Monday, November 26, 2012

Switzerland - Numb

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Saanenmoser Pass in more appropriate weather. Photo credit: Wikipedia
40 miles - Tuesday, September 20

I spent the first two hours under my grey fuzzy balaclava.

Before we left Interlaken we mailed a postcard to Katy, notifying her of our quandary as to how to communicate. It’s the best we can do.

The morning quickly warmed, though hazy sunshine is all the Swiss September will allow. The snow-capped mountains provide grinning views. Despite pedaling beside lovely turquoise lakes, the stunning scenery is also a tease; we’ve lost ground against the weather.

When I’m lost in silent contemplation, scared, in pity, thinking of shivering cold nights in a tent, Andy whistles or sings. He purposely changes the lyrics to suit our situation. I know he means well, but there are times I want to be left alone.

In the course of planning this yearlong adventure, when excitement screams “I want to see everything!”, it’s easy to shut out the bad, the lonely, the desperation which must also accompany any extended journey. This afternoon, when we stopped beside the road for a cookie break, I cried. I wanted, more than ever, to curl up on a couch with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book.

I felt better a little later. We started climbing the long Nieder Simmental Valley, when the sun breathed  rays of hope. Then past Latterbach and Erlenbach – all small villages. After Weissenbach the road rose above tree level and we spied train tracks across the mountain pasture. The traffic was light, and for a while all was right on the bike.

The break in weather did not last long. Before we knew it we were ascending in cold showers. At the summit town of Saanenmoser, at 1200 meters, my mittened hands turn numb. When this happens I have trouble warming them again, and if by some miracle it does happen, it could be a couple hours. We stopped for information and discover a hostel in the next village.

Saanan-Gstaad Hostel. Photo credit: Swiss Youth Hostels
First we need to drop several hundred feet. It’s a frightening situation. I can’t feel my hands, but I must periodically squeeze the cold, metal brake levers. I want to weep. I struggle, dismissing the thought for the moment. If I can get through this, I’ll have a warm bed to crawl into. Must not think. Check traffic, look beyond brim of raincoat. Keep bike upright. Listen for too much grit on rims; let up on brake.

Somehow we make it to the base of the hill in Saanen. My feet are now frozen. A sign directs the way to the hostel. We need food. I can barely think. Andy offers to get groceries in Gstaad while I check us into the hostel. I nod and lift a smile. I turn my back to the shrouded peaks and make my way up a small hill, dismounting and pushing the heavy bike the last few yards because I can’t be bothered to shift.

Later, when we have warm food in us, are changed into dry clothes, we listen to the rain. Tomorrow, we may have to take a train to Geneva.

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