Life with Lou has been a wonderful adventure. When we first got married twenty years ago, I was new to Colorado and skiing. Lou was finishing his first guidebook and he spent the winter guiding me around the state as we double-checked routes and trail heads. Despite flailing around on my Bonna three pins, it was a thrill to explore the snowy backcountry. In fact, if you have a copy of Colorado High Routes, that lone figure in many of the photos, way back on the trail, is probably me.
But Lou was not the first man to share a passion for the mountains with me. My great uncle, Jurg Jenatsch, lived in Chur, the oldest town of Switzerland. I spent my 16th summer with him and my aunt. Even though they were in their seventies, every other morning we would get up early to the sound of church bells, catch the train to a nearby town, and hike a peak. My list of climbs from that summer include:
Santis 2500 m
Weisshorn, 2653 m
Hornlie 2512 m
Bruggerhorn 2401 m
Wiesener Alp 1937 m
Muottota 2345 m
I have many dear memories of those days, zigzagging up through the pines, hiking through fields with alpenblumen and brown swiss cows, and looking across the narrow valleys for sensational views of the Alps. But my fondest memories are of the picnics my aunt prepared. Weâ€™d spread out a blanket in a sunny, high alpine meadow and feast on fondue, Falscher Hase (rabbit meat loaf), Emmentaler Kase mit Weizanschrotbrot, Birebrot, Nusstorte, Apfelkuchen, Basler Lackerli, Churer Zimmetstern, Mailanderlie, Spitzbuebe, and Berner Haselnuss Labchueche. When I would protest being given yet another piece of torte, my uncle would sternly say, â€œSo! You are not on vacation to diet.â€?
Hereâ€™s a recipe for one of my favorites, a dense nut torte that is perhaps the perfect trail food:
250 gm butter
250 gm flour
200 gm ground almonds or hazelnuts
150 gm sugar
1 tsp cloves
1½ tsp cinnamon
Cut butter, flour, spices with hands. Mix in sugar, nuts; add egg, let sit in frig for 10 minutes. In a spring form, use a little over half of dough for bottom, spread raspberry jam Â½ inch thick. Roll out remaining dough, cut into strips and place on top. Brush with beaten egg. 350 degrees, 45 minutes.