An Exciting Day of Adventure in the French Alps

by Lars Wagoner / Dec 12, 2016 /
Lars Wagoner's picture

It was a nice summer day in Morzine, a small town in the French Alps about an hour east of Geneva. The trees were highlighted with morning sun, the stream below the house was roaring, and I was fast asleep. 

I don’t remember much about getting up that day, but there is one thought that still goes through my mind every morning: Waking up is difficult. Especially when you start thinking about getting ready to seize the day, ugh… so much work. 

But on that French morning in early August, it wasn’t as difficult as usual to open my eyes, sit up, and walk into the bathroom to brush my teeth. This was because of the day of adventure we had planned - we had 2 activities in mind when we first entered the car at around 9 am, but after a few discoveries, we ended the day with 3.

Morzine. From An Exciting Day of Adventure in the French Alps
Beautiful Morzine

Activity 1:

It was originally going to be a surprise for ‘the kids’ (my sister, Anya, and I), but the secret was revealed in the hot tub (did I mention we had a hot tub?) the previous night: We were going to luge.

I’m going to admit something, I’m not exactly proud of it, but it’s the truth… I had no idea what “luge” was. Even after hearing a brief explanation, I still didn’t really understand what it was...but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because I forgot the explanation in the morning.

Normally, I would research whatever the unknown was, but that evening, I decided to just go with the flow. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and control freak, so not knowing exactly what I would be doing was slightly nerve-wracking, but at the same time, liberating.

Luge! From An Exciting Day of Adventure in the French Alps
View from the end of the luge track, pretty amazing!

Still half asleep, I hopped out of the parked car in the garage and walked up to the booth to purchase tickets. “4 tickets, s'il vous plaît”

With the tickets in hand, Anya, my dad, and I walked up to the line trailing the ski lift and waited. My mom decided not to go, so we had an extra ticket. It was only a matter of minutes before we scanned the passes and made our way up to the platform, where we sat on the suspended bench.

We got off at the starting point of the track, about halfway up the mountain. I didn’t appreciate it much at the time, because I was focusing on getting of the ski lift injury-free and trying to figure out how I could record my ride down the track, but what a view! 

We had to walk down a small ramp after exiting the lift to get to the stacks of sleds. Then, maybe 20 meters down the dirt path, the queue for the ride ended at the top of a staircase leading to a flat area with 2 slides (easy and advanced) - the entrance points to the luge courses.

After each of us grabbed a sled (think of them like long plastic seats with wheels on the bottom and a lever controlling the brakes) and a helmet, we walked a few meters down the path and joined the line at the stairs. Being the ‘master adventurer’ that I am, I decided to go down the mountain before both my dad and Anya. Not knowing what to expect, and after seeing a bunch of signs cautioning the lugers, I was anxious.

Before I knew it, the employee at the take-off point was telling me to get ready to go down - at least I think so, as it was in French, but I got the gist of it - so I plopped down and pushed myself down a small slope to pick up speed. 

The first few meters were the slowest, a warmup of sorts. But after going through a metal door frame, the fun began. Being new to luging, I started off being pretty friendly with the brakes, but as the turns got sharper and the hills steeper, my comfortableness accelerated like my sled down the mountain. 

Less than 2 minutes went by and the ride was over. I gradually slowed to a halt, hopped onto the platform, and added my sled to a stack of others. Shortly after, my sister arrived, closely followed by my dad. Apparently there was something wrong with my sister’s sled, because she was going slightly faster than a snail on a skateboard. Put off by the not-so-great experience, she offered the extra ticket to me, and (obviously) I accepted.

It was closer to midday by the time I had used the extra ticket and bought another (totalling 3 rides), and we decided to call it quits because other activities were awaiting us! 

Activity 2:

Picture a typical small town in the French Alps: narrow roads and clusters of houses atop beautiful green mountains. Now imagine that town filled with goats. That’s what we drove through to get to our next activity. 
 
Goats aside (quite literally), we made our way to the top of a mountain about 20 minutes from where we were staying, taking two wobbly ski lifts up.

Even though it was early August, it was still pretty chilly at the peak. There were breathtaking views everywhere you looked, loads of amazing downhill biking trails, and the most anticipated activity of the day...the Fantasticable. 

Are you afraid of heights? Would you enjoy zooming over a valley while hundreds of feet in the air? How about if you’re lying face-down, head first? If you answered no to any of those questions, the Fantasticable is NOT for you. 

It’s composed of 2 ziplines connecting 3 hilltops. The rider is strapped in lying on their stomachs - any thrill-seeker’s dream! There is a more in-depth post about it on Wagoners Abroad (my family’s travel blog) - click here to learn more about the Fantasticable

The whole process, from joining the long line to getting off the final zipline, took a few hours, most of which were spent waiting in excitement. 

The first long wait was at the equipment shack. This is where we were weighed and given our harnesses and safety gear. Once all suited up, we crossed to the other side and waited in another long line. My sister and I did a tandem zipline, as we thought it would be more fun to scream with each other than by ourselves.

Here’s how it works. The worker pulled a cord and the 2 boys in line before us went flying down the zipline, leaving Anya and me on the platform. We were up next. We got strapped in and ready to go, 3 cameras recording and only one cord-pull away from the zipline of a lifetime. 

Ziplining on the Fantasticable. From An Exciting Day of Adventure in the French Alps

“Au revoir” was the last thing we heard before zooming away from the platform. We accelerated rapidly, the ground getting further and further away by the second. My sister and I were screaming like crazy. According to our parents, it was a few seconds until we couldn’t be heard from the platform. 

The Fantasticable was everything I expected it to be: loud, cold, high, and fast...very fast. We were going over 60 km/h, and I could feel it! It was incredibly windy. Even though we had goggles on, I couldn’t keep my eyes from watering. My throat dried out halfway through the first line.

After disembarking, we had to walk up a small hill to reach the next zipline. The worker pulled the cord and we were off, flying even higher than before! This zip line was my favorite of the two, because there were spectacular views of the valley and all of the summer activities going on below. Both rides totaled maybe 2 minutes of excitement. I’m so glad I followed through and did it, but I wouldn’t do it again. 2-3 hours of waiting for barely 2 minutes of actual ziplining isn’t worth it for me. That’s not to say it wasn’t an amazing experience, because it was. I just think the lines were too long.  

Luckily, I got it all on camera.

 

Activity 3:

When we arrived home, I was exhausted. It has been an action-packed day, even though it was only 5:00 pm. 

Normally, I don’t take naps, but man, was that one of the best naps EVER after spending my day having fun in the French Alps. I think I woke up at 8 or 9, debating whether or not I wanted to go ice skating (we got a coupon to go after buying the luge tickets in the morning). I decided to go, in spite of my tired mind and body - why not make the most of our stay in Morzine, right? 

You would be hard-pressed to find something more correct, because I had a blast! Having only ever ice skated once many years ago, I was stuck on square one. It took me half an hour of wall hugging and slipping around to finally be able to go around the rink comfortably. Granted, I wasn’t going fast and I’m sure it didn’t look pretty, but it wasn't not too bad for 30 minutes. 

3rd activity: ice skating! From An Exciting Day of Adventure in the French Alps
Skating with my sister. I had about a half hour of practice before she joined me.

To be honest, I never thought I would have so much fun ice skating. For me, it wasn’t exactly a drama-filled, adrenaline-pumping sport, but it was nice to just glide over the cold surface with ease. Very relaxing indeed.

I ended up spending over 90 minutes on the rink, trying to improve this new skill and hobby of mine. That may be what I liked most about it - that it was new. I think it’s important to always be learning new skills and experiencing new things. On a never-ending quest to try everything this world has to offer, I discovered something I really enjoy doing.

One downside to living in sunny southern Spain is there are no ice rinks to be found for quite a long ways, but I guess there are compromises for everything. 

This crazy summer day was (and still is) very special to me. I got to luge down a mountain in the Alps, soar over a valley with incredible speeds, and stumble my way through an hour and a half of ice skating. But most of all, I was living in the moment, enjoying every second of each adventure. I broadened my horizons by trying out a sport I definitely couldn’t do where I live, and I learned to go with the flow. 

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a great day to me.

 

Want more? Here's a vlog about my day!

 

 

Lars Wagoner is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. You can follow along on his family's travels at WagonersAbroad.

All photos courtesy and copyright Lars Wagoner