Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rock walk

Misty mountains

Boy, my blog production really has slowed down of late, hasn’t? Well, this marks my 200th post. Significantly, it also marks my third wedding anniversary*. Coincidence? I think think so.

In any case, I’ve been more than a little swamped in the last few days. Sadly, this has not been of the traveling-Europe-having-zany-adventures kind of swamped, but more of the why-is-it-all-my-freelance-clients-give-me-assignments-at-the-same-time-it-must-be-a-conspiracy kind of swamped. So why am I writing here about this, instead of, say, nuclear physics? Because I love you, that’s why.**

I did manage to escape my office and increasingly wonky laptop long enough to take a hike this past Sunday. Now that Sami the Finn has returned to the land of Frozen Monosyllabic Angst-sters in the North, Amynah and I find ourselves hiking with, unexpectedly, Amynah’s boss Brigitte***, and her husband Alain.

Amynah and Brigitte, on one of the less perilous sections

They chose a hike in the southern Vosges that translates roughly as “The Trail of the Rocks.” Having seen photos of the trail on-line, I had assumed that this name referred to the views it affords hikers of the bare granite cliffs that loom over the Munster valley.

I was wrong.

Turns out that when the French call a trail “The Trail of Rocks” they really mean that the trail is made up of rocks. Lots of them, all sharp, and crazed angles and covered in wet, slippery leaves.

Alain explained that the trail was built in 1915. With my razor sharp grasp of history, I asked if the folks in the neighbourhood didn’t have more pressing things to do at the time than hacking trails out of cliffsides.

See that cliff? We had to climb that.

“Ah, it was made by contrabandieres” explained Alain – men running illicit merchandise back and forth over the border between what was then the Kaiser’s Germany and wartime France. Given how much trouble I was having navigating the steep, rough ups and downs of the trail, I had to give those smugglers of yore, traversing this route while burdened with backpacks of blackmarket cheese or what-have-you, a tip of my hat. Or would have, had my hands not been otherwise occupied holding on for dear life.

Smugglers made this? I guess they have a more industrious breed of criminal around here

*The leather anniversary, apparently. You do not want to contemplate my underpants right now, trust me.

** In that needy, craving approval, writer-reader way.

***Who, amusingly, complained all day that she was fatiguée from a dinner that had gone until 1AM the previous night. I'd have called her on it, had only I known the French word for hangover.


Victor Chisholm said...

No comments after all these days? Maybe the other readers, like me, are afraid to move their fingers too much on their keyboards for fear of slipping on a wet leaf or unstable rock.

Mark Reynolds said...

I find my hiking posts, though they seem to be the main theme for the blog, often garner the least number of comments. I think re-thinking my choice of topics is in order. That is, I will after tomorrow's hike....

dmchenail said...

I didn't know you were a fellow hiker! You have so many deep, dark secrets. (I love your hiking blog entries, btw - I laughed out loud at this one!)

FYI: We have some pretty industrious criminals in Canada in the modern day, too. A group smuggling weed between Vancouver and the US built a tunnel with shacks at either end! And they say stoners are lazy!!

FYI 2: I just saw a great history of Marijuana show on the history channel last week. The so-called 'demon weed' was apparently demonized in the 1930s in the Southwestern US as a way to oust unwanted Mexican workers. Then politics ensued and the rest is history...

Mark Reynolds said...

Hiking's hard to resist around here, given how easy it is to get into some very pretty countryside.

You know, illegal drugs and the History Channel are the integral to one of my greatest "commissions that got away" stories. It's tragic. Remind me to tell you one day.