Today’s run was special.
9 years ago, I lived for a few months in Kandersteg, a little village in the heart of the Swiss Alps where there is a world centre for scouts. At the time, mostly because of my scout life, I already loved nature, mountains and outdoor activities. But Summer’09 was a turning point. I spent the summer hiking all over the surrounding mountains, I met people from all over the world, and many of the projects that I took on in the following years were sparked by this experience.
I remember so well being gobsmacked by the Gasterntal valley, half an hour up from the Kandersteg valley, following the Kander river in direction of the Kanderfirn glacier, where it comes from. I hadn’t been there for a long time, so today, after a busy weekend with meetings and General Assembly at the Scout Centre, I headed up towards the valley.
Just out of the centre, I ran up some fields where cows were resting in the sun. I got two shocks while trying to close the electrical fence, but I only realised they were shocks when the second one hit me! The cows stared at me. I ran past them and they didn’t budge.
Then, I followed a path into the woods and started climbing. At this point, even very early on into the run, I had to walk because the path was so steep. I kept my heart rate up by hiking as vigorously as I could.
Following the Kander river, after 15 minutes of a steep climb, the terrain flattened out again and I ran through some nice shady woods, appreciating the milky colour of the river. I turned left and passed the restaurant at the beginning of the valley that doesn’t even have electricity (or at least, 9 years ago, when I ate there for my “Pinkie” graduation*, it didn’t).
And this is where you get hit in the face by this:
It’s the rocks, it’s the spring flowers having a festival on the grass, it’s the snow on the peaks, the clouds contrasting in the blue sky. It’s so perfect that it’s ridiculous.
Encouraged by the view, I kept running. I stopped for pictures when I felt like it. Ran again. Stopped again to watch two mother ducks swim away with their 6 or 7 little ducklings in a pond. Listened to the 4 or 5 waterfalls crashing down melted snow from mountains all around. Stopped to take pictures. Ran again.
After a few km on the flat path, I ran into a leafy forest and started a slight climb with sneak peeks to the Doldenhorn. When I realised that I was running a little late, I turned around and headed back. Until this moment, no fatigue, no pain, just pure enjoyment, running and taking in the views.
Heading out of the forest again, even though I kew what I was going to find, I couldn’t avoid the feeling of being hit by the scenery again. I even said something out loud. Afterwards, at dinner, someone told me that, invariably, when hiking out of the forest and facing this view, everyone falls silent. Even the kids.
I took 5000 more pictures before running back to where I came from. Usually, I don’t like to do linear runs where you have to run through the same path twice to get back to the starting point, but here the view is so stunning, that you cannot get enough different perspectives.
Then, I went back down the steep, rocky part, always along the Kander river, practising my downhill running in tricky steep terrain with loose rocks, branches and even steep steps lined with wood and stones.
Back into Kandersteg, I ran through the campsite of the scout centre and back to the centre, happy that I brought my running gear yet again and that, after a long, busy weekend, I could go out, have a run, and have all this beauty as a prize.
*the volunteers at the Scout Centre are called Pinkies because they work in pink t-shirts.