The end of any trip is bittersweet and the end of this Swiss adventure is particularly so. We didn’t know any of these people one week ago; we were just names on a list of program participants. Now, after a week of walking, laughing, eating and drinking together, of talking with each other sharing our thoughts and hopes and fears, of experiencing incredible landscapes through different eyes but at the same moment, we have become friends. Some friends you see every day, some friends you don’t see for years, some friends, upon parting, you never see again. But you remain in each other’s hearts and souls. A shared experience alters each of us forever.
I will never be able to eat Wisconsin cheese without thinking of Phil’s outspoken and genuine pride and love of all things Wisconsin.
I will always remember Dale’s incredible knowledge of plant life and her story of Fern Fungus and Albert Algae.
Systems will make me think of Richard and his quest to explore them and write about them . . . even if he did occasionally get the time wrong.
I have been delighted to see the great big world unfold before Kris’s eyes and to remember how incredible it is to experience different countries and cultures for the first time.
We were blessed with our guides, one just ending his long career in European guiding and one just setting out on his:
Stuart brought his extensive knowledge of alpine culture, history and hiking along with his vast experience of guiding a disparate group of people and helping them coalesce into, if not a well-oiled machine, a companionable group of friends. And he did it all without losing his sense of humor. His hard work behind the scenes made our trip seemingly effortless and completely enjoyable.
Killian is a treat. At twenty-five, he is still a boy filled with joy for life and an exuberance for the mountains that cannot be contained . . . not that he tries. But he is wise beyond his years, and his ruminations about life and the healing power of nature are inciteful and thought provoking. His lovely Irish voice and goofy Irish laugh never failed to make us smile just as his gentle encouragement never failed to get us over whatever hurdle we might be encountering. This young man is going to accomplish a lot in his life.
Finally, sharing this trip with Michael made it perfect. You live with a person for years and you think you know them; but plop that same, familiar person down in a different situation and you become aware of facets you never suspected the person had.
Michael had genuine concerns about the chair lift/suspension bridge aspect of this trip. It’s not that he is afraid of the chair lift or the suspension bridge; it’s that he’s afraid that his vertigo will paralyze him. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he did all of the scary bits of this hike. I know that a huge part of his ability to overcome his fears was due to Stuart’s and Killian’s perfect encouragement but I know that part of it was due to the fact that he loves me and knew how much it meant to me for us to be able to share all of this trip and for that I thank him with all of my heart.
See you on the trail.