Day 04 Bourg Saint-Pierre / Col du Grand Saint Bernard 16km
Imagine that you are in the future on a date that you select, reviewing your life at that time. You are looking back over what you have done and how you are living. Today’s task was to detail our history.
As we went up the mountain we used our time to dream big, to express our heart´s desire. Typical this is an exercise of visioning, placing each person thinking the same way a writer conceives a story or an inventor creates a prototype. A prototype of our life.
Regarding our route, Bourg-St-Pierre that we left this morning is the gateway to Italy and last village before the Great St. Bernhard Pass. The village’s history is dominated by the pass crossing, ancient armies crossed the valley as early as the 3rd century BC. From Hannibal and his 300 elephants to Napoleon and an army of 40.000 plus, it is hard for me to believe how they manage to do it. Me and my backpack alone seemed to be enough of a challenge.
Every day of our life can be a totally new experience (if you are open to that) and today was no exception. Besides the constant changes of wind and the growing potential of a storm at such altitude an additional layer was about to be added to the experience.
One of our companions have been struggling with a back problem since the early days of the journey and unfortunately the cold is not much of a help, leading to an increase of pain. In the Walking Mentorship we don’t have any rules but there is one principle I specially like; Time, security, health, etc, is a group asset not an individual property and in certain situations we can only think as a group, otherwise we will suffer as a group (just like us and this blue planet we live in).
One by one we rotate the backpack of our friend, and by magic (or not) we immediately learned a very important lesson. You will never know the weight on someone’s else “backpack” until you have to carry it. How many times in life we criticize others without having any idea what they are going through? When was the last time we offer to easy someone else burden? if you are the one in “pain” what is the felling of having (at least for few kilometers) an unexpected relief?
Step by step we finally arrived at the top of the pass. Saint Bernard of Menthon founded the monastery and hospice at the pass summit in the 11th century, paving the way for what became an important landmark and beacon of hope to travelers and pilgrims in Via Francigena. The renowned St. Bernhard dogs were also bred here until recently, the most famous of them being the legendary Barry, said to have saved the lives of 40 travelers in distress on the snowbound pass between 1800 and 1812.
What about us? Can we be “Barry” in someone else’s life today?
Tomorrow we are off to Italy, but when you leave this place you know the place will never leave you :)