At school they were the best of friends. Then time and distance drew them apart. During a hike to the summit of the Winterstaude mountain, four ladies discover what still unites them after all these years.
Though the fog is rolling in, the final two stages of the “Hasenstrick” ridgeline are all that stand between us and the completion of our tour. To our left, a sheer rock face drops into the depths. To our right, an equally steep Alpine meadow plummets sharply. Taking a moment to exhale and take stock, it’s clear that we’ll need to be extremely careful from here on out. As I pause, my gaze extends upward to the sharply curved summit of the Winterstaude. Though I have admired this cone-shaped peak all my life, cloaked in mist it’s never appeared so mysterious. Normally, Schetteregg is an excellent vantage point. But today, the hilly Alpine foothills all the way to Germany are obscured by a thick wall of fog. Like an incessantly breaking wave that doesn’t advance, the mist rises from the basin at our left, whilst a light breeze from the right drives it back down. Behind me, I hear the rustle of footsteps as my girlfriends approach. As hikers, we’re sure-footed and experienced in the mountains. And yet the light fog and the steepness of the ridge combine to make the next 100 m truly gripping. “Stay positive ladies, we’ve almost made it,“ says my friend Cathrin encouragingly. Thus far everything has gone according to plan: even the drive through the Rheintal valley was a breeze. Though Natalie, Cathrin, Elisabeth and I have known each other since school days, in the last few years meetings have been limited to Christmas time. Having gone our separate ways in life, there is always so much to share. We take the cable car from Bezau to the Baumgarten mountain station before setting off towards the peak of the Winterstaude. We’re not in any particular hurry: after all, we’ve set aside the whole day to spend together.