I had to force myself to go. Despite the high summer, dew had fallen during the night. Now in the early morning, as the sun's rays beat down on the forest, it evaporated; it was as humid as the tropics. I was breathing loudly and heavily; my thighs were on fire.
As I reached the tree line, a mighty rock face rose above this world. It looked as if it had been drawn in pencil. I spotted two dots at the very top of the Staff (that's the name of the mountain in Carinthia), which were moving, barely perceptible. I walked along the foot of the mountain to get to its back. Like a wrestler sneaking around his opponent. Fuchsia-red alpine bushes grew here and there; a breeze carried to me the tinkling of cowbells.
Panting, I arrived on a saddle. Above me, the summit of the Staff, still far away. Done. I let my eyes wander: This was the reward for my exertions. Alpine meadows spread out before me. The high valley was painted in soft shades of green; it felt like being on the Mongolian steppe. Patches of shadow flitted silently and busily across it. High above and in the far distance, a flock of sheep grazed. I listened to the silence around me. When I closed my eyes, I could hear my heartbeat. The longer I kept my eyes closed, the more fiercely I looked forward to the moment when I would open them again.
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