When I was sixteen, my dad brought me along for a trip to Berchtesgaden with his lover. During one of our days there, they wanted to have some time to themselves. I welcomed having a day to explore on my own and decided to hike all the way to the top of Zugspitze. I didn’t know the first thing about hiking, pacing myself, proper shoes… and it never occurred to me to research beforehand how long the hike would take.
Late morning, I set off at a brisk pace, inevitably finding myself completely winded after a little less than an hour. Even worse, I was wearing new hiking boots and my feet were hurting as if they were being squeezed in a medieval torturing device. I could feel tenacity rising within me while I caught my breath. Nope, turning around was definitely not an option.
So I pushed on at the same rigorous pace. Half an hour later I felt myself unable to take another step. My lungs were burning and my feet felt as if I had stepped on multiple razor blades. I sat down on a bench and gingerly took off my socks. They seemed to have merged with my feet. Both feet were covered in blisters. Most of those had already been rubbed raw and blood was everywhere.
All the hikers I had overtaken on my way up so far, began catching up with me and gave me odd glances. Thankfully one of them stopped and, in a very practical approach, handed me some disinfectant wipes and plasters.
“You really need to slow down kid.” he said. “Get yourself patched up and then walk slowly enough so you can go the distance. From here it’s at least another four hours to the top.”
So I improvised my first ever field-dressing, gritted my teeth, and went on… step by step, by little slow-paced step.
I reached the summit about five hours later, handed my little Kodak Instamatic to another fellow hiker, and posed for this shot. Absorbing the magnificent landscape all around me with every fibre of my being I knew it had all been worth it. This was a sight and a feeling of sweet exhaustion and accomplishment to remember.