The Alps Are the Alps


Bella and I boarded a small train in the Swiss village of Wilderswil that creaked up a mountain for 1400 meters and dropped us off at Schynige Platte. All around were startlingly beautiful, snow capped
peaks. The Alps, I found, actually look like the Alps. In fact, to my great surprise, they are the Alps. And no matter how many times James Bond skis down one of these mountains with an army of anonymous men in pursuit or Clint Eastwood dangles from the end of a rope in the forgotten thriller The Eiger Sanction--probably playing on TV as you read this--the Alps will always be the Alps.

At the end of our hike we scrambled down into a small meadow to set up camp. Across from us were the distinctive peaks of the Eiger, the Monch and Jungfrau. Soon the sunís light and warmth began retreating from the meadow and we decided it was time to crawl into the tent. Still, it wasn't yet as cold as we had feared and we felt optimistic the night would go well.

Our optimism proved naive, however, as the temperature quickly dropped and we couldn't stop ourselves from shivering no matter how deeply we tried to burrow into our sleeping bags. Sleeping itself seemed out of the question, as was any attempt to get comfortable on the hard ground.

At about six in the morning I crawled out, putting on as many layers of clothing as possible. The sun was beginning to rise behind a nearby ridge, illuminating the peaks and filling the valley with a pink glow, but our meadow was still dark and the ground was encased in a thick frost. Eventually the sun peeked out from behind the ridge and a ray of sun shone down on the meadow floor. I ran into the light and immediately felt warmer. I understood how so many cultures throughout history could have worshipped nature and the sun. There was probably a moment or two in the tent that night where I was actually afraid I would never see the sun's light again or feel its warmth, and I could've easily imagined praying for its return. Now I could hear a faint cracking sound which I soon discovered was the frost breaking off the wildflowers and releasing them. The sun, it seemed, was bringing them back to life. It provides for us all, I thought, as long as you're faithful. If Bella hadn't gotten out of the tent then, I probably would've started some pagan ritual in the sun's honor. By the time we got everything packed up we were, to our incredulity, hot. On the hike back we were sweating. But I'll never take the sun for granted again. As I look out the window now I realize dusk is fast approaching. O great Sun God, please don't forsake me. Why don't you answer my prayers?

Perhaps He turned on the TV and caught a rerun of The Eiger Sanction.

S Langlois

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