That was what I started to call it on our afternoon climb yesterday: Brigadoon. We knew how far we had to go, yet Splügen seemed to not be real because the climb never seemed to end. We just continued through forests and glades, no town in view, and literally didn't stop climbing until we reached the hotel door. Fortunately, it had been a beautiful climb.
Our day started in Pontresina. We went through St. Moritz, the famed ski town playground for the rich and famous, but we frankly weren't impressed. Pontresina was much prettier. From there, we started climbing immediately up to and over the Julierpas. Then came a long, long descent through beautiful, pastoral valleys and gorges.
After a lunch stop in Thusis, we started our ascent to Splügen, a very small village. For most of the way, we passed through one gorge after another formed by the Hinterhein River. From one bridge crossing one of the gorges, I spread more of Mark's ashes. The following photograph doesn't really do justice to the place, but it is a commemoration of one more special place on the journey I've been on for the past week.
My friends, Ross and Patti, pulled up on their tandem just after I had released the ashes. They approved of the spot, which meant a lot to me because they had known Mark for a long time, Ross having been one of Mark's ER partners. Later that afternoon, some time after we had arrived at our hotel in Splügen, they approached me as I was coming back into the hotel after having gone on a walk.
"Joseph," Patti exclaimed, "you must come and see this heart-shaped rock in the river!" She was referring to the Hinterhein River that flows through town, then goes on to form the gorges to the north. Together, the three of us walked down to a bridge. There, Patti showed me the rock, as if it was yet another sign:
It is always intensely gratifying to me when people honor the love that Mark and I felt for one another.
Here are some photos I took on my walk around Splügen late yesterday afternoon.