The plane landed in Zurich on time after a harried journey on train, taxi and plane from Dublin. We took the zug south to Interlaken squeezing ourselves, our gear into the commuter rush of Bern and towns in between. Dusk fell as we arrived in Interlaken and came together with far flung friends. A wedding ensued of fairytale dimensions in a castle watched over by famous Alpen peaks like Eiger and Jungfrau. A sunset barely believable blazed across the sky and coloured the waters of the lakes and tinged the peaks pink high above our heads.
The following day dawned too early. Paragliders cast shadows about the room as I lay there and they floated in the air outside. I rose because time in this idyll was short. Making my way across the highway and out of town, the trees and slopes beyond pulled me towards them with their preternatural power. I needed to get beyond the concrete.
It wasn’t a walk of epic proportions just a simple journey through woods, rambling with no map. I followed only my nose and a well worn path. Eventually I found a sign guiding me somewhere. I was on a ‘Wanderweg’, a path, a trail, a way in other places. I thought of all the trails I’ve taken, too many to count and how they’re marked from one country to the next. Markers assuredly pointing your direction or confirming your location. I thought of wandering, to wander. I loved the sound of the word in my head and the feelings it conjured. Cow bells clanged and farmers brought their wares to small almost pre industrial creameries as I passed through a valley called Wilderwil. I sat on a red bench and watched the valley below through trees while trying futilely with my bare eyes like I always do, to see if I could spy someone on the faraway peak.
Aimlessly like in that celebrated poem I was on a mini journey with no set destination or purpose, only to wander. I was far removed from rush to a train or office or even a hike from one wilderness camp to another. My only reward came from an unpredictable trail that went higher and the surprise of what came around the next corner. Sunlight filtered through trees and sheep darted skittishly as I approached. The Schynige Platte Railway car rumbled past in the distance and I caught a glimpse as it’s flash of red peeked through the green not quite autumnal forest. The path forked and I chose the left fork, hardly pausing to think about where a wander to the right might go.
I could hear life in little towns echoing around me with their urban hum bouncing off granite walls that towered higher up. I felt hidden and anonymous in my way through the forest. Here and there freshly stacked wood piles lay as subtle reminders that despite the childlike wanderings of my mind this place wasn’t my little secret Light started to fade so I sat for a moment, watching, listening, feeling. Promising the self I’d come back. I rose to leave turning around to go back the way I had come. Looking at the Wanderweg in reverse and seeing it anew. There is liberty, lightness and worth in wandering.