Our next big hike was a two day mountain climb completed towards the end of our first week. Two day hikes were something I had only experienced in nightmares, something I was yet to suffer through. We set out early, rucksacks, walking poles and ice pics at the ready. Our leader was an Icelandic man called Arnor who came to be known as Arnor the Deceiver (i will come to explain this.) Our hike began gently through forest and beautiful scenery, certainly enjoyable. We walked by ‘friendship rock’ a big round boulder with a flat top that sat comfortably in the middle of the river we had been strolling along. According to swiss folklore if two people throw a stone onto the rock and it stays on you will remain friends forever. We adopted a cute little black salamander and named him Ken. Once we stopped for a lunch break Arnor gave us a choice of routes, the moment when our trust in him was shattered. We were offered us two routes, the nice, easy, scenic route or a steep, difficult, but direct route. Being the sweet, naive explorers we are we opt’ed for the first and it was a fairly enjoyable 3 hours, until it occurred to us that we were in the exact same spot we had stopped for lunch and had the direct route just ahead of us (betrayal isn’t the word.) So we began the route named ‘Lötschen Pass’ which commenced with half an hour of uphill HELL, but eventually made it to the mountain huts (paper thin walls filled with alpine bunks and a lack of working toilets.) They were also surrounded by them huge swiss cows that look more like vicious bulls that will come crashing through your front door at midnight. Our dinner was made up of crusty bread and those packets of dried food that you add boiling water to. Doesn’t sound so appetising but they are just so practical; they weigh basically nothing in your bag and have a load of calories in them which gives you plenty of energy. My chicken curry was surprisingly nice, although, I can’t say the same for my fellow explorer who had last pick of macaroni cheese (what happened on the mountain, stays on the mountain.) We stayed up late laughing, raging about Arnor thr deceiver and violently shivering, the blankets provided were washed twice a year so the majority of us chose to be cold.
My legs were in agony when i woke up, the thought of the day ahead just terrified me, another full day of hiking ahead of us was something I just had to accept. I struggled like hell, my body could do it but my head couldn’t, I’d just stop still, close to tears telling myself I was never going to get to the top, although I didn’t have much choice. Luckily I had some great friends and explorer leaders who motivated me to keep going, this often involved getting stabbed in the back by a walking pole. One of the best parts of this hike was the walk across a glacier, it was kind of scary being so slippy but such an amazing opportunity, considering chances are they’ll all be gone in a couple of years. We then spent an hour scrambiling in icy conditions til we finally reached the top, I burst out laughing, i couldn’t believe i’d done it! The café our leaders had spoke about turned out to be real! And not just a motive to make us walk faster. I was delighted to enjoy a toasty hot chocolate and take a few pictures, looking down at the clouds below I felt like I was on top of the world. Going down was a doddle, one explorer leaders taught me an interesting method that avoided putting too much pressure on your knees, throw yourself down and use your poled every now and then to stay upright. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride when we finished the hike, it seems quite embarrassing now but I had doubted myself from the beginning, I had no confidence and then I’d gone and done it. I couldn’t stop smiling.