It would be our last big climb – about 3200 feet up. I pulled on my wool shirt and faced the brisk, scented air. Grandma’s cat ignored me, slurping up a bit of scrambled egg from a saucer. The tips of the peaks were golden. The sun would not reach the grassy valley until midday.
We decided to eat the hut breakfast instead of cooking up our last batch of oatmeal and coffee.
Our grandma didn’t seem to have as many options as we expected. “Yogurt und muesli?”. She shook her head, then replied “homemade sour milk”. Paul let out a bit of a laugh and looked up at me. “Ya, mit honig, bitte”. Then we followed up with Paul’s favorite. “brot?”. Grandma laugh, “ya, ya, ya” as if we had asked if she had a double chin. There was a long pause, then she disappeared into the kitchen.
Paul and I pulled out the maps and spread them across the kitchen table. We would backtrack a mile or two on the road to the hut, then start straight up the mountain, breaking out of valley so perfectly formed by the bright stone cliffs.
A bowl of sour milk, somewhere between yogurt and cottage cheese was pushed across the table. It had been cultured in the heavy bowl. I began to mix in some honey while Paul put a 1/4 inch layer of alpine butter and then marmalade on the bread. Grandma paused and asked one more question. “strudel?”. Paul and I looked at each other and laughed. Ya! It was Friday… The strudel was ready for the weekend hikers.
We finished our dessert breakfast and stretched our sore muscles. Paul claimed to not be in pain, but I’ll admit that my calves hurt. We met the cool air with relaxed careful strides, stretching as we walked. Looking straight up the mountain towers surrounding us, it seemed impossible for a path to wiggle up through the mighty cliffs protecting the pastures. But there always seems a way.
The climb took more than three hours. We paused only briefly to catch our breath, dreaming of the Ramen noodles we would cook when we reached the summit. We didn’t want a hot meal, but the thought of salty noodles gave us strength. The bright green pastures and dark green forests climbed the mountain walls until only small flowers and bits of grass remained.
Suddenly we had reached the pass. We could see the bright white mountains give way to distant lavender ranges and finally blend into the hazy sky. Wow. How could we say goodbye to such a view of God’s amazing planet.
From the pass it was a 30 minute race down the mountain to food, a Radler, and reflection.