I look back, now that it seems everything has stopped all over again, I think back to these first months as a hiking guide (qualified and certified) and reflect.
I see the most beautiful images in my mind, I imagine if and how it could have been somehow different, but above all I try to think about what it will be like. When all this madness will finally end, or will simply be reduced to the point of allowing us to return to live this passion in freedom, without too many constraints: regional, provincial or municipal.
Free, as we want to be and how we feel every time we walk.
About what will come next, without yet having a clear idea of when, there is no certainty. Hope mixes with the stories of a 2020 summer spent differently than usual, discovering the mountains, its charm and beauties. Too many times even with excessive arrogance and little, very little, awareness. Other times, fortunately, with the concrete and conscious desire to be free and in contact with nature and its emotions. In a new environment, to discover with respect and reverence, to ensure that in the end it won’t seem as foreign to who we are.
So these months have passed walking, among huts, peaks and ridges, meeting new faces and listening to new fantastic stories, happy to share, from my side, part of who I am today.
Maybe they went differently from how I imagined them when, still locked at home, I planned excursions and expeditions as if I was sure I would never had the time to do it again. They certainly were unique and different from what had become an unbearable routine.
I learned to see the mountains and hiking through the eyes of those who, amazed and even a little scared, want to be reassured first of all: about the difficulties, their limits and any other factor beyond their control. I have always tried to minimize that particular attitude of taking everything for granted, especially in the mountains, even where I feel safe, experienced, ready. Yet this was a new opportunity to improve myself, refining characteristics and skills that should be essential to perform this job in the best possible way. And perhaps many others.
Answering people’s doubts and requests was very strange at first, convinced that for every question, even the most complex, my help was not necessary. Gradually everything became more and more normal and stimulating, portraying myself in a different way in the imagination of those who were contacting me: not just an excursion companion, but rather the one to trust blindly at any time.
And it is here, most of all, that I grasped the essence of what this year I started to do concretely, with the desire to make everything a fundamental part of my life in the future as well.
I became aware of who I am, reflecting myself in the eyes of others. I understood that being a good guide, first of all, does not mean placing yourself above your group, giving directions and dispensing advice from the top of knowledge acquired and consolidated over time. This is not the case because the mountain is not like this. It changes, unique and different from one moment to the next, from one place to another. I have learned this on my skin over the years, trail after trail, step by step, renunciation after renunciation, conquest after conquest.
With a single term (perhaps the most common among those I usually use), acting as a guide means being aware: that what was until yesterday, today is different; that what is easy for some is not easy for others; that what I see with my own eyes, others see in a different way.
As it was from the first day I set foot in the mountains, when alone I learned to listen, my body first of all; to reflect on what I was doing; to respect nature and all its manifestations. In the same way it is now, when I become part of a larger group, made up of faces, expressions, doubts, questions. People. Hiking companions, even before customers. To listen to and with whom to share reflections, thoughts and moments, those of leisure and, above all, the most demanding ones.
Because each of them is different and unique. Just like the mountain.
To each of them, now, I say thank you. And see you soon, again along other paths to explore!