I wish that each of us, whatever our walk of life, could from time to time, step out of the web of habitual behavior, and enter into a simple repetitive activity, in an entirely new and even surprising environment. There, as the mind settles down, and worries recede, the world has a new chance to teach us how essentially connected we are.

I’ve tried, with poor success, to find this refreshment in meditation getaways of various kinds, but I’ve usually been outdone by the mind’s ability to spin its fictions in the sensory deprivation of a retreat. It helps, I find, if the new environment has a certain jolt. It stops you cold.

The bus dropped John Doncaster and I in Les Houches, a little French village at the start of our two-week hike around Mt. Blanc. The hotel manager showed us our little room. We threw open the shutters and for a good hour stared, wordlessly gawked, at the snowy mountain range which flooded our view. For me, it seemed a brand-new experience: The brutal verticality. The distances without perspective. The radiant air. A strange fourth dimension had opened up.

And from that initial shock, the succession of days began. We’d stepped out of old patterns, but of course, stepped into new and simpler ones: Reading maps and guides, following trails with mixed success, and basically wondering if we could push these bodies, now well past their “sell-by” dates, through the daily 3,000-foot altitude changes and along rocky paths.

Each morning, after a bleak European breakfast, in a simple, catered refuge, you would say good-bye and exchange e-mails with some of the miasma of new trail buddies. Then, you pull on clean, fuzzy socks and slide into hiking boots. Ah, they fit so well! It’s like re-attaching a lost body part.

Outside, in the crisp air, you adjust hiking poles for the ascent, and hike out just as the sun’s rays begin their march down the mountainside. You begin the slow climb, avoiding glances at the altimeter at your waist, to the mountain pass where you will probably picnic at mid-day.

You’ve booked the next refuge by cell phone, so you know that a hot shower, a filling dinner at exactly 7 p.m., and a snore-filled dormitory will complete your day. The steady tread of boots, interweaves with the clank of poles. You are a being without past or future. No where to come from. No where to go.

Later, as you approach the pass, there might be patches of snow. The air, if possible, is even clearer, but thinner now as your breathing testifies. And, though I hesitate to wax cosmic on you, the stage is set for an unpredictable ecstasy, where you enter a vibrant space, a peaceful “just-this-ness” that takes over your being.

Lying in the grass, facing the intense but welcome noon-time sun, the bees are buzzing in the purple heather, but they don’t mind sharing space. The resonant gong-like cacophony of cowbells wafts from an alpine pasture. You’re munching a chewy sausage, surprised by the odd peppercorn, along with a slice of stinky local cheese, and heavy dark Germanic bread. The after-lunch nap beckons, but no! Your whole system is abuzz with the amazing lightness, the thoughtless peace of this sacred moment.

After almost two weeks of hiking, the circle closes. Mount Blanc and its diverse range-mates, have been contemplated from every possible angle. In the final descent by gondola from altitude, you drop from the sky into toy-like Chamonix, as the air thickens and the sun brings more warmth. A German brass band, the men in leiderhozen and brush-top Tyrollean hats, is umpah-ing in the town square, as high above, in the still, electric-blue sky, dozens of paragliders are lazily weaving. Surely, this is yet another heavenly realm.

Now, trains and busses, airports and hustle, threaten to bring you down. But no! You have pilgrimaged to the Holy City. And even here, in this dull Geneva airport, your heart is still singing, and somehow you know: You’ll never be quite the same.

Jory Squibb, who lives in Camden, is an occasional contributor to VillageSoup.