From our vantage point at Memminger Hutte, we scoped out the trail that we'd be taking the following day over a steep, rocky pass, Seescharte. From the hut the trail looked intimidating, but we found that the hike up it was actually really pleasant. We passed a beautiful little lake just beyond the hut and soon came upon a small herd of Ibex. Just above them, we hoisted ourselves up and over the pass to start the descent into a gorgeous valley.
It's funny that the climb up to the pass was what had scared me the day before while I studied at it from the hut. It was the descent down from the pass that I should have been worried about. While the valley was gorgeous and I was thrilled to have made the climb up, over, and into it, the trail that took us down to the valley floor was steeper than anything I'd ever descended and had loose, rocky footing. And it was a long way down. I was scared, I was moving at the pace of a crawl, and soon my knees were aching. Even though we were some of the first hikers out of the hut and had been hiking on our own for a while, once we reached this part of the hike groups were passing us over and over and over again. I felt humiliated. I kept telling myself, "You'll eventually be done with this descent and once you are you'll forget all about the nervousness and the pain. You'll be psyched to remember the views and proud that you finished a challenging hike." But the entire time I was also thinking, "Please let this end, please let this end." At one point, a helicopter swooped through the valley and rescued a hiker who'd fallen, not far behind us, off of the trail. That didn't help my anxiety much.
Finally, finally we reached the bottom of the valley. From there I could appreciate the majesty of the environment and give my knees a little break. I was happy to meander along a little river for a while before we started another gradual ascent.
But ascending could mean only one thing: more descending was soon to follow. We made out way up, up, up, and then in blazing heat we made our way down for the last descent of the trip on our way into the town of Zams. I was going at a snail's pace with knees and feet that hated me for making them take steps. But finally we arrived, made lodging arrangements, and had a big satisfying meal and cold beers. And like I'd told myself all day long, I was really proud of myself for completing such a challenging hike. Zams was beautiful. A private hotel room all to ourselves felt wonderfully indulgent. A hot shower and fresh towels for each of us (we'd had one towel between the two of us the previous couple days) was heaven. Having experiences like this with Barry is pretty much all I ever want to do - but I definitely would not have said that if you asked me in the middle of this particular hike.