Extreme Mountain Hiking!

This weekend we went with some friends to Champery, Switzerland, to do some serious mountain hiking. I’m not talking about the “let’s walk through a pasture and look at some mountains across the valley” kind (although that kind of hike is pretty cool); rather, this was the “you need to hold onto chains in the side of the rocks or you’ll plummet to your death” type of hike. Ok, that’s being a bit dramatic, but there were chains cut into the rocks at various points, and you clearly would die if you fell, but being as we’re all rational adults, we simply held onto the chains and didn’t fall. Not nearly as bad as it sounds.

That said, the true appeal of this hike was the chance to get up into the mountains, hang out a bit, and stay in a mountain hut. Now, I hear “mountain hut”, and I think of this cool alpine mecca where a giant dog hangs out to help weary travelers, and everyone sits around a wood-burning stove telling crazy hiking stories (not that I have many of those, but that’s beside the point). Basically, I expected something rustic and close to nature. And in fairness, that’s exactly what it was. You had 30-some people sleeping in the same room (2 rooms total, so about 70 people), one bathroom – for everyone – and that was about it. Rustic? Check. Close to nature? Double-check. Giant awesome dog running around saving stranded hikers? Eh; there was a wolf-looking dog that was kind of cool, but he didn’t really want anything to do with the hikers. Can’t blame him – we probably didn’t smell too good by that point.

The other interesting thing about the mountain hut is that it’s obviously geared toward psycho-hikers. What does that mean? Well, specifically it means that they turn out all the lights at 10:00 pm. And I mean all the lights! You’re expected to be in your beds by that point (or rather, giant row of spots in which you theoretically have a place to lie down without being touched by somebody else). I can’t remember the last time I had to go to bed that early – and I know for a fact that I’ve never chosen to go to bed that early – so it ended up being one of those nights where I lay awake for ten hours, listening to a snoring competition from all those Europeans who haven’t heard of breathe-right strips.

Stories of snoring aside, it was actually a lot of fun, and I’d probably do it again. Sadly, it’s getting tougher and tougher to get these kinds of hikes in. The weather is officially cooling, the leaves are turning, and we’ve been doing a lot of these day trips of late and as such haven’t slept in for quite awhile. That’s ok, though, because you gotta make every weekend count!

Next weekend: The Descent of the Cows!