The White Mountains

Whenever I happen to be in my home village in Carinthia and look out of one of the windows I can see lots of peaks. On the left side of the photo you can see the Mittagskogel which is on the Carinthian/Slovene border, with a height of 2,139 m, and the Dobratsch, with a height of 2,139 m - some smaller formations in between them.

All of them belong to the Alps, stretching over 1,200 kilometres from Austria and Slovenia in the East through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany, to France in the West. The highest mountain is Mont Blanc, at 4,808 metres. The name "Alps" is said to come from the Latin "alba" meaning "white".

As a child, I would go hiking with my parents from May till August almost every second weekend (as my mother was a passionate hiker), setting off very early, at around 5 am and come home in the late afternoon.

What I enjoyed most about these outings was the flora and fauna, the pasque flowers, the buttercups, the Alpenrose which was my mother's favorite, the gentians, and the marmots, salamanders and chamois. It was fun to search for all those snail and shell fossils dating back 200 millions of years. I loved the silence, the humming of the bees in the rich meadows, the scent of the wild flowers, the packed meals consumed below the summit crosses, very often in rough weather, and the stops in some wooden huts where we would get a square meal or some of those sweet specialities like Kaiserschmarrn.

You can walk now almost all the way across the Alps via the Via Alpina. One of the trails leads to the location where "Oetzi" the Iceman, was found.

The white Alps were already described by William Wordsworth in his "Descriptive sketches taken during a pedestrian tour among the Alps":

But lo! the Alps ascending white in air,
Toy with the sun and glitter from afar.

There's a video from the Mittagskogel trail, interestingly in honor of Ted Kennedy. I don't find the music suitable for the area, but that's a matter of taste.


Lydia said...

I loved this post, Francessa. Your view is spectacular from your childhood home. And the memories of your family outings in the mountains sound like heaven to me. Your mother sounds like a wonderful woman. And you actually saw chamoix on your hikes?! When the Olympics were held in Albertville the mascot was le chamoix and my mother and I fell in love with the animal and the sound of the word!
The video is gorgeous, and I appreciated the height in feet as well to learn that the hiker was over 7,000' at that point. The trail is very rustic...almost no trail at all. I do wonder about the dedication to Sen. Kennedy and guess they used the Emperor Waltz because they referred to him as emperor. I agree with you about the music selection, as my mind sees parties and people dressed in finery when I hear it (and it reminds me of the New Years Day broadcast from Vienna!)

francessa said...

Lydia, sometimes there were big herds of chamoix and it's real nice to observe their gracious movements.

I think you're right about the reason for the selection of music. I'd have preferred Mozart or something totally different like Loreena McKenna or Amy MacDonald.

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