I Have Gone to the Mountains (Part One)

Le Parc du Vercours

It’s 5:45 in the morning on a Saturday, the sun will not rise until 7:30, and the temperature is at a balmy 36 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time, I am eating breakfast. My host mother, who is always up by 5 o’clock, is preparing a picnic for the day for me. We are chatting about what I should bring. Let me take that back: she is chatting, while I am trying desperately to stay away, let alone speak French. After mumbling between bites, I am told to eat my toast, not my words. It is too early for this.

I cannot complain too much though.  Three days earlier, in a quiet building in the center of town, I was eagerly signing up for the CAF. The club alpin français is an outdoors group specializing everything pertaining to the mountain. Spelunking, rock climbing, ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and canyonisme (descending down waterfalls) are some of activities the group offers to help people enjoy the Great Outdoors. I had opted for a mild 17 km hike at the Vercors, a national park thirty minutes from Grenoble.

Le Parc du Vercours










Arriving at the meeting place at 6:50 a.m., I realized that the CAF was not completely composed of energy drink-fueled, adrenaline junkies. Instead, men and women of all ages and personalities greeted me with warm affections that made the cold much more bearable. A thin, 70-something-year-old woman, whom I had trouble keeping up with during the hike, happily said hello and told me about herself. It turns out that she had lived in Grenoble her whole life and saw hiking as a good way to keep her in shape for when, in the winter, she trades her trekking boots for touring boots and skis ridges in the backcountry. My dad was right; the French are a little different…

A mountain biker enjoys an upward struggle

This post was written by Jacob, an Aspire by API student who is currently taking part in a gap year program in Grenoble, France.  He will be updating the blog periodically throughout his time abroad.

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