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Mountain Storm

I knew something was coming, but I didn't imagine it would be like this.

I'd hiked up to the little uninhabited alpage of Dair in my shorts and no shirt, sweat dripping like rain off my brow. I placed my pack on a bench made for hikers while I looked for the best place for a signal to send photos from my camera. Yes it's the 21st century, even in an ancient place built for cows.

As the photos were sending, I could see the down-valley sky darkening. Okay, something is brewing; we'll see what it brings. The large set of pictures was still sending (wildflowers and old climbers that you'll see in future reports) when I started to worry. This was a serious darkness, moving inexorably upvalley. I walked back to the bench, where I'd left things quite open. By the time I reached my pack, it was obvious I should put on rain clothes, though not a drop had fallen. I walked toward the forest, figuring I could hike uphill in the rain. By the time I'd walked 100 meters it was clear that I'd need shelter--though still, not a drop of rain had fallen. Lightening flashed quickly when I reached the trees, but I figured they would provide shelter. It grew darker and darker as I walked uphill another 100 meters, as thunder rumbled and lightning arced across the valley. I started looking for shelter, though barely a drop had fallen. Then I saw a stone barn with an overhanging roof. That would be perfect, I thought, as I clung tight to trees rather than risking crossing an open meadow.

Just as I reached the overhanging stone porch on a centuries-old hay shelter, the skies opened up and an ocean of water fell upon my meadow.

But the rain was nothing compared to the thunder. I've never heard thunder like this. It was like an inexorable army marching across the landscape (thank heavens I've never seen a marching army, let alone an inexorable one, so this is clearly a metaphor).

For half an hour the rain poured. And lightening flashed and thunder boomed. But I've seen all that before, with larger deluges, more spectacular blasts, and greater crescendos. But still, I've never seen it like this. For nearly an hour the air rumbled without stop. Not a moment of silence. The rain poured, the skies brightened in bursts and darkened again, but the heavens kept rumbling like a seashore in storm. There was never a break, not a moment.

And then it passed. Again, like the metaphorical army, it moved up the Bregaglia valley. But instead of blood in its wake, there are mountains revealed. The great Piz Badile that I had so much wanted to see is now standing proud in the newly cleared sky.

When I started writing this a few minutes ago I heard booms of thunder and torrents of rain. Now I hear bird calls and the river far below. Sunshine sparkles the Bregaglia. It's been less than an hour.

Time to start hiking again. Thanks, Mr. Farmer from centuries ago, for giving me shelter.