by the Alps.
My hiking buddies who really know me never ask, "Jeff! Let's do this hike. It'll be challenging!" They know what my answer will be. "Hell! No!"
I'm at the stage of my life where the biggest daily challenge I want to face is finding the "ON" switch for my coffee pot. I don't seek challenges. I'm a closet wimp. I want to breeze up passes because I trained for them. I like easy.
That being all said, I'm physically suffering from the onslaught of the Alps. In my four days of hiking here, I've accumulated 17,191" (5240 meters) of uphill. That's 3.25 miles of ascent. OY!
No wonder I'm fatigued and cringe at the thought of a no-elevator third floor hotel room.
All the tromping I did in Colorado's High Country couldn't prepare me for the sheer steepness of the Alps. I might as well have sat in an Iowan cornfield reading Harlequin Romance novels, munching on Bonbons, all washed down with gooey chocolate milk. I thought I came prepared!
I discovered on these four days of hiking, the four stages i experience from all this strenuous activity. In fifteen minutes, my cotton t-shirt is just got out of the washing machine wet. In thirty minutes I'm exuding an "Eau de Sambur" scent. It's definitely not an expensive cologne. In an hour, I'm taking intermittent breaks to scrape the grit and grime off my tongue. Between the steep terrain and the exertions, I'm dragging that particular body part in the dirt. As the Aussies say, "this is hard Yakka!"
Now a word about the trail conditions: In my past, I've heard "alternative facts" about the condition of the Alps paths. From what I was told, I envisioned groomed and manicured tracks. I fantasized about seeing scantily clad French maids vigorously sweeping the trails with old fashioned corn brooms. Sigh! That's not the case. The trails are every bit as rocky, rutted and rough as the ones in America's wild places. (Maybe worse). There's no daydreaming on these hikes. You really must watch your step.
A few days ago, I sat outside a cafe at the Col de Balme. This mountain pass serves as a border between France and Switzerland. From a proprietress as ancient as the Alps, I purchased an overpriced cheese sandwich (minus the cheese) and half liter of water. I took my humble bread and water meal outside and looked into Switzerland for the first time in my life. I got giddy and started to laugh out loud. This is so nuts!
Then I realized if Hannibal (the Carthaginian General) was able to get elephants over these passes, I should be able to get my ass over them as well.
It's all good.
Keep looking in, the Alps are amazing...