Arrived in Champex this evening tuckered out from a harder climb than I had anticipated. Most of the early part of the walk wound through little hamlets with mazes of streets and crooked, weathered chalets that looked as if they had been standing there for several hundred years. Until now it was probably the most beautiful and cultural immersed portion of the walk, giving me a real sense of what the old Alps must once have been like. I wish I could see it in winter.
Don’t have time to write a lot right now, but during the last climb of the day I came upon a valley that so looked like what my grandfather used to take me walking to when I was a boy that all sorts of memories of my childhood in Germany, of relatives who died, like my grandparents and last year my aunt, from diabetic complications, that upon arriving in Champex and the still lake there with its tourist boats and little pensions, I almost broke down crying in the restaurant. I guess loneliness of the walk is getting to me… though I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, nothing really longer than a few hours, then I’m on my own again. In the restaurant a group of other walkers sat together relating the day’s experiences and it was hard just sitting there looking out at the lake with all those memories coming unasked. I closed my eyes for a while after drinking my coffee and wished each of my loved ones well, hoping everyone was peaceful and happy and not lonely anywhere.
The fight to keep your composure and make it through these trying moments is part of such a walk, of course. I hope I can make the walk something really worthwhile.
Wishing you all good night.
7 replies on “Alpine Journey 7: Memories of People I Love”
Your accounts are so moving, and I am cheering you on at each stop, slightly enviously – it’s been many years since my one and only trip to the Alps, which went through Chamonix and on to Zurich and Interlaken. So glad you are enjoying it, feeling good, and meeting some friendly people even though some of the traveling is lonely for you. I’ve also been thinking of dead and absent family and friends lately. The longing to see them again and the sadness that that isn’t possible is mixed with gratitude for their love and the way it does stay with me, increasing my own ability to appreciate things and be lovign to others. I don’t know how else to look at it! When you get home, maybe you’d enjoy reading some of John Berger’s books about people and villages in the Alps, if you haven’t already. In the latest one, he “encounters” many people from his past. Happy walking for the rest of your trip!
Yes, I miss my grandfather and grandmother a lot! Just had an experience like you describe, though it might have only been something I saw on TV or a memory of times we shared; when the longing for someone who’s gone grows so strong it just bursts out. To me my grandparents’ place means “home”. It was the centre of us all, where we met other relatives, ate many holiday meals, cooked together in the kitchen, argued, made up, lived. It was where I learned to walk, and talk.
I think some of that sadness is for the time that’s gone and can never come again, but that is so much a part of us, that we can’t imagine ourselves without those people, those experiences. Fortunately, they are ours to carry with us, inside in the homes we have built. Sometimes with sadness, but often with joy.
It’s funny, I rarely feel lonely when I’m alone at home, but travelling by oneself can be, as you say, a very lonely experience indeed. Still, it sounds as if you’re seeing and experience some wonderful, luminous things.
You’re not alone. We’re always with you no matter where you are. Genki wo dashite, ne.
Butuki — I am really loving your writing, your willingness to take us on this journey with you, even though we’re not really there, and even though part of this is very difficult for you. (I couldn’t keep up with you on these mountain walks; just two miles up a slope in Nevada was a tough one for me this weekend, but I did it again the next day, and I thought about you, doing far lengthier and more strenuous walking…)
Butuki–Such a touching story, thank you for sharing your travels and most intimate reminiscence with us. I’m with you in spirit though maybe not beside you on the trail–L
Your writing is so moving. Thank you for sharing your experiences.