If hiking this mountain was death, then the view from the top had to be heaven.
This photo is from about 3/4 of the way up, if I remember correctly. And yes, that water color is the real thing! We had just hiked up what Daniela promised was the worst part of the trail, and needed to stop (yet again) to catch our breath. Daniela, CESA’s program manager and typical super-fit European adventurer, assured us all that we would be able to handle the hike, no problem. It only took about 20 minutes for me to start questioning her judgement….but, long story short, I made it to the top!
I ended up walking in the back of the group with my professor Frank, Daniela, and a few other students. Even though I was kind of embarrassed that I couldn’t charge up the mountain like some of my friends, it was totally worth hanging back to get to hear Daniela’s stories. She’s been everywhere in the world! She hiked Machu Picchu in Peru and insisted on carrying all of her supplies on her own, she went fishing for pirhanas in the Amazon forest, she’s been caving, canyoning, scuba-diving…and her next life goal is to learn how to fly a helicopter. Talk about awesome! This hike was a stroll in the park for her.
At the top we all took a while to enjoy the view and our nice little bagged lunches (complete with Swiss chocolate!), courtesy of Luigi and Gaetano, the chefs here at CESA. We hiked down a different path so we could pass through Meride, where Daniela lives.
We stopped at a little church on the way down to refill our water bottles at a public fountain, and took a look at the tidy little cemetery. (Daniela is creeped out by the thought of being buried, by the way. She says she doesn’t want some scientist digging her up in 500 years and analyzing her bones to figure out what she did while she was alive.) In Meride we saw the little museum full of (reproductions of) fossils found up on the mountain, and learned that Mario Botta is renovating a building further down the road for a new museum. Daniela showed us where NOT to get pizza, and the outside of her house. We made it back to Riva in time for dinner (and about 5 glasses of water each)!