Day two in Switzerland found us in the middle of a “storm”. Or, at least there was a storm in the mountains. With heavy wind warnings and blizzard like conditions, most of the higher mountain ski slopes were closed. Not wanting to forfeit another day of attempting to ski, we found another slope lower down the mountain -aimed at beginners -complete with lessons and schools aimed at the aged under ten group. It was perfect.
We did our best to stay out of their way -only barreling through their lessons once or twice, but proud to finally be upright, downhill on those narrow pieces of wood people refer to as skis. We were having so much fun, that we completely lost track of time. It wasn’t until about 4:15 that we realized -the last train off the mountain to our town left at 4:40. This meant we had no time to discuss the logistics, we had to move!
I grabbed three pairs of skis, Amanda grabbed a few others and the poles. David took up the rear with the kids…and we began our run to the train station. Now the station itself was a short distance away, but running in ski boots -with your arms full of skis and poles is not a journey for the faint at heart. Amanda and I ran as fast as we could with David yelling out directions from behind. We arrived at the station a fair pace ahead, but spotted our train and sighed relief.
All the other times we had caught the train -it came in a few minutes early allowing for travelers to get all their skis and gear onboard. Since we had a good 10 minutes yet, Amanda and I dropped our load of skis and poles on the train and Amanda jumped off to help David collect the kids and the rest of our assorted gear.
All was well…until suddenly…the train was moving.
The doors had shut and off I went. With six skis and five ski poles. Alone.
I laughed at first, because what else can you do? I assumed that the train was going back down the mountain and that the rest of my crew would hop on the next train (the last train?) after me. I assumed I had hopped on an earlier train that was heading down the mountain and all would be well. We’d laugh about it soon enough.
Except the train was going UP the mountain. Into the unknown. Into the storm territory. With me. And six skis and five ski poles. And all the train tickets. Alone. This naturally, started to panic me a bit. Would I be stranded on the mountain top? Was this the last train up the mountain? There weren’t going to be any others going DOWN the mountain -so what was I to do?
After a few minutes of nervously laughing and attempting to play it cool, I hatched a plan. I would simply get off at the next stop and catch the next train down the mountain. It wouldn’t, or shouldn’t be that hard -right? As the train slowed to a stop, I grabbed the bundle of skis and poles (which is quite the load) and looked out the window.
In the blizzard like conditions all I could see was an abandon shack, clinging to the mountain side. There were no people. There were no maps. No shelters. No help. I decided this was not the stop for me, and despite having no idea where I would be going next, I knew my chances of finding help there were slim. I decided to give it another stop. Except that we were going up the mountain -straight up. Skis and poles tipped. I stumbled. There was only one couple on the entire train that I could see. Up…Up…Up went the train.
I should also pause to mention that Amanda nor David had a cell phone on them. I had no way of contacting them. I was starting to worry now that they would think I had caught the train down the mountain and hop on the next train -since it was the “last train” after all. I started to worry I would be left atop the mountain with nothing but a pile of skis. Visions of me making a ski hut to stay warm, flooded my mind.
We slowly approached the next stop and I saw a flood of people…among them was a man in a red coat. Most times, people wearing red coats were the train workers. I grabbed my bundle of skis and hobbled off the train, trying to look as natural as possible…only to realize the gentleman was NOT a worker. But a random person, in a red coat. Not having much of an option I blurted out “How do I get to Wengen?” I later learned it was pronounced VENgen, not Wengen…he smiled and pointed to the train I had just gotten off of. Apparently, this train just went two stops up the mountain, then returned back to where I had come from.
Me and all the skis and poles managed to get back on the train -which was much fuller this time…and back down the mountain we went. I should also mention that I was still decked out in full ski gear -pants, coat, helmet, the whole nine yards. After lugging the skis on and off the train I was starting to get hot!
Two stops later and we were coming back into the original station I had left everyone behind at. I had hatched another plan that I would grab the skis -hop off the train -and if I didn’t see anyone, I would get back ON the train and take it down the mountain to where we were staying. I figured that if they were still at the original stop -they would be running around like a frantic pack of dogs…if I didn’t see them, I would assume they took the train back down the mountain.
Sure enough, before we came to a stop -I saw a mob of colors -pinks, blues, oranges, greens, blacks and reds -all whirling about yelling frantically. I knew it was my crew…so once again I grabbed all the gear and stumbled off the train. “OVER HERE!!!” I yelled “AUNTIE CHIR!!!!” “CHIR!” “I FOUND YOU!” “GET BACK ON THE TRAIN!” we all yelled random things all at once. Some random stranger, apparently feeling our excitement and not wanting to be left out shouted loudly beside me and patted me on the back. It was a joyous reunion.
We all managed to get on the right train, with all our gear and people -and started the final descent down the hill. I looked over to see David who had two grocery bags. “I panic shopped.” he said, holding out a bag of milk and cereal.
Apparently, while I was taking my journey up the mountain -there was a share of panic amongst them as well. Amanda wanted to catch the next train off to find me -while David advised that I was “smart enough” and would figure it out once I started going up the hill instead of down. He recommended they stay put and let me find them. Smartest move all day.
It was a crazy ½ hour, but we managed to get off the mountain, together -only to discover that the timetables online stating that it was the last train -were wrong. There were fortunately, still numerous trains running -both up and down the mountain.