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Post details Post   (Expand pics)
CaptainVertigo
2012-10-26 22:02:00
"The View from Hotel Todiblick" from CaptainVertigo Expand pics
The View from Hotel Todiblick (Expand pics)
Donner und Blitzen
I have experienced thunder and lightning twice on the mountains. 1980 was the first time. A pair of us left Galway on an Interail expedition. We got as far as Switzerland where we went looking for a mutual friend who was working in the canton of Glarus, above Linthal, in a place called Braunwald. I can't remember what happened about the friend but Gerry and I ended up becoming farm labourers for a dairy farmer called Herr Streiff (as in "trouble n...") We lived in a real Swiss mountain chalet with the Streiffs and their eight kids. The mountains were amazing, especially when we got up in the morning in the high "Alphut" after a night sleeping in the loft over the bull (with his big bell) and the calves (with their little bells), and saw the mountains bathed in a red glow. (The cows, with their medium bells, were outside!) On Sundays we treated ourselves to a beer and chocolate at the Hotel Todiblick. Anyway Gerry became disenchanted after a few strenuous weeks and decided to move on. I stayed to earn a bit more. Then one Sunday night I was up at the Hotel Todiblick late and began the long walk back down the mountain paths to Streiffs. That's when it happened. Lightning like jets from flamethrowers. Massive claps of thunder. Everything lit up. Mad mad mountain music echoing and re-echoing between the mountains.. Drama on a massive scale. Fear for one's life. Shock n awe. It was one of the great experiences of my life: terrifying while it unfolded, but quite magnificent, on the grandest scale imaginable. The combination of mortal terror and stunning beauty is a heady mix which, when it ends, leaves one drained but strangely at peace. A bit like... a good Late Late Show.
The second encounter with lightning was on the Turks during a pewter dark day. Not as dramatic as the first, but memorable for its own reasons. I was co-leading a group of Navan Trekkers on our October weekend away when the skies darkened and all hell broke loose. We were on the bare rock summit of Knocknahillion and everyone dived (I refuse to say "dove") for cover, and trembled. My leadership was challenged by one of our elders who thought we should "get off the mountain in a hurry", fine in theory but utterly impossible in practice. I was getting ready to shoot him to steady the nerves of the rest of the crew when suddenly the explosions stopped as quickly as they had begun. One of our lady members piped up cheerfully: "Here comes the sun!" And guess what? I began to sing: "Little darling it's been a long cold lonely winter..." and one or two joined in, and then we all sang heartily "Here comes the Sun" and it was quite wonderful. I'm sure our ancestors had many a close shave with the elements, and in their own way, celebrated their good fortune when the sun shone again. Wandering about the wild places gives us a special way of connecting with those who walked before us.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JfgzMu2yHI
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