In my mind, there is nothing more extraordinary than the Swiss Alps. I love gathering up my tour members and taking them on my favorite hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg in the Berner Oberland. Praying to the weather gods, we ask the clouds to pass as we take the short cable car ride from Wengen to Mannlichen. The weather gods show mercy on us and once at the top, my tour members gasp at the striking view from 7,317 feet. They stop to take pictures of one another that are sure to land on next year's Christmas card. I stop to explain the map in front of us before we begin our journey to Kleine Scheidegg some 2.5 miles away. My advice - "Days like this are rare in the Swiss Alps. Slow down and make the most of it."
I usually end up somewhere in the middle between the speed demons and the ones who take my advice to heart. While being cordial, I try to steal a little silence by myself to take it all in. Although I've seen this view a million times, it still takes my breath away when I let it. As we get closer to the scenic vista, the outlines of the Eiger, Monch and Jungrau come more into focus and I remember why these views have drawn brave mountain climbers and Romantics like Tolkein. I love watching my youngest tour members gazing at the majestic beauty in front of them - Frolicking in the grass like Heidi once did. They can't quite grasp it, but I pray they understand how lucky they are to witness it at such a young age.
After stopping for a hot chocolate at my favorite mountain hut, I bid my tour members farewell and begin the train journey back down to Lauterbrunnen. As the cogwheel train pulls us down the steep slopes, I put my camera away and let my senses take over. I am keenly aware of the beauty laid before me - The extraordinary of the mountain peaks and the ordinary of the chopped firewood perfectly stacked as only the Swiss can.
I travel to commune with nature. What about you?