Backpacker

The Iron Way

I WHITE-KNUCKLE MY trekking pole, wishing it was an ice axe. Stopping to catch my breath and my bearings, I look up to make sure that my husband Will is still 20 feet above me. My boots are immobilized in slick, slushy snow. Try as I might, I can’t will myself up. Or back. Or sideways. I stand rooted 1,000 vertical feet up a 50-degree snowfield with impossibility in every direction.

Tears fill my eyes before I can stop them. , I think. I give myself the no-nonsense pep talk that’s worked for me in the past. But it doesn’t help. We’re nearly halfway through our six-day trek of Italy’s Alta Via 4, on a trip that was supposed to help me break through my self-imposed limits, and all I can feel is their bitter

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