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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Roman Lopez

Around Monte Rosa (II) - Day 1 Graechen to Zermatt

Early wakeup at home followed by almost 4h by train and bus to get to Graechen. Today’s route follows an imaginary high line linking both ends of Mattertal. I had the hope to meet Lizzy for a coffee in Graechen. Unfortunately we miss each other.

The first steps into a solo journey always feel somewhat out of place. Unlike at the start of a race, here the village and its people go on with their errands. Moreover, there are so many different hiking paths that following the right direction requires stopping and checking the map several times. Better double-checking than turning in circles! It is the first time I run this route so I feel excited about covering new terrain. There is fresh snow above 3500m, highlighting even more the roughness of Weisshorn 4506m and Zinalrothorn 4222m. Both mountains remind me of Manaslu with its threatening hanging seracs.

This stretch is called the Europaweg and passes through the longest suspension bridge in the world (actually second longest since recently). Another funny coincidence is the very improvised ‘nepali style’ bridge located less than a kilometre away from the above-mentioned piece of engineering. I take it as a solid proof of the inequality of this world.

My legs feel as heavy as the pack. Due to a recent rock fall the path is closed and a well-marked detour forces me to hit the valley bottom. It is quite cold, which I like during the long uphill back to the Europaweg. As soon as I start the long traverse, the wind shows up. A bite of salami, jacket on and one foot after the other.

The omnipresent Matterhorn watches our steps from about halfway onwards. By the time I reach the suspension bridge the sun is out and my legs and soul feel more cheerful. From then on, a series of small climbs and downhills that make time fly. The kilometres go down slower than I wished – mostly because I ran out of water a while ago... I see Zermatt already but there seems to be ‘surprise’ climbs everywhere! Anyway, it’s a beautiful day and I am hypnotized by the Matterhorn. So much that I take a stupid but painful fall… great start, Natalia!

As soon as the last downhill to Zermatt starts, I twist my precarious ankle. I had been dealing with this shaky foot for months and I knew a bad twist could send me home anytime. The closer I get to today’s destination, the hungrier I fell. I spend the whole downhill from Sunnegga dreaming about what to cook for dinner! It is at this point when I realize the only food I had today was that mini-sandwich 5h ago.

After moving for 7h I reach Zermatt. It is always funny to run through the streets of this luxurious village. Everyone looking so clean and shiny and me… well, a little bit dusty. Moreover, since the glacier slopes are open, plenty of ski racing teams add a winter touch to the cold evening. Skier or runner, rich or poor, local or tourist... we all turn our heads to admire THE LION!

The hostel I am staying at has a massive industrial kitchen (not by coincidence!). Before getting too cozy I hit the supermarket. Today’s menu: eggs/zucchini/onion frittata and 250gr of wild deer. Tatopani (hot water) with freshly pressed lemon. The Dexcom sensor was off several times during the day. Luckily I can trust my hypoglycaemia awareness. I felt energetic and stable through the run. Regular insulin works like a clock to cover the high-protein dinner.

I am sharing the room with 4 other ladies, which turned out to be a bad idea. I am panicking about getting Dexcom alarms during the night and waking them up. In the end I decide to sleep with the earplugs on and reduce bedtime basal more than planned. I wouldn’t call it a best practice and promise to myself this is the last time I book a bed in a dorm. In the end blood glucose behaves and I get a good night of sleep.

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