My body is tired and sore. No I didn't race this week, I didn't even ride a bike until today... but I put some serious kilometers and elevation behind me, and the best part is that it was all on foot! Some of my earliest memories, both good and bad, involve trucking down a trail in the woods. You see, in my parents previous lifetimes were both climbing bums... my dad has first accents in the Himalayas to his name, and for a while my mom was an Outward Bound instructor. And in order to insure they were able to continue pursuing their shared passion for getting lost in the woods once they settled down and started a family, growing up I more than once got to dress up in a swimsuit and raincoat with plastic bags around my feet and hike through rainstorms. Memories like that, as well as arguably brighter ones like standing on top of Mt. Rainier, climbing Prussic Peak, summiting Mt. Hood, sweating up Asgard Pass with Allen and our 70lb packs and breaking ice still incapsulating alpine lakes to go swimming, vividly stick with me, and are some of my most cherished. Those trips instilled a deep passion for hiking and backpacking in me... one that is arguably stronger than my passion on the bike. There is just nothing as humbling and fundamental to me as finding myself alone and surrounded by peaks as old and imposing as time itself.
So where better to go than the Matterhorn... the town of Zermatt. I wanted to do some iconic swiss touristing... And thats exactly what I got. I went with the intention of getting away from my bike, and just finding a place to relax mentally; to hike in the presence of mountains that would take my breath away. I wanted to do something different with my body and go places my bike couldn't take me. And I found some of that... for sure... but I also found myself surrounded by Asian tourists having snowball fights, hiking for 4 hrs and then having trucks drive past or gondolas soar over my head, and in the presence of excess everywhere. I took the cog rail up the Gornergant, and sunburnt my forehead... I hiked along the mountain paths under the radiant sun and Matterhorn... I took tons of photos and I ate 25CHF pizza and 8CHF ice cream.
It's not to say that I didn't enjoy myself... I did completely, and I am so glad I went, because ultimately I've come home ready to start training again. It just wasn't exactly what I expected... I'm in a much better place mentally, than I was just a week ago... I'm no longer tired and a little bored. But Zermatt and the Matterhorn experience just wasn't as powerful as I had hoped it might be. It lacked some sort of authenticity amongst the throngs of people and video cameras. I don't have words to describe the beauty of those mountains, and on Friday when I was really able to get good and away, ditching the trail and wondering up a glacial moraine below the Matterhorn, I was totally spellbound. And then as I approached town on my way home, I again left the trail and found my own little beach in the sun along the river where I was able to swim, eat chocolate and read my book... after all, my mother would be totally disappointed to find out I didn't jump into freezing water when the opportunity presented itself. In the end, I think I like the solitude of the North Cascades a little better :)