We arrived at Monboucher-sur-Jabron on Thursday evening and spent 10 days there with Jeremie, Christophe’s brother. We had thought to spend a lot of time at our laptops, working, but they turned out to be action packed days. Of course we did work, but not as much as planned. We visited lovely little villages and went swimming in two different rivers, amongst other things.

Hiking up and down Les Trois Becs

On Saturday, we went hiking with Jeremie’s children Alexis (15) and Camille (10), and girlfriend Sophie. It was a 6-hour hike called “Les Trois Becs”. Not for the feeble, because it involves quite a lot of (steep) climbs, but well worth it. The views from the high points were magnificent and we even spotted marmots. We met a local ranger on our way down and he was thrilled to hear about it, for they are trying to establish a population there, but they are rare and not often seen.

Celebrating like the French

Jeremie’s daughter Camille was turning 11 on the tenth and we celebrated the event on Sunday. We drove over to Jeremie’s mum Carole and had a delicious meal with the extended family there. It was like you sometimes see in French movies: a long table in the shade with people eating, chatting and laughing all the time. And after the meal, the men played a match of jeu de boules. It doesn’t get more french than that, and I never thought I would be a part of such an event.

Via ferrata de Collias

Tuesday heralded my “baptism of the vertical”. The boys (Jeremie and Christophe) wanted to do a via ferrata and I was invited. They choose an easy one, for my climbing experience is limited to two times in a climbing hall. I was told that this one is really easy and I would have no problems at all. So off we went.

We parked the car in Collias and hiked to the starting point of the via ferrata, which wasn’t far. I was helped into my gear and off we went. First up, which wasn’t too difficult. But then we arrived at a rock face where we had to go horizontal, with hardly a ridge for toes nor hands. Since I was already there and back wasn’t really an option, I mentally braced myself and got to work.

Jeremie was in front of me, Christophe behind me and I was secured with 2 short lines. So even if I were to fall, I couldn’t go far. I found it hard and very strenuous. At the end of the route, there was a part where I had a very difficult time. But I made it, even though my upper legs had trouble functioning for a full week after that, and I left the skin of two fingers on the life line.

It’s a good thing I didn’t know exactly what it would be like beforehand, for I wouldn’t have dared it. And now that I know what it’s like, I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything like it again. If so, I’ll want a lot more experience just climbing before I try another via ferrata. However, it was an exhilarating experience and I’m proud I did it.

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