Posts Tagged With: Les Gorges Caranca

Daddy/Daughter Stuff

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The other night, we went to the Banff Mountain Film Festival. I’ve been before, and these extreme adventure films usually do one of two things – they either make me feel depressed and inadequate because I don’t do any extreme adventure things and I’m not outdoorsy enough, or they inspire me to get outdoors, travel more, and spend more time with the kids.
This year’s crop of films did both, as usual, but weirdly, the one I found most inspiring was Spice Girl – a film about a little blond UK rock climber. I say “weirdly” because rock climbing is something I would never do. But I always loved to watch Dev rock climbing, and I love the places in the UK where the rock climbing happens. Almscliffe Crag, Otley Chevin, Stanage Edge, Ilkley, Malham Cove…places like these are so stunningly wild and beautiful that you don’t need to be a climber to enjoy and appreciate them.
Rock Climbing is a fascinating sport that demands such physical strength and agility, but also an incredible amount of mental clarity, stamina, and courage. Because if you fall off, you get hurt. I guess thats why it provides such an adrenalin rush, and pushes people to do things that are more and more difficult and dangerous. I really admire that in climbers. But the other thing climbing does is inspire a love of nature and the outdoors. And I want that for our kids, whatever their interests.
Anyway, I think part of the reason this film moved me so much was the unexpectedness of this hardcore traditional climber being the pretty little blond – gotta love smashing the stereotypes. And also, the relationship she had with her father through climbing. It makes me think of our middle daughter, and the relationship she could have with her dad through climbing. If we lived near any rocks. Or even a climbing wall. She has always loved the idea of climbing, and unlike her mother, she has no fear of heights whatsoever. She had a little bit of an opportunity to experience climbing while we travelled, and even a bit of what I would call “extreme hiking” at places like Carancas Gorge in the Pyrenees (when she was the only one brave enough to follow her father around a crazy ledge about 1000 feet up).
Our little Island does not offer much in the way of rock. Sandstone cliffs are a bit on the crumbly side. Don’t get me wrong – it offers many many things, and that’s why we live here, but it definitely limits any fulfillment of a passion for climbing. So, what to do? How to help cultivate that climber/climber’s daughter relationship in our own family? I’m thinking we might have to take a few road trips to The Mainland this summer! Find some rocks for our own little Spice Girl to climb with her daddy!
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Mountains are Quite High Really.

So today, with the assistance of the new walking shoes, we went on a real hike. Now I think I have a better understanding of what hiking in the Pyrenees is all about. These mountains are huge, and pretty spectacular. Even for someone who has spent a fair bit of time in mountains (not me, obviously), they are stunning. It’s hard to appreciate their grandeur from a distance, but today we went to Les Gorges Caranca and started at the bottom at a pretty little river, and as we wound our way up the side of the gorge, the scenery just got more and more impressive.
And for me, unfortunately, more and more frightening. It’s such a weird feeling. A dichotomy. I want to go up. But somehow I can’t.
I know it’s hard for people who have no fear of heights to understand, but those of you who do will be able to relate. How I ended up marrying the man I married becomes more of a mystery to me as we explore more of this rugged and beautiful area. Opposites attract? I don’t know. He literally vibrates with excitement and enthusiasm when he gets near a mountain, and the higher up we get, and the more “airy” it gets on the path, the more excited he gets.
I vibrate too, but it’s not from excitement. I’m scared up there, and at the risk of sounding completely pathetic, I just don’t get how edging your way along the side of a cliff 1000 meters up in the air is fun. I try to understand. I really do. Some people might think I’m being negative, but I’m not. I enjoyed the hike. The views were amazing, and it’s such a great family thing to do, but when it got to the point where you needed to hold a wire “hand-rail” so you didn’t fall into the gorge, I was done. I tried to go further. I wanted to rise to the challenge. My middle daughter wanted me to as well. She really takes after her father, and it goes without saying he was itching to go further. In fact, he’ll be off up there again on his own in no time, I’m sure. But I couldn’t do it. In some ways, I feel like a bit of a failure, but we still had a great couple of hours on the mountain which we all really enjoyed. It was beautiful, and I’m so glad to be able to experience somewhere so different from where we live. And I loved that as we walked, we met some people who greeted us with Bonjour, and others with Hola. There’s just something so exotic about being so close to three different borders, and sharing the mountains with so many different cultures.
And as an added bonus, on the way home, we saw a guy dragging a dead wild boar up the road, and that’s not something you see every day!

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