Featured, France

Back on the Road – Week 11

Hey guys! Paul and I are back on the road again, and boy does it feel good 🙂 I have to say I was a little bit nervous to be back in Ben after being reminded of all the luxuries we were missing out on in the studio by the beach in Bormes les Mimosas. It was so easy to get used to having a warm shower, using a fridge, and having so much space to move around. Each day longer that we stayed at the studio made it that much harder to leave, especially since it was up to us to decide when to head out once Ben got all fixed up at the mechanic.

And realizing I would be leaving behind the best morning routine EVER made me so sad. No longer would I be able to wake up early for the sunrise, jog down to the beach, and go for a morning swim! Ah, it made me think that I might really enjoy living next to the ocean someday. I guess I didn’t realize how much I loved the ocean when I lived in San Luis Obispo, too consumed with the hikes and mountains around I guess 🙂 But other than that, being back on the road has been great 🙂

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Paul and I are meeting my best friend Maya in the Spanish Pyrenees tomorrow afternoon (Saturday the 15th) so on Monday afternoon Paul and I left the studio apartment to start our journey back to the mountains! We stopped at an outdoor store in Toulouse to buy a guidebook and some more propane for our stove. We decided on a guidebook focused on Ariege, an area in the French Pyrenees. It has about 15 crags described in the book, all within 40 minutes of each other.

Our first stop has been Calames, a huge crag that was only an hour away from Toulouse and was recommended to us by a guy working at the outdoor shop. We arrived at Calames late on Monday night, driving into the Pyrenees in the dark, so waking up in the morning was a really pleasant surprise 🙂 We hiked up a beautiful trail covered with fall leaves, overlooking the valley below us. The valley was filled with the smell of firewood from the chimneys below us filled with smoke from the people inside warming their homes from the crisp fall air. It was just the coziest thing 🙂

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I am loving being in the mountains in October so far! Back at the beach in Bormes, I definitely wasn’t getting these fall vibes with the leaves changing color and the crispness of the air! It’s just so cozy being surrounded by it all here.

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On our first day climbing in a week and a half, we decided it would be super fun to do an easier multi-pitch climb to get us up to the top of the peak. It was a 5 pitch climb, 150 meters to the top and took us a few hours to get up. Multi-pitches are probably my favorite kinds of climbing, even if the climb up isn’t that challenging. I just love sitting right on top of a mountain, dangling my feet, and looking down below at how far we’ve come.

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We had our lunch at the top and were visited by a mountain goat who kept popping his head around where we were sitting, seeing what we were up to. He was pretty cute and made funny faces when we baaaa’d at him. Maybe that’s not the right noise to communicate with a mountain goat? I’m not sure.. But it was pretty entertaining.

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The next day we climbed a few slabby routes, which I’m kind of a fan of slab, but kind of not. Slab is a style of climbing on steep, but not vertical rock, with little to no features to use to climb up. I like slab when I’m doing well on it, finding the right balance to inch my way up using nothing but applying the right amount of pressure on my toes, and pressing my fingertips into the smallest divots in the rock. But as soon as you lose that balance, it can be pretty difficult to find it again. Which is what I experienced on the upper pitch of the route as it started getting steeper. I started slipping and when there is literally nothing to hold me onto the wall or to grab onto to save me from falling, that is when I don’t love slab. I ripped open a finger sliding down until the rope caught me, but hey it was still a fun challenge 🙂

It started to rain about half way through the day yesterday, so we headed back down to Ben, went for a nice run and made some dinner.

And today, we planned for a full day of climbing, but the rain hasn’t stopped since yesterday. We went to a coffee shop in the morning, and Paul and I just plan on cozying up in Ben the rest of the day. Hoping to wake up early to get a few routes in tomorrow if it dries up and then we’ll be making our way across the border to Spain to meet up with Maya and her boyfriend, Naveh, for some hiking 😀

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