memory lane and 2018 was welcomed in with hope and joy. This was the best New Year’s Eve ever!
What New Year’s Eve traditions do you have? Share them with us in the comments.
It’s Multiple Sclerosis Month. I have a brother and a friend who have been affected by this awful disease. My longing for them is that reasearch will take a leap forward and treatment will become more effective and have less side effects. Let’s honour and support all those whose daily reality is coloured by MS.
This poem was inspired by…. Actually, I can’t find the blog that inspired it. The intervening days between reading and writing have wiped it from my memory. I do remember that it suggested writing in the tone of the emotion that you fear most. Of course, this is a little different. Since I can’t link to the original inspiration, I’m going to link to the Jacke Wilson Blog because his Beatles prompts are so amazing. Thanks Jacke.