How far will an author go for the story? About 9000 feet above sea level.
This past July I found myself on the side of the Similaun Mountain wondering what I had gotten myself into. I earned an Excellence in Education grant from my county that supported the cost of getting me into that predicament. The purpose - to see what Ötzi saw and get a better feeling for how to end book 2, Shroud Of Ice, with his actual murder. What I found was a wonderful friendship with my advising archeologist, Dr. Walter Leitner, I found beautiful views, I experienced the fury of the mountain, and I got to meet Ötzi himself.
Here's what I now know - an author will go way beyond a comfort zone if the itch of the story calls to do so.
The mountain climb up started at 8am on July 24 in a slight rain. By 10 am we were quite wet.
We were passed by herds of sheep wandering the slopes and path. Springs gushing down the side of the mountain created waterfalls that pushed downhill to the raging river below. The 75 varieties of moss and lungwort that mapped out Ötzi's final hike were green and amazing with their innate ability to grow in rough terrain.
The mountain always has been available to life in its various forms. When we trek outside our comfort zone, we see the strength in beauty that keeps life rather simple.
How grateful I was for the crucifix marking the proximity to a hutte where we could stop for a bowl of soup. How warm a friendly smile from another hiker felt when we met. How incredibly stubborn I am when the need arises. Life as it should be - simple.
With two hours to go before reaching our final destination of the day, we had to decide - go and see where Ötzi was found or head straight to shelter. From being wet most of the day, we headed to the Similaun Hutte. The last hour and a half, assured us that was the best decision. If we had taken the path to his monument, I would have suffered even more from hypothermia and possibly not made it. Sometimes those simple decisions are the best.