My First Peak: Puy Griou

I would like to share one of the many special moments during our vacation. One of my ''firsts''.  I happened to be married to a very adventurous man who loves to push himself to his limits. He loves extreme sports.  I, on the other hand, am an indoor artsy ambivert with a love for traveling but has always been afraid of heights.
Through him, I have discovered my adventurous side. He often gets me into some adrenaline pumping activities and I always end up having fun.

Throughout our years together, he made me discover my love for hiking.  May it be in a tropical forest, a cacti cladded island in a salt desert or a deep green community of pine trees.  I have crossed steep paths (almost fell at one time) but have never reached a summit of a mountain.

There's always a first.  

 Puy Griou is a sharp volcanic chimney in the department of Cantal, Auvergne region in France.  1,690 meters altitude, located between the valleys of Cere and Jordanne.  It is accessible from both valleys.


It starts with a lovely walk through the Auvergne woods. We took the Vallee du Lioran route.  Before you reach the above site where I took this photo, there is 7.5 km ascent on a pleasant trail of about 3 hours.  If you're coming from Le Lioran ski centre, it will be about 8.5km via Font d'Alagnon.


The path in the woods leads us to the ridge heading up to the sharp summit. There are many marked trails leading to Puy Griou but it's better to check out the local Tourism Office or your hotel reception for hiking maps to see the best possible route.

Nightlock? (Hunger Games)  Not really. Blueberries can be found along the trail
The hubs challenged me to reach the summit.  I was hesitant at first, because I wouldn't really know whether  it would be possible for me to move forward and upward when vertigo attacks.

That's the expression on my face when I was challenged to reach the peak of the steep conical  mound.
My in-laws decided to rest below the foot of the mountain.  I drank in huge gulps of water as I stared at this intimidating phonolite cone. I heard that the final climb could be quite technical and those prone to dizziness usually back out.  I inhaled and breathed, "I can do this."   I began my attack on the sharp volcanic rocks. I managed the 3 quarters of the climb, avoiding to look down.  The last bit was the hardest.


I had to push my weight up and was crawling on these basalt rocks wishing I was spider man.  There it was. I froze. I found a seemingly dead end where the rock was too steep and my knees were about to melt.  My acrophobia kicked in. Dizziness. I started panicking and crying at the same time.  The hubby was behind me, reassuring me that if ever I slip, he'll be there to stop my fall.  I heard him explaining how my shoes have great grip.

I started chanting, "I can do this..I can do this."  Against fear, I pushed my weight with my legs while my arms reached for some rock crevice that could anchor further support.  I did this slowly, one step at a time.  Cheering myself with every rock and every stone I threaded on. Looking forward, I could never look down.

All tension, stress and fears released. I had to cry when I got to the top.
360 degree view at the top

 Ecstatic and pleased, the experience was a bit spiritual. The descent was fairly easy and I was looking down while reflecting on life, how much the journey upwards is a personal typical pattern and attitude towards life. When I reach the toughest bits, I begin crying, sulking and screaming pausing only to push myself forward, always rising to the challenge. The thing that touched me was, I'm never alone.  This time, there'll always be a guiding force that will catch me if I fall. May it be my husband or a friend inspired by a higher power, touched by grace.  Then I am no longer afraid.

 XOXO,
Arni

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