As part of my Fab Fifty Life, I am committed to doing and seeing things only a few short years ago I would never have even considered. I am committed to being a person who is open and aware and living everyday as if it’s my last.
Today, we did that. We left our warm and cozy bed at Olle and Maria’s Bed and Breakfast in Gimmelwald, Switzerland, in time to make the first cable car at 7:30am to the top of the peak of the Schilthorn. The weather was spectacular and our host Olle insisted we go as early as possible, as the peak often fogs in shortly after sunrise.
We were at the top by 8am and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast in the revolving restaurant before making our way around the viewing areas. We could literally see for miles and miles and it was glorious.
But now the true test was about to begin. Did I have it in me to hike down from the 9700 foot peak to 4100 foot low point? Well, we were going to find out.
We began the hike at 8:45am. Temperature at the top was at freezing. I was wearing a stocking cap and gloves, two shirts and a coat. Within 15 minutes I took off the coat and gloves and within an hour the hat. The first 2 hours were treacherous. Hiking along a sheer cliff on loose shale was nerve-wracking. Climbing hand and foot over giant boulders was exasperating, crossing a slippery patch of snow with nothing to do but go down down if you fell was pee-my-pants frightening. Crossing under a waterfall and through a raging creek was tricky.
Every step you need to calculate. Concentrating constantly, I had to remind myself to stop and look around and enjoy the remarkable view. It truly is stunning, and the photos just don’t do it justice. We noticed the peak and the viewing area was now fogged in. We were so glad we took Olle’s advice and started so early!
After about 2 and a half hours we reached Rotstockhutte, a midway hostel facility for hikers. Here we put our feet up and had a beer before heading on down through hundreds of grazing cows with giant cowbells and miles of meadows of wildflowers. Down, down we went, through forests and rivers until we reached Gimmelwald and our Bed and Breakfast at 3:45pm, 7 hours after we started.
It’s difficult to describe an experience like this. At the top as we started I had a tightness in my chest. I couldn’t decide if it was the altitude making it hard for me to breathe or if I was having a slight panic attack as I looked at the “trail” (it’s a stretch to call it that) laying ahead of me.
My husband, always with me and my companion in all things, kept my pace and encouraged me throughout. After awhile you start to get the hang of the steep parts, how best to place your poles, your foot, your body weight. We talked through certain areas when we had to negotiate the best path. It was a team effort.
I enjoyed today, and the past four days, visiting this remarkable area of Switzerland. But I know I will not be back. So, I look around now and am thankful we received this remarkable weather today so we could do this remarkable hike and experience this remarkable once in a lifetime moment; on top of the world on the Schilthorn.