Climbing the mountain, breath by breath
Deciding against taking on the initial steep ascent, we ride the cable car high above the treetops on our way to the Roßstelle. When I was a child, I always imagined this fairytale forest to be home to all manner of fantastic mythical creatures. Following a series of trails and paths, we head into the valley basin of the Alpe Kanis mountain pasture. The whole area seems reminiscent of an American farmstead – wouldn’t it be the perfect backdrop for a Wild West movie? We press on past pines and mountain flowers before reaching the Wurzach Alpine pasture hut, where we have to resist the temptation to stop for an early snack break. The air is filled with the time-honoured sound of cowbells, which of course conjures up images of delightful summer days, lush Alpine meadows and happy cows. We can feel ourselves beginning to relax, letting the stress and worry melt away in favour of a new-found sense of freedom. It’s like experiencing air, light and colour therapy all in one! This leads us into the long, hot ascent, which is far from hazardous but still demands a certain level of physical fitness. At this point, it’s worth sparing a thought for those who struggle with their bodies and feel that they have lost contact with this part of themselves. After working up a sweat, panting with effort, going red in the face and feeling our muscles burn, we hikers happily experience no such problems. Whether we want to or not, we are now made to appreciate how breathing is indeed the most intensive of all bodily functions. Drawing deep for fresh air helps relieve inner tension and drive out negative emotions. Reaching the Holenke crest, we are rewarded with our first real high of the day: the sudden change in the scenery sees a vista open up in front of us with the promise of freedom, a touch of the sublime and even a sense of longing. We look out over the little villages lined up in a row, the waters of Lake Constance, the peaks of the Tyrolean Alps, the glistening white Swiss mountains and even faraway Germany. Though the final ascent may appear short, it has a real sting in the tail. As it winds its way up, the air grows progressively thinner and compels many a wavering hiker to call it a day. Provided we can dig deep and push ourselves, we are soon rewarded with a rush of endorphins that is particularly effective at quelling aggression. All those who reach the summit greet one another with a sense of shared achievement: passionate mountain hikers, hiking groups, whole families and children celebrating their first big mountain adventure. They’ll never forget the day they conquered this 2,000-metre colossus.