Daring to Fly in the Swiss Alps

Daring to Fly in the Swiss Alps

I’ve heard people say that the superhero power they would most like to possess is being able to fly. As for me, dizzily clinging to hand holds on steep mountain trails, sweating on airport runways, and battling nausea on rooftop observation decks, flight has never been an aspiration. Recently, however, craving freedom from events that conspired to weigh me down, I reconsidered my relationship with gravity and decided to fly in the Swiss Alps.

I longed to unburden myself and experience the sensation of flight, leaving demands and heading toward adventure. I dreamed of new places and no obligations. I even tried to convince myself of the solace of solo travel, though it had been years since I had ventured alone. With no plans, and last minute momentum, I found a single opening on a Pink Pangea women’s hiking and writing retreat in the Swiss Alps. Being an avid hiker and visual journalist, I knew this trip would be my antidote, and in the spirit of rapid remedy, my travel plans were implemented on a moment’s notice.

I never dreamed that my metaphorical flight would turn into a literal one. But one day, struggling to keep up with a guide hauling a paraglider up a steep hill under high altitude sunshine, I found myself face to face with my fear of heights.

Daring to fly in the Swiss Alps

Only after I impulsively hit the ‘submit’ button on my computer did it begin to sink in that I had made a solid commitment to spending a week in Switzerland with a group of strangers. Due to the nature of a writing retreat, I guessed we would be sharing more than bedrooms and baths. I made a few brief inquires and found that many of my fellow travelers were half my age. I wondered if I would fit in, but I didn’t hesitate or change course. I was determined to begin my winged overture in the company of other soloists.

Daring to Fly in the Swiss Alps!

I never dreamed that my metaphorical flight would turn into a literal one. But one day, struggling to keep up with a guide hauling a paraglider up a steep hill under high altitude sunshine, I found myself face to face with my fear of heights, as I prepared to sail through the Alps on a literal wing and a prayer.

Rolf, my tandem guide, stretched the yellow paraglider sail across the hilltop, then handed me a green woolen cap as I watched others don their hard helmets. When I balked at this, he dismissed helmets as perfectly useless in an actual crash. The green cap, he stated, would keep me protected from the chilly Alpine winds, and would be helpful in case we bonked heads while jumping off the cliff.

“I’m flying”, I yelled. Rolf echoed my cries: “She’s flying”, he crowed. “She’s crazy!”

Contemplating the possibility of concussion while running to the edge of an eight hundred meter cliff, I listened for Rolf’s cue, then raced with him to the precipice until my feet left the ground. I imagine they were still in motion as I began to soar over the Lauterbrunnen Valley, with my head all in green, and my body surrounded by blue sky and white-capped mountains.

“I’m flying”, I yelled. Rolf echoed my cries: “She’s flying”, he crowed. “She’s crazy!”

Together, we belted out the chorus of “I believe I can fly”, and then he proceeded to steer me right up to the highest waterfall in Switzerland.

Fear turned to exhilaration, transformed into a sense of belonging with water, wind, rock, and sky. Perspective gained new meaning as I realized that a spectator below might view me as small, but my heart and soul were living large.

It has been about a month since I took that leap of faith and dared to fly, but the impact of the experience continues to inspire me. My travels reminded me of what I know to be true, but sometimes forget. I can be brave, I can conquer my fears, I can trust that the spirit of adventure and the kindness of strangers will guide and support me. And, ultimately, I can believe in myself. I am after all, a bonafide Superwoman with the power to fly.

Flying in the Swiss Alps!

IMG_0144

Top photo credit: Yardena Schwartz

About Wanderweg Woman

Wanderweg WomanWanderweg Woman loves to spend her free time hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her four legged companion, a Labrador mix of cute and trouble. Her travel goal is to explore every continent.

One thought on “Daring to Fly in the Swiss Alps

  1. Veronica Fernandez
    August 17, 2016
    Reply

    This is an amazing story of hope, growth and inspiration.
    Thanks for writing it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top
Loading...