Reflections from my three weeks hike through the Alps.
A silent day – walking through the Italian part of the mountains, mostly forest path and lonely churches on hills, only sounds of wind in trees and some birds and bees.
The few villages I crosses seemed empty, most houses with closed windows and doors, no one on the streets. Loud silence.
I met four people today: The owner of the mountain hut where I started my walk in the morning, an old man showing me the right direction in one of the empty villages, Elisabethe, the tender of the only bar and hotel in another mountain village where I enjoyed a cappucino, and finally an elderly woman with her four constantly barking dogs, at whose house I rang to ask for filling my water bottle.
Other than that: No one on the road. Loud, loud silence.
The first half of the day I enjoyed it, I felt like merging with nature around, my energy field widening and my steps light and free.
In the afternoon, when I had already walked 6 hours, it got hotter and hotter, I got more and more tired and wondered why I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly anymore and as if I was swimming through thick soup instead of walking. I thought the air pressure must have changed, and some instinct urged me to walk on instead of resting.
At some higher point I understood why: At the other side of the valley the sky was black, thick dark clouds had gathered and looked so dangerous that fear struck me. And fascination.
Since I remember, I have a lot of respect of thunderstorms – when I am outdoors, and higher up, and alone: It becomes fear, almost panic.
I knew that I would have to walk another hour at least to reach some refuge hut or village. So I walked. Fast. Faster. Up and down hills. Feeling like I ran away from the storm.
And really, just before the wind got strong and rain started I reached the refuge hut – apparently a hunters union hut. It was closed, but I sat down under the roof in front of its door, after a while feeling a bit more relaxed because the thunderstorm didn’t get as strong as I had expected, and finally I could breathe fresh air again.
As it was late afternoon and I had anyway planned to camp wildly this night, I also examined the place to check whether it would be a good choice to set up my tent there.
And fear came again – because I have camped wildly, but never alone, and never in the Italian nowhere. The sky was still roaring like a hungry bear.
There was a small road to the next village close to the hut and actually quite some cars coming from time to time. I didn’t know what I should fear more: to be seen, or to be far off. Humans or nature? Both can cause fear, wake up a fear instinct in my oldest brain parts.
I double checked the place ten times until I found: Actually it’s good. I could hide my tent behind the hut on a flat ground, next to the hut was cut and dry firewood and a metal ton, a ton of rainwater and in front of me a wide open meadow so I could see the sky and sun would wake me up early. And through the trees, far behind, I think I saw the sea!
But also, there was a tree with two big metal hooks hanging from a branch – I figured it’s a hunters refuge and they used it for hanging the shot and cut animals.
I spent a long long time in this silence sensing the atmosphere of the place, and finally chose to stay.
What made me feel secure was the presence of all elements: Water, fire, stone, wood, and even a corn fruit hanging on a small tree next to the hut.
I remembered in Mexico corn itself is a deity – abuelo mais – and so I remembered to ask the elements to bless this place. I lit a small candle I had brought and burned some ghvia-wood from Georgia, as the scent always calms and opens me. I also used the smoke to clean a circle in which I had put my tent, and to ask for blessing the place and securing me here in the night.
And I sang some of the blessing, healing and soothing songs I have gathered from different cultures and languages in the last years.
All this made me feel a bit more calm, relaxed and trustful. And earth said inside me: You are my child, you are held. It’s your right to rest on me. Anywhere.
Now some stars blink into my tent and the wind sighs in the trees.
It’s not silence. It’s the constant conversation of the elements among each other, and I am invited to listen, so I learn to trust again.
P.S.: It’s the morning after. I didn’t sleep for more than a few half-hour sessions, instead I spent the most fearfully sleepless night since long. Now, in daylight, I understand why. Read the next post for some thoughts on trauma and freeze patterns, and how to center and regenerate yourself again.