Once again I had to wake up early, and I headed out the door stumbling tired. René dropped me off back at the pub on his way to work, and I grabbed a pastry and started heading in the direction of the Gotthard. Before I got out of town, I was temporarily shrunk by a giant bench. It was a pretty nice morning but my clothes were still wet, so after two kilometers I stopped on a bench and laid down and put my wet clothes over me and got a couple of hours of sleep while they dried. When I got up around 10, I ran about 7 km to the next town and stopped to buy some tape and ibuprofen for both my ankles. I was feeling a bit of pain, so I figured I would take the precautionary measure. I also finally bought two 'Mach 3' razor heads to replace the two that I have used for the entirety of the trip thus far (they were getting a bit dull).
Then I started running. The run to Andermatt was beautiful as well, but I had to gain 1000 meters of elevation this day, so at times it was a bit difficult. I have no idea how fast I was running, but sometimes even though I was pushing hard I felt like I wasn't moving at all. It wasn't really the kind of day to rush, so I took it kind of easy. Apart from a few lesser grade hills, it was kind of like doing that hill at the Rockies (state park outside of NYC)...except it lasted for the length of the entire loop. It wasn't actually THAT bad though. I found myself not cursing the uphills, but rather the down. "I just ran up a 20 minute hill, and now you're making me lose much of that effort in 5?!"
I ran over a bunch of amazing old stone bridges, including the famous "Devil's Bridge." I got into Göschenen around lunchtime, only a few kilometers from Andermatt and decided to stop and get something to eat. The problem with small towns in Europe though is that the grocery store is closed during lunchtime, so I had to wait until 2 to get something to eat that didn't cost 25 francs. After I ate, I started heading up towards Andermatt, walking for a few kilometers to let my food settle before starting to run again.
As I got into town, I went by the old church that René had shown me a picture of the evening before...I went in and was lucky to find him still there working on the restoration. It was pretty cool running halfway up a mountain pass and seeing the same person that I had left in the morning a few hours before. I spoke with René for a while, and he gave me some water and fruit to snack on, and I headed out of town to find the river that I had been criss-crossing all day. I wanted to go in. I found it, and under a shining sun I took one of the most glorious ice baths I could ever imagine. When I got out, I spent an hour or so walking around the rocks and hills surrounding the town, finding many curious doors and chimneys coming out of the sides of the rocks.
When I got into town, I went into the "61" Internet kiosk and cafe, and wrote my blog entry for the day before. There I met Bernie, the guy who was running to the shop, and we started talking about my trip. Before saying goodbye, I asked if he knew where I might be able to find a place to shower and sleep and he immediately offered me a place at his house. His English was perfect, and we spent the evening talking about all sorts of crazy things. He has gone on many bike rides and treks over thousands of kilometers, through India, Asia and Europe. He also has a hobby of finding crystals in the mountains here, and it was pretty crazy to see some of the stuff that he has dug up...things that seem to perfect and geometric to be natural. It was pretty cool to think that he was the first person to set an eye on these rocks...thousands or millions of years after their creation. We had some tea together and he told me about much of the history and myths behind the region. I asked him about the chimneys and doors that I had seen all day, and he informed me that a huge portion of the mountainside here is hollowed out for military facilities...supposedly large enough to host thousands upon thousands of people. The idea of a subterranean city below the Alps is just incredible. I wanted to get a flashlight and a crowbar and do some exploring...but I think that will have to be a future trip.
17 July 2009