Interlaken, Switzerland was exactly what I imagined the Shire to be like when reading Lord of the Rings. Everything was lush and green and mountainous and you couldn’t escape the natural beauty of the town no matter how hard you tried. The water that came out of the tap was directly from the MOUNTAINS, for God’s sake. I felt like God, or Tolkien, had sent me here for a specific reason.
That suspicion was only furthered when the day after we arrived, I joined a group of fellow CRecader’s to go canyoning. I had no idea what canyoning was, but it sounded terrifying. The way it was explained to me was that you jumped off of CLIFFS into RAPIDS and tried not to drown for, like, the thrill of it? I’m not gonna lie, I signed up because everyone else was doing it and I wanted a cool wetsuit picture, but I don’t regret it by any means. It was challenging and spectacular all in one.
Anyway, when we got to the canyoning base camp, we got to pick out our helmets, and this is where I felt Tolkien reaching out to me from beyond the grave. I went with the classic Peanut butter (an amazing substance, which I believe should be classified as it’s own food group, but I digress), and my friend Kyle (who also goes by Lentil, but that’s a story for another time), chose the helmet….wait for it….Frodo. It was at this moment I knew a white wizard was about to appear before me and tell me I needed to join him on an adventure. That wasn’t exactly what happened, but it was kind of close.
Our tour guide did appear and tell us it was time for an adventure (oh, and did I mention he was from New Zealand? As in, where lord of the rings was filmed? The coincidences don’t stop here folks). After a ROCKY bus ride and a hike through some beautiful woods that looked quite literally exactly like Fangorn Forest, minus the talking trees, we arrived at the falls and rapids we would be delving into. Here, I felt like I was in Rivendell, and all the nerves that had been building inside of me immediately calmed. If this place was as beautiful as the home of the majestic elves, what could go wrong?
Well, quite a lot could go wrong if I’m going to be honest. I tried to embrace the spirit of Arwen and be as graceful as I could, but repelling down the first rock I managed to slip and plummet straight into the water. See, the difference between Arwen and I is, she’s an elf. So, she can kind of control water. I, however, cannot. This was a bit of a disadvantage. The rapids were harsh and unrelenting, but I did my best to combat them. It was only when we were Tarzan swinging from one rock to another that I finally felt powerful, and even though I’m sure I looked like a raggedy Ann doll flying through the air, the feeling of freedom I felt from flying in that moment was incredible.
My comrades went on to jump from a plane later that afternoon, and I applaud them for that, but I tempted fate quite enough jumping into jagged rocky water. It was uncomfortable, it was freezing, and I was scared the entire time. But once I stopped and looked at the beauty that surrounded me, I realized just how incredible what I was doing was. I was canyoning in the Swiss Alps. I don’t know how many people get to do that in their lifetime, but I can’t imagine it’s many. So I decided that instead of spending the entire time terrified, I was going to be Arwen, and I was going to love every minute of it, being flimsy and not graceful and having fun with my friends. And I did.
Interlaken, you were beautiful. Thank you for all that you taught me.