Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hiking in South Tyrol -- Day 5

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The temperature is climbing. Already at 10:00 a.m. it's approaching 90 degrees. We pack extra water and head for a trail we've done before. It's only a short drive from our apartment. Today, I've brought along gluten-free pasta instead of my usual ration of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. The hike to the top will take more than three hours.

In the broiling sun it's a lazy ascent through orchards, meadows and communities smaller than villages near Merano. Villagettes? There are enormous sprinkler systems to water the meadows. Ahead we see an obstacle course of sprinklers moving toward and away from the road we're on. It's like one of those Japanese shows where the contestants have to time their moves just right to get through the course without being sprayed with some awful ooze.

I get about three-fourths of the way through when I'm pelted from above with wonderful, refreshing water. A family of three hikers ahead watch me and laugh. I laugh. I want to do it again. It brings back memories of hot Tennessee days in the yard: me and my brother chasing each other with the hose, neither wanting to stay dry.

When the path isn't dangerous or steep, you have time and mental space to think about life. These are the moments my brain arranges and re-arranges my life so that I have more mental space. What it called when a computer does this? Defragmentation? I think mostly about the book I'll be publishing in a few days. I think about how I'd answer questions about it. My brain orders and re-orders my thoughts.

I also think about my niece a lot. She has a disease called Wegener's Disease.Whenever I'm in South Tyrol I think of her. She went hiking with us in these mountains a few years ago.

I think about my shoulder less than I did a few months ago. It still hurts, but the laming pain when I move my left arm quickly is over. I try to move the arm as much as possible so that the shoulder remembers I need it. I breathe and sweat buckets. I am drenched from head to toe with sweat.




Today we stop to eat our lunch on a bench next to one of the typical crucifixes seen all over this part of the world. The bench is almost in the shade. It's been so hot and I'm so tired that I have no appetite. I eat anyway because I don't want the gluten-free pasta to go to waste. And, well, we also stop at a GREAT little restaurant to "drink" something, but the food looks so good that I have to eat a salad. The owner of this place is so kind. He gives the guests grappa. Sweet guy.


We walk on for another hour until we reach a plateau of sorts. There's a lift station there (the one we'll take back to the valley), but we're headed even higher and farther to a group of mountain huts almost in the clouds. When we arrive we, men are setting up tables for a Bergfest the next day. There'll be music and lots of people, so of course we know what we'll be doing then.

To finish the day we have a glass of wine at the Bergstation and the Gasthof Klammeben while an elderly man plays his accordion and sings traditional German songs. These songs strike an emotional chord in me, but I have no idea why. I'm not German, and I can barely understand his dialect. The man at the next table sings all the words in Hochdeutsch, so I get a few lyrics here and there.

The best hike yet. Day 6 next time.

I must be off,
Christopher

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Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type, available from Amazon Anything and lots of other online stores.