Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Alpine


We were foolish in hindsight; the pathways were slippery and the mud was glistening with dew from the morning rain but undeterred, we ploughed on over the rocks and up the winding, narrow path ways that burrowed into the sides of the ravine. I thought of the people who had dug out and made those paths years and years ago and dilly-dallied on day dreams of what the ravine may have looked like then; rogue and unadulterated by the foot steps of generations of hikers. I was silly enough to look down, overpowered by my masochistic curiosity and I realised at that moment how one misplaced foot might send any of us tumbling down into the Cascades. But the French (Clementine and Alban) ploughed on and I realised how mountain rambling felt so far from our own rambling.  Here I felt challenged, out of my comfort zone, wary. But coastal cliffs? Alpine ravines? Is there really a difference? I swallowed my apprehension and ignored the unpleasant, damp mossiness on my hands from gripping the hooks and bars placed into the rocks to help you climb and followed my friends to the true prize buried at the other end of the pathways; the falls. 













The colour of the water here, at the Cascades was enchanting, it was a soft sea foam green-blue which the camera really failed to capture. The rocks were wonderful colours too and stone never fails to fascinate me with its layers and speckles of infinite colour and texture. They are ancient and have been there much longer than we have and they will be there long after we are gone. I can touch a rock and it feels like a connection to history, to times so far behind us, so sleepy and old they consider a decade gone like the fleeting wink of an eye. We picnicked along the way and Clementine told me how in the summer, the ravine is filled with bathers and it's the most idyllic spot in the region. In the damp, cold and muddy woodlands of the lower mountains, it was far from a summery oasis but looking at the pale turquoise waters, it was easy to picture a hubbub of activity. It made me think of Warleigh weir back in Bath; how desolate and dreary it is in the winter but how in the summer it's filled with reams of BBQ'ers, University students and wild swimmers. The Cascades put Warleigh to shame though, their falls were majestic and far harder to get to. I guess the reward is sweeter when the journey is most difficult.









Our week in the French mountains was an adventurous one. I tried skiing for the first time in my life, something I had always thought looked really fun and gnarly but never thought the opportunity would come my way as I had always seen it as a sport enjoyed by affluent folks. There were often skiing trips with the school when I was younger and trips to the Ardeche, but we were too poor so instead I stayed behind and tried my best not to think too much about it. As I got older, I pictured skiing holidays as luxurious affaires with bubbling jacuzzi's and pretty wooden lodges. I pictured standing high in the mountains, surrounded by miles of snow and fir trees and cascading down the slopes like running water. I never thought I'd get there so easily, I am so incredibly fortunate. 
George is one of those jammy people who has the best of luck and I am lucky to have him in my life. He has been skiing many a time with his family, despite being far from affluent and he has always been desperate to get back on the slopes. I guess his luck has rubbed off on me, because one of my friends, Clementine, moved to Grenoble for university which is a city in the middle of the mountains and just 40 minutes away from a ski station. When she invited us to stay with the promise of taking us skiing, I couldn't believe it. I was going to see the world from high up in the mountains, see more snow than I had ever seen in my life and feel the cold breeze on my face from high altitude. We booked flights back in November and after a relentless and tiring Christmas at work, I had never needed an escape to someplace new, more. 
I am dallying with the idea of sharing my photos that I took in the mountains while skiing on my blog, however anybody who knows me at all knows that I would never take my Nikon D610 up to a very wet place where I would try a difficult sport for the very first time. Anybody who knows me will also know, I am extremely clumsy because of Dyspraxia and I knew skiing wouldn't be easy for me. 
This means that all the photos were unfortunately taken on my iPhone (because I just can't not take photographs). The quality is not great and I'm utterly torn between the idea of sacrificing the consistency of the photos I share on here, and the reminder that this blog exists primarily as my online scrapbook, a place of memories, travels and adventures and not to share such a momentous experience for me is more a wrong than sharing a few fuzzy photographs. I'm still battling that one out with myself... You may or may not get to hear about our skiing trip to 7 Laux, Prapoutel. 





























Spot the George, he is camouflaged amongst his surroundings. He wanted to get as close to the waterfall as he could and as a result he got thoroughly soaked by the spray. It felt as though it was drizzling anywhere near the waterfall but it was blissful to feel the cool water on my skin. Clementine and Alban left us to scout out any further paths that may be safe in the wet conditions and we stood in awe of the incredible falls. My gosh, I'd love to come back here in the summer and swim in them and stand beneath them. The photos are as dark, damp and austere as the ravine but it was dormant, like its beauty and I felt so lucky to visit such a place, even in the mizzly throws of deep winter. The hiking kept us warm and I thanked my lucky stars again for my £6 walking boots that I had found in a charity shop last year. As it approached late afternoon, the sky began to darken and we panicked. We had taken a variety of routes where the path had ended and to proceed you had to climb and take precarious steps along narrow high paths with no railings. I pictured for a moment being stranded in the cascades, spending a night there like Bear Grylls and my sense of adventure and longing for the wild wavered a little. Couldn't we be stranded on a warmer, dryer evening? My 'wild camping' nights in Cornwall on the beaches seemed much less like 'wild camping' and more like luxurious holidays. I thought of wolves howling and Alban (always the joker) said that we might meet a Bear. I am sure there are no bears here... right? But we made it back and as we got into Clementines little camion, the heavens opened and the sky water plummeted on us as the canopy turned to darkness and stars twinkled beyond the clouds. We packed ourselves off to bed for an early night, ready for the first light of the next day, for we would be going to 7 Laux for the next great adventure.







In a bid to try and get myself to play with different mediums of illustration more, I've created a sort of  Ski/Alpine theme adult colour in page that you can print if you like :) You may enjoy that sort of thing or you may be all 'blahhhh' but it's fun for me to make and it's a freebie ^_^ I'm thinking of making downloadable content like desktop wallpapers, post cards and calendars. Would people be interested in my photography as a product that could be used in this sort of way? Let me know your thoughts and what sort of freebies you might like to see on here :D <3  





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9 comments

  1. What a beautiful place! It reminds me of a place up in Northern Scotland that I visited last year. It sounds like you had a really lovely time in France, and well done for trying out skiing! I've actually never done it, despite being from Sweden, haha! I'm such a wimp. And yes, I would definitely be interested in your photos as wallpapers, calendars, etc. Your photos are incredibly beautiful!

    Mimmi xx
    Muted Mornings

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  2. Sarah, your illustrations are SUPER DUPER CUTE AAAHH SQUEEE ^_^ yes to more wallpapers/calendars! And that waterfall looks so fun, but I think if I was there I'd be such a scaredy cat of getting anywhere near it bahahahah. And kudos to you for trying skiing yay, I haven't ever been skiing before since I hail from a tropical country (lol) but unfortunately none of my close friends or family have been nor have a interest in going anytime soon so I think I'll have to prompt them one day in the near future... as usual, loved reading this :)

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

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  3. Yes yes yes of course we'd be interested! I'd love downloadable postcards, I send a lot of them! Plus, I would really like to see your ski adventures, no matter how blurry they are, it adds to the magic of the snow! Alice xx

    www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

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  4. It looks beautiful there. When I see waterfalls like this, I am immediately reminded of two things:
    The joy of going to the Brecon beacons with my orchestra during my teenage years and doing adventurous gorge walking and walking through waterfalls like this
    and secondly, Enid Blyton adventures like The Valley of Adventure where the children hid from the baddies in a secret cave behind the waterfall! Such beauty!
    xxx

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  5. Lovely photos, as usual! I think your photos would definitely make some beautiful desktop wallpaper :)

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  6. Such beautiful photography, you seem to be really at one with nature, and I think that's so lovely. Your illustrations are so unique and pretty too, such talent here! x

    Martha Jane | www.marthajanemusic.com

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  7. These photos are amazing and so beautiful. I'm so jealous, it looks amazing there I desperately want to visit now. I had the same kind of thought as you that skiing was for other people not me but after this I am tempted to go and see the alps!
    I would definitely be interested in some downloadable things your photography is amazing!

    http://www.lifewiththeroofdown.com/

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  8. These photographs are so gorgeous and the scenery and waterfall are awe- inspiring. Also you write so beautifully, it's mesmerizing. x
    fashionismyfirstlanguage.blogspot.ie

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  9. For an iPhone, those pictures are incredible. And the surroundings certainly help. I love waterfalls and always imagine myself washing my hair under one, a bit like the Herbal Essence advert.... £6 for hiking boots WOW mine were £45. I'm really considering getting some custom made ones since I'm flat footed. Looks like you had an amazing time. Xxxx

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