It's really hard to believe we've been hiking every day for nine days. Yesterday, I turned to Andreas the mountain goat breeder and said, "Wouldn't it be nice to do this every day?" He said, "Yes, that would be nice." And I said, "Hiking is like Breakfast at Tiffany's. That's one thing we got." And then he didn't know what that meant, so we didn't say anything else.
Today--again--we've decided to drive for almost two hours to get to our hike; and when I say "we," you know I mean Andy, right? I enjoy the time in the car. I know the words to all pop songs, and I sing all pop songs. This is not superficial. This is pop.
When we arrive at the Talstation, Andy is a bit frazzled from the concert. "I am looking forward to the silence of the mountain," he says. "You wanted to drive two hours--knowing that I sing. It's your fault." "Everything is always my fault," he says. "Agreed," I say and look up at the mountain. The Bergstation attached to the cables is a tiny speck teetering on the edge of a monstrous cliff high above the valley.
"Wow," I say. "That looks really really far away."
"Are we flying there?"
"No. We are hiking."
"We really have to talk about your sense of humor, Andy."
"I'm looking forward to the silence of the mountain." He walks toward the entrance to the trail. I leave a bit of distance between us and start humming Maroon 5's "Payphone".
"I cannot hear the mountain!" he shouts over his shoulder.
"And you think you can hear the mountain over all these bambini?" There are dozens of Italian families at the beginning of the trail, which is a beautifully designed park for children along the river flowing down from the mountain. Senza bambini, we walk fast to get through it. After about 20 minutes, we come to the first mountain hut. As always, there are a lot of shirtless Italians drinking aperol spritz and lounging. We walk fast past this despite Andy's desire to take a break. Already. Seriously.
After a gate 100 meters on, the mountain gets serious. I turn to Andy and say, "I guess here is where the mountain separates the hikers from the Italian families." Andy points to a group ahead of us. The father is pushing a pram up the steep grassy slope. His family of eight are following him. They stop with him as he takes a breather and then pushes a bit farther. "Madness," I say as we walk past them.
From this point, the trail is broad and steep and the sun is beating down on us like an oven. I'm thirsty. Andy has the water as always. I stop to take pictures of butterflies. Have you ever tried to take pictures of butterflies? It's like trying to get a hyper kid to read a book after he's had six Snickers and a Coke. They will not sit still on that flower. And when they do sit still on the flower, they won't open their wings. Here are my pictures of "butterflies". Enjoy (trying to find them):
Andy the Goat Slayer does not understand my obsession with butterflies; nor does he understand my need for water. He's left me to die of thirst, skipping through meadows after the elusive butterfly pic. By the time I reach him 30 minutes later, I have cobwebs growing in my mouth and I'm hallucinating. Not really. Well, when am I NOT hallucinating?
The Bergstation doesn't look any closer. It's still an eensy-beensy speck high above the mountain that looks like a tsunami wave of stone. As we walk past some cows, I'm reminded of the news this morning that a man was trampled by a cow in Austria yesterday, so I steer well clear of them--but I still moo at them.
The rest of the way to the top is a slog. A slow, steady slog--great for thinking. I think about the book I'll be publishing in a few days. Again. It's always on my mind right now. I think about the blog tour. I wonder if I really know what a blog tour is. I wonder if people will laugh. I wonder. My legs are burning. And before I know it, we are at the top and I'm drinking an aperol spritz.
Tomorrow the tenth and final day of hiking. Wow.
I must be off,
TEN DAYS OF HIKING IN SOUTH TYROL