Tag Archives: Hiking

For the Love of Annecy

Welcome to Annecy, a village as tranquil as its name. 

With an abundance of natural beauty paired with an overwhelming share of local history, Annecy stands as the perfect embodiment of French serenity. 

The leaves whisper age-old secrets under the shade of the Chapeau de Napoleon mountain as a collection of boats draw arrows across the everchanging hues of Lac d’Annecy. The sun, rising before seven in the morning and setting after eight at night, warms my skin and protects my limbs from the chill of lake-side wind. 

Perfect, this push and pull of light and air across my reclined body. 

Life in France is easy, though the language can be hard. In one way, it is easier for me than German, as I understand most of what is said to me. But as such, I feel compelled to speak only in French rather than simply ask for English. Thus, I am restricted to the present tense and short-jolted sentences. Mais, c’est la vie. 

Even with my restrictions, the language flows easier every day. Annecy is the perfect place for practice, and I am grateful for the opportunity. 

I am staying with family friends who have been more than welcoming (the stereotype of french bitterness is certainly false in this case), and it is incredible to get to know the quaint village in the hands of a family that has lived here for over a century. 

Words

The words, les mots

balance delicate between my molars.

Sentences running through my head

& dissolving in the drums of my ears.

Yes-ja-oui. je comprend,

mais je ne parle pas bien.

C’est difficile yet enbodied,

like a past-life memory 

begging to erupt. 

You asked me to speak to you.

These same words falling from my lips

& into yours.

Sultry, you said, the way I say

le pomme. The apple.

The sin that started it all. 

Were you the sin that started all of this?

Or was I?

Each day I repent. 

Washing and willing my body back

through time. Back, 

to when my French was not perfect

but fresh 

& you were nothing but a someday fantasy. 

Back to where I can forget 

& remember all over again.

Where I can seize the important letters 

& keep them. 

Where I can realize our last embrace

& leave it. 

Where I can teach myself the value of each moment.

Knowing these foreign affairs 

have foreign ends, 

& in their triumph find us

different as fire and powder.

A kiss we cannot consume,

my body strewn out 

& beaten by its hold on sanity.

Head swirling with words 

& memories I no longer own.

I know now, no matter what you tell me,

no infinity lasts. 

So I’ve taught my mind to collect them,

touching their bumps like braille,

for I can no longer see you.

& in this mourning, I learn

how to curve my lips into a smile for another

& to curl my tongue around what I used to know.

The city is delicate, with ancient stone lining roads built eons before their pavement was first graced by motors. With my gracious hosts, I am led through the small passages of the old village center.

We walk slowly, and this time it feels natural. I don’t mind the pace when the alps surround me, when there is so much new air to breathe, and history to be told. 

10 heure, the agreed-upon time to mount the mountain and view the lake from a new angle. 

Not too early or too late, the morning sun hung behind sparse clouds, breaking through with biblical rays and gracing us at the precipice of our ascent. 

It was only after twenty minutes that I began to sweat, and as they say, when it rains- it pours. Soon my breathing turned to panting and excitement turned to concentration on the rocks and roots forming a natural staircase ahead. 

Thankfully, another twenty minutes of this uphill battle brought us to the summit. The grand reprieve of open air and picturesque landscape. A panoramic view of Annecy and its surrounding villages that encircle the magnificent lake of the same name.

Incredible. 

The clearing where we found our rest used to be home to a great hotel and restaurant. Patrons would take a boat from the Annecy city center across the lake, where they would mount a cable car to complete the journey to the mountain’s peak. 

The building imposed upon the edge of the cliff, boat-like terrace facing the water while windows inside allowed guests to look in every direction. 

Unfortunately, 2001 brought about the destruction of this impressive structure. Now the flat-topped peak is home to three benches and a sign signaling the past existence of the hotel. Concrete posts erupt from the earth shallowly, like an echo of what once was. 

There, I sat. Closing my eyes and breathing in the fresh, thin air exhaled from the forest around me. I thought about all of the people who must have sat just here, centuries past, looking at the same view. 

Peak

How many legs and fingers

have crawled up and over this edge?

This green-faced mountain with

tumbling chin veering over its own body.

Beard long, clustered, and wooden,

Swinging and singing with the breeze.

And when it grows too long, the crest

purges its lungs with fire,

Charred ash floating like clouds.

This air is not for you or me,

this thick smoke means go,

But we never listen. We stay,

slicing through skin and bone with serrated edge.

Taking the silent severance of limbs as a sign of progress.

Building and breaking over stony back,

climbing again, where we are doomed to fall.

Escape to Eibsee

In that sweet space, those first inches warmed by the sun’s stare, I float. 

Back flat against the cooler depths and the fish that dart below. Head amid my own flourish of sunlight, I close my eyes and listen.

Much like my afternoon at Starnberger See, my ears cling to the flutter of birds and their leaves, catching the music. Much like that afternoon, I feel at peace in the nature that overwhelms industrial growth. 

Yet, in contrast to the serene solitude of Starberger, Eibsee is populated by a metropolis of visitors. The young and the old stretch their arms in large arcs propelling their paddle boards, cycle their legs in the dual seats of paddle boats, or simply rest their sun-soaked bodies on the rocks. 

In my own drifting rest, I am joined by a duck. Traveling alone like me, she makes no sound as she splits waves with her soft and straight brown feathers. 

Her orange-ringed beak smiles at me, an exchange likely a symptom of my solo travel. All the same, I witness a sense of peace between the lake’s dwellers and its inhabitants. A passing recognition of life and a contentment in this coexistence. 

Climbing the white-spotted sky is the Zugspitze, claiming the title of the tallest mountain in Germany. At its top, you can see Austria’s alps sitting opposite the Eibsee. 

My mind cues Roger Moore, The Spy Who Loved Me, carrying Bond’s ski poles in wild crescents and planting them unconvincingly in the sharp and snowy decline. His Hollywood-blown hair cut with faint blue in front of the Apls’ chilled white. 

The real scene was filmed in the Swiss Alps, mere miles from Zugspitze’s peak. 

Even in the Summer, Zugspitze is sparkled in snow for those who take the cable-car ride to its top. Below the dusted snow, the rest of us bathe in Eibsee’s warmed waters. Rocks make up the shore that lines Eibsee’s crystal refreshment, the worthy payout for its long journey. 

In Munich, I rose at a respectable 8:15, meeting my friends in the kitchen for a coffee before we departed. Five people in a small station wagon took to the autobahn, dropping a few at their stops along the way. 

I passed the time in the fields we swept through. On either side, sprawling meadows were sprinkled with clusters of black forest trees, guarded by the Alps’ shifting shade. 

An hour took us to Garmisch, the town that greets Eibsee and the mountains that surround its valley. Its streets are home to quaint Bavarian living interrupted by two American military bases. 

Hosting diplomats and foreign ambassadors, Garmisch’s charm comes in its traditional architecture and friendly culture. It is clear the small town offers some of the best of the Bavarian countryside. 

As we reached the entrance to Eibsee, an over-crowded parking lot turned the remaining 15 minutes of our drive into a 50-minute hike. I relished the opportunity to take off into the solitude offered by the tree-lined path through the forest. 

The grass green and tickling my shins gave way to lincoln-log houses and widely enclosed pasture spaces for cattle. This seemingly endless view met my feet aside the trickling river that runs through the forest’s clusters of trees. 

The abundance captivated my eyes but could not absorb the sweat crawling down the back of my neck. The untamed magnificence powerless to take the slight incline’s burning from my thighs or stop the sun from burning its blushing presence upon my shoulders. 

I blessed the trees who gifted me slivers of shade with their narrow stocks. 

Swatting bugs from my calves and grazing my forearm across my brow, the just over two-mile hike passed. The forest’s trees opened their congregation to the face of Zugspitze and a wink of the Eibsee. I made it. 

I could not wait any longer; taking the straight path, my legs did the thinking. 

Declining the final steps between my humid body and the much-deserved dive into the coolness promised by the glittering blue. Cascading pebbles followed me down the steep ledge as I used roots and rocks to make my way down the fifteen-foot drop to the shore. 

My striped and soaked shirt soon found rest next to my denim shorts tossed on the edge of a larger stone as my body embraced the long-awaited depths. 

Hungry and tired, I took my body out of the water to lay my towel across the smoothest patch of rocks I could find. My legs collapsed as I silently reached for yesterday’s schnitzel and kasespatzle, and I quieted my aching stomach. 

Despite their desired flatness, the sharp curves beneath me made their own peaked mountain range. This lake-side rest lacking the same softness as that of its water, Eibsee beckoned. 

Here I find myself. Hovering in the brief space that collects the sun. Blissful among the rest of nature.

The Cycle of Your Water

The crisp kiss of that familiar.

That crystal sameness,

embracing your limbs as you fall,

collecting the current of your hair as you curl.

This lapping at your feet is only the hearth of home

when you are consumed,

when drowned in its depths, your

eyes closed and trusting the surface’s clarity extends

through its dark waters.

But you have to blink,

to check,

to open your swollen eyes. 

This infinite moment proves momentary, 

severed from your skin

as you drip the way 

it lingers. 

Left shivering and cold,

you look back.

Glance the mixed truth in its waves,

glare at your rippling reflection.

Only the perfect temperature

when surrounded, its

playful splashes touch you,

making falling moments cling to flesh.

You want to give in.

To jump.

To crawl back into that weightless place.

That hope.

But as you drip dry,

goosebumps replace its droplets

take their own slow moments to

disappear into your skin as

your toes curl

gripping the earth,

letting its harsh edges take you

to a new shore.