Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Hermit in the Swiss Alps - An avid hiker's dream come true


This is the Hermit - speaking for myself here, after a long silence.

A year and a half ago I walked away from society and went into the woods in order to find my soul.

What I found was our soul -- the collective, eternal, greater being, which is embodied in each living thing's individual genome--our DNA and the complex chemistry that surrounds it.

It took eighteen months of solitude at the Cloister at Three Creeks, but ultimately, it also took a Sabbatical from the Hermit life -- a hiking trip (a pilgrimage) to what has to be Hiker's Mecca - The Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps.

On my return from fourteen glorious days of hiking a small portion of that country's uniformly well-marked, entirely interconnected network of 40,000 miles (65,000 km) of hiking trails, I found a new clarity of mind.  I was finally able to allow the verbal and non-verbal elements of 'truth' to merge, to gel, and to mature.

I'll have much more to say on that in upcoming posts.  This one is just about hiking, featuring Seven videos and eleven photos from the September 2021 pilgrimage.  Enjoy:

On my arrival in the small no-vehicles-allowed town of Mürren, I was greeted by a brass band, and utterly gob-smacked by the astounding view from my motel room balcony.

Then I set out on a series of hikes, good weather or bad, hiking a new trail every day:

In the process of exploring new and relatively remote territory, I rode gondolas and cog railway trains.

This last shot above is the 'classic' one, taken from the outskirts of the town of Wengen, looking down on the Lauterbrunnen valley--the place that has inspired famous visitors for centuries, and which inspired J.R.R. Tolkien's vision of the Elven safe-haven of Rivendell.

And moving on ...

Needless to say, I want to go back.  Switzerland was never on my bucket list.  Why?  I thought it was too deep in the grip of civilization to be worthwhile.  It is true that humans have left their mark on nearly every corner of the land below the permanent glaciers, and in some places well above, but the beauty is so enduring, the vegetation so lush and resilient, that often the human footprint can be overlooked.

The Swiss national constitution (Article 88 of Section 5 on Public Construction Works and Transport) specifically identifies the government's role in overseeing the network of footpaths and hiking trails.  The country has seven national trails, continuous across the country.  I hiked portions of the most famous of them, the Via Alpina.  There is also one that is part of Europe's most famous trail network, the Camino Santiago, which in Switzerland is called the Via Jacobi.  This is less of a mountain experience and more of a cultural and religious one - truly a pilgrimage in the original sense of the word.  People have traveled these routes for a thousand years, headed most often to Santiago de Compostela in the NW corner of Spain.  

I don't know what to choose.  So many stunning trails in what may be the most spectacular landscape the world has to offer.  But the mountains are calling ...

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