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Get Out and Walk, Already!

The Matterhorn as a Backdrop

by Theresa Gabriel, Expert Guide and Personal Coach

When my husband and I lived in Germany, we took a driving vacation into Switzerland. We spent some time in Zermatt, a vacation village in the shadow of the Matterhorn. No gas-powered vehicles are allowed in town, so we left our car a few miles down the road at Tasch. Zermatt consists mainly of restaurants and shops. Like most visitors, we hit the highlands during the day, and returned to civilization in the evening for a little fun. During our two full days in Zermatt, we planned to save the clearest day for the cog train ride to Gornergrat peak, far above everything except the Matterhorn. The consolation day was for a hike up a canyon just North of Gornergrat, where visibility would not be so important. 

The cog train ride up to Gornergrat was slow and beautiful. We arrived at the top of the mountain which is called “Red Nose” for good reason. On that July day, I made an awesome snow angel. I counted 12 major peaks and 9 active glaciers below me. My husband, who was startled that I had packed coats and gloves for us, was grateful for my insight. The view of the Matterhorn was unmatched. I soon found that it’s very difficult to snap a photo without any clouds around it, as the mountain visibly creates clouds on the leeward side. 

We were told that the train would make several trips up and down during the day, and we were advised to try to walk part of the way down. We met another young American couple and agreed to depart the train once we passed most of the snow. We would walk down until we either got to town, or got tired and could catch a train for the remainder of the ride to the bottom. We were the only four getting off the train. It was sunny and warm. The fields where we walked, far above everything, were green and full of wild flowers. 

We walked down the path and cut across open areas not worried about getting lost because we could see everything – where we were going and where we had been. We often got lost in conversation, sharing our traveling stories, our eyes in front of us on the hillside and on the path. Then one of us would raise our eyes to look at another in the face, and once again see the magnificent view. That’s when it would happen. “Oh God, the mountain behind you is amazing!” And the other would look up “Oh my gosh, look behind you. It’s beautiful.” This happened several times, and it became quite distracting to our conversation. So much so, that we took a hiking break and put down our packs. We agreed that we had to film this “Sound of Music Moment.” The guys got the video cameras ready and we gals ran over behind the rise of the hill in the direction of the Matterhorn. After given our cue, we came over the rise skipping, arms out, singing “The hills are alive . . . “. Due to lack of memory regarding the song lyrics and our hysterical laughter, we had four takes. 

We hiked all the way down the mountain. After all, it was downhill. Once in town, we decided that as tourists, we should also try the cheese fondue at one of the eating places. It wasn’t that good, but the company was. What a great day! 

Getting off the train to walk made our day in the mountains memorable. Sometimes it’s so easy to follow the crowd and stay on the train, or cruise ship, or whatever. It’s those times when I get out and walk that I discover the true spirit of the place I’m visiting. This applies to life too. I recently assisted at a girls' camp, and learned a new song. I’ve been singing it a lot lately because it reminds me to linger a little, and to enjoy where I am before it’s gone. (I’ll sing the melody to you if you give me a phone call!)

Mm, I want to linger
Mm, a little longer
Mm, a little longer here with you . . . 


Women Summit LLC - Life Discovery Tours - Women's Retreats


Paths began to beckon Theresa when she was 12, visiting the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming. Walking, dancing, and movement are a part of her, nourished by John Denver's musical challenge for her to "fly." She has walked up mountains and through forests in Wyoming, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. She's lived in Germany and has traveled extensively in Europe, even leading a pilgrimage. Her recent walks in the Grand Canyon and Alaska inspired her to begin her dream business of "walking with women." Learn more about Theresa Gabriel and her Life Discovery Tours at her web site. Women Summit LLC

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