Miscommunication can be blissful. I had profound realization of this nugget of wisdom on our hike today plus learned a few other good little tidbits. We had a great thirty-six hour mini road trip this weekend. It was fun and we saw some new sights and currency, learned a few things and ate a lot of non-husband approved food. We are getting closer to daily food compromise. Sadly, I think I have broken him a bit, but I really appreciate his tenacity in the “we must eat reasonably healthy arena” and I do feel better. Thirty-six hours of Falafel and Pommes (I have yet to have bad fries here and they are served with mayo and ketchup and other delightful, caloric sauces) and Swiss sausage and lots of bread and butter and cheese and beer and I needed to sweat…it…out. I needed to pay the piper. A good hike would be my penance.
I conveyed my need for a hike to Scott and he thought it a great idea (I’m usually suggesting a walk to the bakery). He even had a plan. We would take the chairlift up to Kolbensattel and the alpine playground to start our hike (of course it’s a twenty minute walk to the chairlift). He said and I quote, “We can hike to the third summit cross that we missed last time and then we can get lunch at Purschling Haus.” This was better than I imagined, a short hike, maybe three hours (it’s relative folks, the long hikes are five plus hours) with lunch on the trail and of course Bier on the way back after the hard part. I was so happy. I wanted my penance! I didn’t even have anything to say. I was so agreeable, I packed the backpacks with water bottles (no snacks needed, just ate breakfast and lunch was at max three hours away) and gathered up hats and sunglasses. I didn’t even bark at the kids about getting their own stuff together and we headed out the door.
The chairlift ride was relaxing and the first forty five minutes of the hike was on a wide flat trail through a forest that we had walked before. I tromped along behind everyone as usual; two men passed me on the trail, one much older than the other. I heard one of them say something and I thought maybe that they were talking to each other, but something made me turn around and tell the older man that I only spoke a little German but wondered if he was talking to me. He rattled something off in German and I asked him to slow down. He must have heard the kids chattering because he wanted to know where I came from. I told him America, California. They wanted talk about California.
One of them was an artist. He created sculptures with wooden bases and pottery tops. His wife’s friend was from Sacramento and had recently visited and taken twenty of his pieces back to Sacramento to sell in her shop. The other man, a much older gentleman (eighties at least, hiking is a lifetime sport around here) told me he had a friend in the Los Angeles area, Santa Monica to be exact. He wanted to visit this friend, but would have to go alone because his wife wouldn’t travel. He’d been to New York and loved it there. I told him Los Angeles was nothing like New York, he said it didn’t matter, his friend was in Los Angeles and so that was the place for him. The artist told me as he gestured to his hiking buddy, “He is always building castles in Spain.” He was a daydreamer. I looked up the saying and couldn’t find a lot of information about it. The consensus is that the saying is outdated and probably more British since it is a French saying, “Batir Châteaux en Espagne”. The explanations range from Spain being a region of romance in old French literature and a castle in Spain would be a lover’s escape from the world to a story involving King Charlemagne and his conquest attempts in Spain in the 8th century. Regardless of the origin of the saying, it was clear that it was not a complement. I thought about “building castles in Spain” as I jogged down the trail to catch up with my family.
I was still happy. I had just had an interesting conversation and had a new quote and it was a beautiful day. I was far behind and so by the time I had caught up, I was in a full sweat, my knees were even sweating, but that was okay because they were waiting for me at the Purschling Haus which was maybe twenty minutes from the third summit cross. Lunch was in range, maybe an hour. After you pass the Purschling house the trail gets rougher and narrower so I spend more time looking at my feet. They were ahead of me again by the time I had made it to the ridgeline that we would walk along until the turn for our peak, not far now. I looked up and saw Scott far down the trail, past my turnoff. I must be getting to be quite the little hiker if he missed the trail and I didn’t. I shouted at him, “You missed the trail!” He stopped and looked back at me pointing towards the peaks to our right. “We’re going to the third cross,” his reply came back to me as he pointed down the trail to a hidden peak in the distance and kept going. Our miscommunication became apparent at that moment on that beautiful flowery ridgeline; we had different third crosses in mind.
My buoyant, lunch-bubble mood instantly deflated as I realized that food was hours away. I was familiar with the first part of this trail and it was challenging and I now understood the peak Scott meant. It was far away, he had seen it in the distance from one of the peaks on our last hike in the area and semi-joked about hiking to it on that day. My stomach growled, I had no snacks (I thought I had one Kind bar in the depths of my backpack), I didn’t think we would need them. So, an important lesson here and one that I should have already learned from hiking with Scott; bring snacks. It doesn’t matter what he tells you, just bring something to eat.
I was irritated enough to catch up to Scott and Ashley eventually. It didn’t seem to bother him, he just commented on how beautiful this “new to us” section of the trail was and wondered if we could recreate it somehow in our backyard. “I wish you would have told me that we were going on this length of a hike,” I whined. “I did. I said let’s go the third cross and you agreed.” I suppose he had a point. I think it was honest miscommunication on his end and wishful miscommunication on mine, but it was hard for to stay truly irritated in those surroundings. The landscape did look a little different and it was beautiful and by now we could see the tiny third cross on a peak in the distance. I decided to put on my big girl hiking boots and get this hike done.
The peak was beautiful and rocky and different from any other summit cross we have climbed to. I would have been sorry to miss it. The kids were happy, although a bit disappointed the lack of a snack at the summit. I didn’t have the Kind bar after all. I had looked for it in my backpack on the trail when Ashley said she was hungry and again at the summit. Ironically, I found a roll of lifesavers in the depths of my backpack that a thoughtful friend had given to the kids in a care package for the plane ride to Germany. I knew we weren’t truly hungry anyway; we have never been truly hungry.
Grant hiked ahead of us on the way back to the Purschling Haus. He is the fastest hiker among us now and enjoys the solitude. I hiked in front of Scott and Ashley. “You’re hiking faster now,” he commented. “I’m hiking faster because I’m hiking to food,” I remarked drolly. “You were always hiking to food, it was a loop.” True. I suppose one’s personal truth in most things is in one’s perception. I thought about the “castles in Spain” from the part of the hike where I was so energized at the thought of a relatively short hike (perspective again). I thought about the sweet, earnest look on the old man’s face as he talked about visiting California and the derisive comment from his companion. There is a part in a book I read about an older couple and their “basket of trips,” a basket filled with travel brochures that they would go through and talk about and dream about together.
Everyone has their castles and their baskets and I’m not sure why they have a negative connotation; is it because those things are unobtainable? I have seen the word “Dream” plastered on everything from posters to mugs to notebooks and beyond. So, which one is it? I think definitely dream; I want my castles and my baskets and even my blissful miscommunication occasionally. Of course these things will cause me disappointment, but they will also give me unexpected gifts and take me to places I would never find without them. Believe, dream, adjust and even when it’s not what you thought you wanted, there might be something interesting along the trail or a beautiful view or a new perspective to be found.
We met Grant at Purschling house for a drink and a pretzel and then back to Kolbensattel with fifteen minutes to spare and play on the zip lines before the last coaster down. We had given up on lunch and decided to look forward to pizza at our favorite little spot at the bottom of the mountain. It was a good day; I had sweated out all of my road trip food and learned a few things in the process. Miscommunication can be nice sometimes and dreaming is good. Oh yes, and the most important lesson of all (after seventeen years), pack snacks on hikes with Scott.
I hope that old man makes it to California. What his companion didn’t understand is that an eighty year old walking along a sidewalk in Santa Monica is not quite as inspiring as one hiking a remote mountain trail.