The Swiss Alps top my list for sheer beauty and grandeur. Amazing. Breathtaking. One of my memories of my time there always makes me laugh because it shows how amazingly, breathtakingly dumb I was that day. I had read and heard about one particular mountain named Mannlichen and got the great idea to hike up it. Great exercise, no? Something like hiking up the “mountain” near my home, about a half-hour jaunt. The day Meg and I arrived at the base of Mannlichen, the mountain was entirely engulfed by clouds. Visibility was just a few feet in front of us. We stood at the base, determined to ignore the light rain, and tried to read the German signs. We didn’t know any German, but I shrugged and figured we could do it. So we set off having no idea what was up in the clouds.
We hiked. We got wet. We got wetter. We hiked some more. We got soaked. After about a half hour I figured we must be nearing the summit. (Did I mention what a dumb plan this was?) We were getting tired and tired of being wet when we rounded a bend and happened onto a construction crew of several men. They looked at us with surprise. “Mannlichen?” I pointed up, not knowing anything but the name of this hill. They pointed to our wet tennies. They looked incredulous. Then they laughed. And laughed. Their words were lost on us, but obviously there was something wrong (and amusing).
Figuring the problem was that we lacked true hiking shoes, we decided to turn around. We descended, found a cozy little café in town and sat by the fire and consumed the yummiest hot tomato soup.
Filled and warmed and somewhat drier, we emerged from the café to find that the cloud had lifted and — there was Mannlichen! Massive Mannlichen. Very tall Mannlichen.
We finally found a few people who spoke some English and learned that the way to go up Mannlichen in a storm is to take the TRAM. Ah! Who knew? And we happily loaded into the tram and whooshed up to the top.
See the tiny village with the yummy tomato soup, far, far below?
And even further below . . .
Sometimes I’ve started off on some figurative trails with about as much sense as I displayed in the alps. Signs were posted but I couldn’t or didn’t read them. People were around who could have counseled but I didn’t ask.
Are you facing a mountain? Or just a small hill? Maybe it’s time to gather advice, listen, consider the next steps. And if you decide to hike up, get the proper shoes. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)