The good news is that Lauren and Owen went with us on a moderately difficult hike. The bad news is that Lauren and Owen went with us on a moderately difficult hike.
The highlight of the weekly dinner menu is the dessert buffet, which is served every Sunday night. (Pictured above are Lauren and Owen enjoying their introduction to the dessert buffet. Lauren, as you can see, has opted for two kinds of mousse, among other things. That smile is probably still in place.) My recollection from 23 years ago is that the buffet table was covered with platters of full-sized cakes and pies, and that my uncle would attempt to eat his weight it desserts. He may not have hit that lofty goal, but I am certain I saw him go back and forth at least five times to the buffet table, each time returning with a plate piled high to the point of toppling over. When you impress a 19 year-old boy with your food consumption, you are doing something remarkable.
From there, we hiked down a bit (350 feet) and up the Muragl valley, filled with flowing streams, grass-covered hills and pastures, and lots of cows. The latter led to my uncle sharing his observation that the cows, many of which were of a different hue, did not seem burdened by the same prejudices as us humans. (Pictured below are the cows that inspired my uncle's insights into human behavior.) A few minutes after this observation, we happened upon some cattle where the only two gray cows were separated from the herd. I suggested that age discrimination seems to be common to all species.
Keri advised both Lauren and Owen that they should go with their grandparents and Aunt Diane on the even path that wraps around the Segantini for a much less-strenuous hike. As is often the case, they ignored their mother's advice. The four of us hiked together most of the way up the Segantini, separating about three-quarters of the way up. Keri moved ahead with Lauren while I stayed back with Owen. I will not repeat here his complaints from prior hikes (all of which were pulled out), but I will give him credit for one new complaint (why can't we eat lunch before we hike???) and for a slightly new behavior -- laying down prostrate on the ground and declaring that he simply could not move another step. I will further say that I was no longer speaking to him by the time we got to the summit.
The four of us and Jennifer started down around 130, which turned out to be not a moment too soon. The hike down was challenging, a narrow path that hung on the side of a steep slope and had a number of places with some slippery rocks. Lauren and Owen were both pretty scared. With some small steps, slow hiking, encouraging words, and hand-holding, we all ended up getting to the Alp Languard in one piece. Steps from the chairlift, the rain started. It slowed down and then picked up as we rode the lift down, eventually becoming a nice little hail storm. To her credit, Lauren was pretty positive throughout.
Let me first say that we are proud of Lauren and Owen for getting through the hike. It took some real work to get to the top and the way down covered some legitimately treacherous terrain. The kids definitely went outside of their comfort zone and, I hope, have grown and gained confidence as a result of their achievement. That said, I think some of these hikes are just too much for them. Hikes like yesterday are probably just not worth it. Whatever confidence may be gained cannot make up for the the total misery that everyone is put through during the experience.
When we got back to the hotel, we learned that my father had fallen a couple times, injuring his calf muscle. A couple who was staying in a neighboring town helped him back to the hotel. My uncle examined him and thinks he probably tore some muscle fibers, but not enough to require surgery. My father stayed in bed last night, but was up this morning, walking (slowly) to the breakfast room, the salon and back to his room. I don't think it will heal enough for him to do any further hiking here, which is really a shame. (Although not technically on the Segantini, my father's injury was just below it, making it close enough to fairly credit this mountain with another victim.)
Between my father's injury, and some mental/physical exhaustion in the rest of the group, today was declared an off-day from hiking. Lauren and Owen were very happy, and would probably be happy to have non-hiking days from here on out, as they would prefer to spend their time hanging out with family, playing in the pool, and on their iPads here at the hotel. After yesterday's hike, their parents would not disagree.