Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The busy days... (part 3)

With so much stuff to do, all at the same time, I almost forgot to finish the story of our vacation at Chamonix. It's been a little over a month, but I can still recall all the details. And writing about takes me right back to that fairytale in France.

Last time I wrote about  the Mèr de Glace and our not so easy hike towards it. By the way, I'm very proud of myself that I was able to complete the hike, even if I despised it at times. After our visit at the Mèr de Glace I didn't really want to do a lot of hiking or even walking that day. Luckily, the next day we had planned to go to the Aguile du Midi, the highest point you can get to, without climbing the Mont Blanc. It was something I really looked forward to, except for one thing: We had to rise at 5am so we could get in line at 6am.

Lightheaded but still: 12602 ft above sealevel!

Now, I'm more of a night gowker than an early bird. But still, if we wanted to get a good look around without too many people who wanted to do the same thing at the same time, that's what we had to do. So at 6am we joined the small line that had already formed. We were accompanied by climbers who wanted to get as much time as they could on the Mont Blanc. Someday, I'll be one of those climbers. Someday. untill then, I need to practice a little bit (or should I say a lot?). Anyway, it was a nice experience to see those climbers getting ready, pulling their gear on and departing.

Climbers at the start of their journey

The fact that we were so early, gave us the time to look around without the stress of too much peopole. At some point, I even felt like we were the only ones there. No sound of anyting but the wind, no humans but those little dots on the mountainside, ... Heaven! My other half and I took some really amazing pictures. I just felt like being in a fairytale. One with dragons who ruled the sky, flying high above those snowwhite clouds...

The dragon imperium
By the time we got back in the village, it was to early to stop doing anything, so we decided to go on another trip. When you have your car with you, it just broadens the opportunities. We took the car and went to another hikingtrail a few kilometers away. This hikingtrail litterally crossed a mountainbiketrail - seriously, there were signs to tell you that you had to look out for the mountainbikers and vice versa. To be honoust, it's really strange to see all those mountainbikes crammed in a téléphérique and then in one of those ski-elevaters. Offcourse my other half was besides himself when he saw the mountainbiketrail. Luckily for me, he didn't have his mountainbike with him, so I wasn't worried he would break this or that whilst mountainbiking. Back to the trail, at the end of it, you have a nice view of the Mont Blanc, even though Chamonix is around the corner. The trail wasn't too hard (if you went from top to bottom, not the other way around), but we had to stop a few times because our surroundings were so beautiful.

The Mont Blanc
The beautiful view

The Mont Blanc isn't the only huge mountain in the area. I forgot the name of the second largest, but it's definatly worth a visit. So on day 6, we were off to take a look. Beautiful view, lots of really cool information, but there is only 1 downside to this story: the platform. It was just a steel grid that lead you over the mountains. You could see straight thru it to the pointy rocks beneath. So, there wasn't a hair on my head that wanted to step on the parts where there wasn't a concrete part beneath the grid. Even so, I did get a good look at the amazing view and it was all worth it. Afterwards we went to the cafetaria to get something to drink, because with all the stairs we did at that altitude, we were a little lightheaded. It was even worse than at the Aguile du Midi! but once we were back on groundlevel, everything was back to normal.

On the scary grid
The next day we were supposed to go parapente (a.k.a. paragliding). Alas, the weather wasn't in agreement: it was soooooo cloudy you could only see a few feet ahead of you. Flying in these surcumstances wasn't advisable, so we resceduled. Instead of paragliding, we went on another hike. The second most difficult, if you ask me. I was really, really glad when I saw the right picture below: the end of our trip! Or at least almost the end. Naturally, at the very end of the trail, when you think you're already past all the difficult parts, there was another climb to the top, just to make sure you are exhausted and craving for that delicious soda at the shop. And boy, did it taste delicious!


Together in the clouds
The end of the trail (almost)

The day before our departure was the day we FINALLY got to go paragliding! Yesterday the weather was bad, but today nothing could stop us! The sun was shining bright, it was a hot day, and still I was accompanied by a sweater. We'd never done paragliding before and thought that it would be cold up there. As it turned out, we didn't really need the sweater, but it wasn't too hot while wearing one. If you ever get the chance to go paragliding in the mountains, I urge you to take that chance! Trust me, you won't regret it. It was something I really wanted to do on our vacation, but my other half wasn't really convinced. Afterwards he told me he was glad I got him into it, because it was such a fun experience. I didn't have any trouble with the height and the fact that I didn't have a solid floor under my feet. On the contrary, I felt really safe and was never afraid of the heigth. One of the funniest things we did, must be take-off. But that's because I'm a small person and my instructor said that I had to keep running even if my feet didn't touch the ground anymore. So after three steps, there I was: dancing in the air! Oh, by the way, that day it was windlass, but because of our movement thru the air, we produced enough wind to glide along. I didn't even notice that there wasn't any wind! At the end of our trip in the sky - after I got to steer a little (it frightened me a bit more than I'm willing to confess) - my instructor did some acrobatic stuff in the air. I couldn't stop laughing! One moment - the best one of all - our parachute went almost beneath us (on purpose). It was just soooo thrilling and so much fun! Again: this is something I recommend to everyone! I had the time of my life and it was worth every penny of it! This is something I'll be thinking of regularly.

Paragliding: getting ready
High in the sky
That's that: our Chamonix-adventure! Sorry for the long post, but when something is this good, you just have to write a long, yet summorized description. We went thru and saw too much to describe everything, but the most memorable experience is written down. The way back wasn't bad. Tired but satisfied and with our batteries fully loaded, we've enjoyed our last day of vacation by doing nothing. :-)

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