You Get What You Pay For in the Italian Alps

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Sept. 2003

The aroma of wildflowers, warmed by the summer sun, permeated the thin, alpine air. Their delicate beauty accompanied the fragrance, and by rolling my head from side to side I was presented with two different bouquets—red and blue to the right, yellow and white to the left. The lovely Edelweiss mirrored the wispy clouds floating in the intensely blue sky. The Italians appropriately call them “Star Flowers.” Not only do they look like stars, but they’re only found in extreme elevations.

Getting to the alpine lakes was grueling. Parts of the 7-mile trail were pretty steep, and we gained over 3,500 feet during the three-hour hike to our destination. The exhilaration of completing the hike was worth the price of the professional guide, and the masses of beautiful wildflowers in their pristine environment made it more than worthwhile; the memory of a lifetime comes a lot closer. Breaking out our new digital camera on its inaugural adventure, I got some good pictures. Alas, none compare to just being there.

Following a lunch of hard cheese, salami, and fruit, washed down with water from icy alpine springs, we saw the forebodingly dark clouds characteristic of afternoons in the Alps. Our small group retreated to the safety of lower elevation, the domain of noisy cowbells, smelly animals, and their cheerful herders. I never would have been able to find my way up there alone, and marvel at how insignificant the cost was in relation to the enjoyment of that day.