Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hiking in South Tyrol -- Day 7

Apples everywhere
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Time to reflect. Seventh days are always good for that, right? While doing my best to do the backstroke in the pool this morning, I take inventory of the last few days. Six days times an average of 5 hours of hiking each day equals 30 hours. I do this without a calculator.

"Thirty hours," I say to Andreas the Goat Master when I return from the pool. "How many calories do you think we've burned?" I cannot do this without a calculator.

"Well," AGM looks up at the ceiling as if there's a much-needed calculator up there. "I'd say about 500 calories an hour while hiking. That's and extra . . . hmmm"--searching the ceiling I suppose for the X button?--"2500 calories each day."

"That's a lot. Why don't we look any thinner?" I say as I drink the last few drops of the wine from last night's bottle. In the middle of my Absolutely Fabulous moment I say "Oh" and wipe a dribble of Gewurztraminer from my chin. "Maybe we should do seven hours today."

Andreas Master of Goats is twiddling around on the iPad, which means he's up to no good. "I want to check out garden centers today."

The Passer River
"After we hike."

"After we hike," he says, not hearing that I said it first.

"I said it first."

He's scribbling down addresses for garden centers. "I want to ask people how they fertilize their magnolias."

"With silver bells and cockle shells I'd imagine," I say. On a scale between 0 and 10, I get zilch reaction.

"Right!" Andy suddenly shouts. "We're off!"

"Can I just check my emails before we leave?" I sit down, scroll through my mails. Opening one from my mother, I discover that my aunt has died. Since moving away from the US, I haven't had much contact with anyone in my extended family, but I know my parents, my uncle and my cousins are certainly going through a very rough time. There's no way I could get to an airport in time to reach home for the funeral.

"We're going biking today," says Andy.

"Yeah, sure," I say. "My aunt died last night. I'm not sure what to do."

Apples and more apples
The time difference is a problem. I can't just call my parents and talk to them. It's the middle of the night there. I send my father an email and get dressed to go biking. It is a pleasant change from hiking, but after 20 kilometers, it starts raining. We eat our lunch on the porch of a Valley Tram station and wait for the sun. After a 20-kilometer ride--mostly downhill--we end up back in Merano with mountain-bike mud stripes on our butts.

I must be off,