A Mountaintop View of the World in Spring

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As spring moves swiftly into her delightful season of wild flowers and longer sunny days, I am reminded how touch allows me to see as my world goes out of focus with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). But my desire to see through blind eyes is kept alive by traveling to foreign shores…or in this case, a mountain top!

woman standing in front of mountain view

Climbing That Mountain

Driving through the villages of the Auvergne region of southern France, vague splashes of colour whirl past my view. The Top Gear team are on a mission – we have a mountain to climb. My partner, Harry pulls up in the car park at the bottom of the mountain known as Puy de Dôme, a volcano that, thankfully, last erupted in 5760 BC.

He prepares his camera gear for the long haul and gabbles with excited anticipation. Our teenage son, Mike, catches his enthusiasm. Personally, I wonder what it is about mountains that compel people to climb them? Hasn’t anyone thought of a ski-lift for non-hikers like myself?

The sign at the beginning of the track apparently tells us it will take a comfortable two and a half hours return trip to reach the summit and back. Really? I dispute the word ‘comfortable’, knowing that this challenging track up the Puy de Dôme has occasionally been used as the ultimate finishing line for the Tour de France.

Don’t Give up, Remember?

I begin to grumble, anticipating my white cane getting caught in ruts along the way. "Do we really have to do this? "Mom. Come on!" says my son. "You’re always telling me not to give up." He grabs my hand and pulls me up the path.

Harry and I soon find we have to stop every few hundred feet just to catch our breath while mountaineer Mike coaches me up the climb.

A group of French school children trot merrily past, the steep ascent effortless for light hollow legs. Little show-offs, I think to myself, huffing and puffing and crawling along at a snail’s pace.

Three quarters up the stony path and I want to give up. "Please, Mike. Let me wait here for you," I pant. "You can’t give up now,” he scolds. “I will be very disappointed in you if you do."

Mike bounces ahead and I tell him to stop showing off or I will whack him with my white cane (only kidding, of course).

Enlivening My Sense of Adventure

Harry has trailed far behind us to capture the view on film and with much prodding by my son, we continue the climb. Yet the fresh scent of mountain pine begins to enliven my spirit and awaken my other senses.

I catch a glimpse of dark mountains rising in the distance and pick sprigs of wildflowers along the path. I can sense the beauty in the quiet climb. Mike skips ahead urging me forward and together, we reach the summit. I can hardly believe we have made it.

parasailing on volcano

My son and I stand in awe seeing what I imagine are the green fields far below of Clermont-Ferrand. Paragliders drift in pairs way above our heads – as graceful as soaring eagles. Harry comes puffing up to meet us, his voice bright with joy and we dance a merry jig in celebration of our triumph.

The Icing on the Cake, or Mountain

One last surprise awaits us at the summit of the volcanic dome. We follow a long path to a kiosk and there, what do you think we find?

A vending machine with cans of chilled green-tea, as you do. We buy several and begin the descent in happy tones of victory!

Tell Us Your Story

Do you have a story to share where you have stepped into Spring with cheerful anticipation, we’d love to hear your story…

Retinitis Pigmentosa
Personal Reflections
Social Life and Recreation
There are currently 4 comments

Re: A Mountaintop View of the World in Spring

Hi Maribel, For several years when our daughters were in high school, we went on a hike/picnic in an area where a small herd of elk roamed. Our younger daughter raised and trained a llama as a 4.H. project. He carried our lunch and scrambled along the trail effortlessly. My guide dog strolled along just behind him. I used a ski pole in lieu of a white cane so that I could better explore a dropoff before stepping down it. My dog stopped at each one as he would for a city curb and once I had used my trusty stick to explore how far it was down, I could decide the best way to handle it. Should I step gracefully down, sit on the edge and slide or have one of my daughters or husband go first and take my hand to help me down. Once, my family went on ahead to figure out if the trail we were following was the one we wanted and left me comfortably enscounced on a log holding the llama's lead rope. I let my guide dog off leash to go with them. They were gone about ten minutes when I heard soft hoof beats. The llama gave a curious chirp and an elk answered. I couldn't tell how many there were, but they stopped about ten feet away and conversed with Max for a few minutes while I enjoyed being a tourist in their territory.

Re: A Mountaintop View of the World in Spring

DeAnna - see? You have great stories to share...thank you for this lovely image being surrounded by elks...what fun!

Re: A Mountaintop View of the World in Spring

When I was on spring break from college, some friends asked me along on a camping trip. They decided to climb Mount Baden Powell. They lent me an ice ax and crampons for my hiking boots. Much of the climb I traversed stepping two steps forward and sliding one back. Occasionally, I slid even more. One friend climbed behind me and would grab me as I slid past. I eventually gave them their ax back as I felt more secure using my hands and feet than trying to cut footholds with it. The spring snow was iced over, but my guide dog Tammy scampered up using her natural crampon claws to dig in and climb. When we reached the top, we all wrote our names in the log book kept in a metal box at the top. I will have to admit, it was the only mountain I ever climbed choosing to remain in camp to start dinner and relax with a book while everyone else exhausted themselves climbing and sliding up and down the mountains. I don't mind hiking trails, but steep snowy slopes leave me cold!

Re: A Mountaintop View of the World in Spring

In my more sure-footed days, I was an avid hiker and belonged to a back-packing club.Why do people climb mountains, you ask? Because they are there, for the challenge and of course for the view!! Even visually impaired, I still enjoy hiking and climbing mountains. It takes a bit more time and concentration, but I feel so empowered by the challenge and the satisfaction at the summit. Giving up is not an option for me! And you never know what awaits you at the top...ah it is majestic! thanks for reminding me of my mountain top experiences...

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