Bobbie decided she wanted to do something out of the ordinary for our 35th anniversary. Unbeknownst to me, she booked us on Lovely Ouray's newest adventure, the Via Ferrata. Cool! What's not to love, climbing harnesses, carabinieres and clinging to cliff faces. Surprise!
Funny thing. The closer we got to "D-Day," the more anxious I became. How hard could it be, I reasoned? I mean, flatland tourists do the V. F. every day all summer long.
We had a couple of friends join us on the V. F.. Hiker Babe Ruthie's son, Austin (from Sea-Level Sacramento) was in town which made for a fun foursome.
We had a morning convergence at Basecamp Ouray, a local guide and outfitting establishment. They fitted us with helmets and harnesses, then showed us "the ropes," so to speak...safety stuff for newbies. After our "prep-talk" we followed "Guide Noir" Jason up Camp Bird Road to a parking lot about a stone's throw from Box Canyon's now world famous Ice Climbing Park. There would be no ice today, however, as temps were forecasted to reach mid-80's.
On our way to the access trail we stopped on the bridge for a hint of what we might be in for. Huh. Guess I never took notice of just how steep these canyon walls are. Noting like a little verticality to jumpstart adrenal glands.
Swollen by spring runoff, the Uncompahgre River roared like a pride of lions. Being early morning, the steep-walled gorge was cloaked in mysterious shadows that tended to guard its secrets. My gut had a minor flip-flop. How hard could it be? It's for tourists!
|The obligatory "Safety Talk"|
|Cliffside, awaiting our turn|
We took a few minutes to give space and time to the group in front of us. Jason used that time to demonstrate the art of clipping our harnesses onto the safety cable. We got the ok to go. A sudden hatch of butterflies began flitting around in the pit of my stomach as we tiptoed (stumbled) down a steep cliff face. Bobbie, ever brave and eager, followed Jason down toward a swollen river better suited for whitewater kayaking than fishing.
|But my size 14 shoes on that little cable? Ha!|
Below, Hiker Babe Ruthie did the sideways-shuffle.
|The gang, Bobbie, Mark, Ruthie and Austin...holding on for dear life.|
|Fortunately, there were a few places where I could regain my composure and smile like I'm actually fearless and having fun :)|
|Hiker Babe Ruthie going Vert!|
|Austin is first to top out after a long vertical climb...|
Note Mount Abram in background.
|Another "airy" ladder|
|Time to traverse the wall|
|"Hey Ruthie, wanna hang out?|
|I got behind a lot...shooting photos :)|
|Just when you think the worst is behind you....|
|Austin takes Lead. Mark's beginning to relax and have fun.|
|Even if the water broke your fall, the current would crush you against the rocks|
|Another vertical. Having fun, Austin? We all take turns going up...|
|But the Hiker Babes are not tired...|
|Not a place for acrophobes...|
|Finally a wide spot in the trail to relax on.|
|Oh boy, another climb...|
|And another climb...|
|Then a welcome easy traverse section...|
|Up down, up down...traverse, repeat.|
|Ruthie, making her way down|
|Austin makes his way up...smiling for Jason's camera. Bobbie is right behind Austin, and I'm leaning against the wall at the bottom trying to take photos instead of dwelling on what's coming.|
It was good to have solid ground underfoot. We were all pretty jazzed about the whole experience, and when the question arose, "Would you do it again?" Well, I found myself saying, "Yes...definitely." We'll see...
Mark and Bobbie.
Remember: Growth and change begins at the end of your comfort zone