Thursday, October 15, 2015



Grindelwald village is located at 1,034 m (3,392 ft) above sea level in the Bernese Alps.  It is about 3 hours from my home in Geneva. 

Nicolas, someone who has come to be very important to me in a very short period of time, is a local from Geneva.  He has taught me so much about the culture and has given me so much kindness, more than I could ever thank him for.  I have battled any kind of homesickness, culture shock, or loneliness with his company. He has been more than a friend to me. So, as if his companionship wasn't enough, he offered to take me to Grindelwald via car this past weekend.  It was so amazing to see the city and country side from the window of a car. 

We hiked (First Bachalpsee First) a very famous hike in Grindelwald.  It was about a 2 hour hike.  First though, we walked around the town & found ourselves some groceries, which we made sandwiches of in the half hour cable car ride up.  Talk about a ride.  We ate swiss cheese and bread as we ascended up into the top of the mountains and watched as the houses became smaller and smaller.

This was a photo from inside the cable car. It was magnificent. The clouds are so strange.  It is especially strange to be in such close proximity to clouds.

We walked, stopped, turned around, stopped, walked, turned around, sighed.. and repeated for the entire hike.  There were small streams of water, and we could hear water rushing when we were silent.   It was absolutely breath-taking.  The mountains were so close and surrounding us was this mystical land that looked like something off of a movie.

Fun fact: This area of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen (featured on another blog post), Murren, Gimmelwald -- all close to Interlaken, inspired J.R.R. Tolkien in the writing of The Lord of the Rings.

It was literally a scene from a movie.

We continued until we found the lake.

When we got to the lake, we realized that there were actually two.  One which had all the fame for its beautiful lookout over the mountains, and another behind it tucked closer to the golden rolling hills which was a duller blue, and quite a bit sadder. We decided we would pay our respects to the sad lake first and give it our love, perhaps in hopes of good karma. I dipped my fingers and we laughed at how silly our endeavor to entrust love upon the sad lake was.  Then we went and sat by the lake with the view.  I read from a book called "How to think about weird things" and we discussed whether or not we believed it was okay to believe in something comforting regardless of its truth.  I've never met anyone who has pushed me further out of my head than Nicolas.

It really is incredible the way he is.  For example, if we were to begin a discussion and he were to ask a question formed from the discussion, I would answer.  Then I would reciprocate the question, asking him.  But unlike other people, Nicolas wouldn't know the answer.  Because he wasn't thinking about his answer.  He was listening to me, actually listening to me.  Listening to me in a way that is selfless and simple and honest.  It is like, he cannot listen without investing his whole entire self into the person who is speaking.  I will have to wait a few minutes for him to recollect his thoughts and think of what his answer is.  He is never thinking of his next response, he is always thinking about you. He has mastered the art of listening.  This, alongside with many other beautiful, wonderful qualities, gives people a sense of clarity when they speak with him.

"I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything.  So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening"

We were walking back from the lake and suddenly a woman turned to me and spoke in Swiss-German (a fourth language common among Suisse citizens in the Interlaken region) and said something.  I just stared blankly at her, but as we came closer, I realized she had said "fox."  The fox was not afraid of us at all.  It trotted confidently across our path and back without hesitation. 

Nicolas and I found a hill off of the path and we decided to run out to the end.  We were falling uncoordinatedly into ravines and jumping from crevice to crevice. We were unashamed and I was having so much fun. The clouds created a blanket below us and the mountains were vast and expansive, bigger than any I'd ever seen before.  I have never had a view like this one.  

How small we are. I felt like a poem, or a song.  I wanted to lift my arms and run and dance and sing and laugh all at once.  All the things that make me human and connect me to my core.  I was so close to myself and my humanity.   An accidental, instinctive happiness.  No weight.  Limitless and wholly connected.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A hike through the clouds [Mount Titlis]

Mount Titlis, Engelberg

Mount Titlis is a mountain of the Uri Alps, located on the border between the cantons (similar to counties) of Obwalden and Berne.  The mountain is 3,238 meters above sea level.  It has the world's first revolving cable car! 
Grant and I hopped on a train early that morning to get in a full day of hiking.  We probably ended up hiking about 10 miles by the end of the day.

We took a cable car halfway up the mountain.  There was an alpine lake called Trubsee. There were boats perched by a dock open for people to take them.  We practically ran to the boast & rowed out to the middle of the lake to have our lunch. The water was crystal clear mountain water and we were surrounded by 3 types of mountains on all sides of us.  To one side were tall, jagged cliff-like mountains, to another were giant snow-peaked mountains, and on the last were rolling mountains far off in the distance. 

We ate bread, avocados, cheese, grapes, and chocolate for lunch.  Grant tried to catch grapes in his mouth and I laughed myself to tears when he tipped a little too far and almost fell off the boat.  We were blissful and happy and I could not have enjoyed his company any more.  He has a beautifully destructive nature to him. He wants to tip things over and step in puddles and break rules.  He will spill avocado all over himself and will drop things that shouldn't be dropped, and I like him exactly that way.

After our boat ride, we saw a cliff and decided we wanted to climb it.  There was no path, but we just started walking towards the cliff.   Grant let me walk on his shoes to get across small streams and we got more and more excited as we neared the huge incline. It was a strenuous and steep hike. We had to cross barbed wire to get to the top, and we knew it was serious. I was grabbing handfuls of grass to pull myself up using hands and knees, up to the top. 

When we arrived at the top, there was a large wooden cross.  On the wooden cross hung a box.  We opened the box to find a book full of stories and signatures of all the other people who had climbed to the top. 

"You are You no matter where I am," I wrote.

We signed our names, yelled at the top of our lungs, ate a piece of chocolate, Grant smoked a cigarette, and then we climbed back down. 

As soon as we began our descent, we realized we were headed right into the clouds.  We had decided to hike about 3 hours down the mountain back to town. 

We found ourselves in this mystical, magical land of misty clouds, sounds of distant waterfalls, and rocky paths. It really felt like a scene off of some movie, a horror scene, but a cool one none-the-less. Eventually, we descended out of the clouds again to a landscape that was covered in bright colors.  There was moss covering everything, with autumn colored leaves contrasted against it. There were little waterfalls and streams of water paralleling us down the mountain.

We were joyous to begin hearing the sounds of cowbells realizing we were nearing the town's edge.  It was a long, strenuous hike, but a beautiful one.  Mount Titlis did not disappoint.