In the light of Switzerland’s new law decriminalizing marijuana possession (up to 10 grams), I want to share one of my favorite places in the world: Mount Pilatus.
Mt. Pilatus is a nearly 7000 ft, multi-summited peak near the town of Lucerne in central Switzerland. One legend claims Pilatus got its name because it is rumored to be the grave of Pontius Pilate. A less historically significant legend has it getting is name from a fat man named Pilate laying on his back. Whatever the truth, it is a beautiful destination. The mountain is a lonely peak seemingly separated from any range. As an added tidbit of badass, in medieval times it was believed a dragon lived in the mountain.
In true-to-form Swiss fashion, one way of “climbing” the mountain is to take the unique cog railway that is literally a train that can scale the mountain using toothed-cogs that ratchet you quickly up the mountain. The first time I rode this train I looked right out the window of the train and saw a family of mountain goats less than 4 feet away, calmly eating grass.
A hallmark of Pilatus is the immense gondola cable system that runs from base to summit. I once rode this gondola down from the mountain on a very cloudy day. Looking out the window of the gondola all you can see is about 10 feet of cable extending out of either side into the clouds before disappearing from sight.
The knowledge that you are hanging high above rocky crags but cannot see anything around you is quite a butt-puckering scenario, but what an amazing sensation of weightless oblivion.
One of the coolest things about Pilatus is the almost mile-long summer toboggan. It is a stainless steel trench carved into a mild incline in a meadow about half way up the mountain.
You pay a few euro and they give you a plastic, wheeled plank with a hand brake and off you go. As the track is in a meadow, it is not uncommon for cows to be found straddling the track.
My most striking memory of Pilatus is visiting during a night time lightning storm. The darkness was thick and blotted out all light. Only when the lightning flashed did the serrated ridge lines of the surrounding summits come into sharp relief. Being atop Mount Pilatus, watching the fury of nature spooling all around, hearing the electric humming of stones that had absorbed a strike, I have never felt so connected to and so utterly at the mercy of the forces around me.
I haven’t been back to Mount Pilatus in a few years, but now that Switzerland has decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, I cannot wait to partake of my favorite herb before hopping onto a gondola and venturing out into the clouded aether.