Ebenalp

A few weeks ago I went with my team on a company offsite hiking trip to Ebenalp, the northernmost summit of the Alps. I loved the hike so much that as soon as the capricious weather allowed it I went back, this time with Loes and with my camera.

After a two hours train ride we reached the entrance at the bottom of the valley. From there we could have taken a cable car up but we all know it’s the journey, not the destination, even when the destination is covered in a thick layer of clouds and you see people coming back with rain coats.

After the steep first leg of the hike we rested for a bit in front of this lake surrounded by cows, cow dung and guest houses. The day before was national Swiss day when many people choose to spend the night in the mountains and play with fireworks. Because of this, I assume, we met more people than cows, the reverse of what happened during my first visit.

After the lake we still had a stretch of land and farms before we reached the southern mountain face. On the way up we shared the trail for a while with a lively herd of self-directed goats. One of the male goats was slamming its head against a couple other goats, others were minding their own grass eating business and a few of them seemed keenly interested in us. At one point I found myself leading a group of goats. I would stop and the goats behind me would also stop, look around in a considerate and distracted way but making it clear that they are looking at you from the corner of the eye, and only resume moving when I started moving again. This worked the four of fives times that I tried until I inadvertently broke some goat rule of conduct later and I lost my power.

The few times that I looked back a little black goat was looking at Loes with suspicion, sometimes from behind her, sometimes in front of her like in the picture below. No idea what was going on between them.

We stopped for lunch and, a long and sweaty hike up later, we reached the top of the southern face from where we could see this:

Our energy was dwindling but the sky was getting clearer and clearer and Loes still believed me every time I said “only twenty more minutes left” so we kept going. As the next pictures show our efforts were rewarded. One of the main reasons we chose Switzerland as our place to live was gorgeous nature within easy access for people who don’t like driving. I think the next two views are a good example of this:

By this point we weren’t going up anymore, there was only sky above us, but we had been climbing montains for four hours, had light quinoa salad for lunch and we were running out of fuel (Loes’s actual words were: “I’m sorry, I’m dead, go on without me.”) so we made a pit stop at a restaurant at the top and had this:

The rest of the hike consisted on walking down to the cable car surrounded by distant hills peppered with little villages and paragliders above us and hearing a blissful Loes murmuring “röschti, hmmm, delicious röschti…”. A week later she’s still talking about it.

This was the most challenging hike I remember doing and the experience was fantastic. Even though the mountain was, understandably, a bit busy the sheer sizes and the beauty surrounding us were enthralling. I found it very easy to leave my calculating monkey-mind in its cage and focus on nature, on my body and on the clean and pure fresh air.

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