• Fundamentals for Fun at Fifty-Five

    1. Dare to try new things

    2. Say yes to opportunities

    3. Relax, smile, dance away your worries

    4. If not now, when?

    5. Just do it (you can analyze later)

  • Discounts for Fifty-Five +

    Golden Griddle Restaurant - 10% discount (excluding alcohol)
    Shoppers Drug Mart - 20% discount on Thursdays
    Zellers - 20% discount first Monday of month
    Thrifty Rental - 5% off time and mileage
    Best Western - 10% off room rates
    Sandman Hotels - 25% off room rates
    Howard Johnson Hotels - 10% off room rates

  • Fifty-Five is …

    fabulous, fanciful, fancy-free, fantastic, far-out, fashionable, fearless, feisty, fiery, fine, flamboyant, flashy, flattering, flirtatious, folksy, forthright, fortunate, foxy, frank, free, fresh, friendly, frivolous, fulsome, fun, funky, funny

True Grit … and Fingernails

#31 – Try rock climbing outdoors (spontaneously)

If you’ve been reading this blog since the start, you’ll know that on my 55th birthday, I went rock climbing for the first time in my life. Indoors, mind you, and I discovered that my body was actually up to the challenge (to my amazement). So was my mind, in spite of my fear of heights.

Recently I added a new item to my Fab Fun List – rock climbing outdoors. Now, when I added it, what I envisioned was an organized rock climbing outing, complete with instructor and gear at a location that had been carefully checked out ahead of time. However, life doesn’t always work out the way we anticipate, does it?

Over the holidays, my partner and I went to Niagara Falls, Ontario for a few days. We have a favorite spot we like to explore down along the rocky shore of the Niagara River. It’s a spot where the river bends and creates a whirlpool. The last time we were there (almost a year ago), there were huge chunks of ice crashing, swirling, drifting in the frigid water. This time the water was simply frothy, and moving very fast.

We decided to wander along a bit of a path amid enormous boulders to see if we could get out to the point where the river curves. It required some scrambling to get over some of the rocks, although that doesn’t really constitute “rock climbing”.

The easy part ...

After checking out the view at the point, it was time to head back to the car. This is when things got interesting. Rather than go back the way we came (there are stairs, stairs and more stairs), my partner suggested we try a “shortcut”. You’d think I’d know better, wouldn’t you? However, there did seem to be a trace of a path heading uphill, so off we went.

I have no photos for this part, needless to say.

The path vanished, but as I grasped at rotting twigs, desperately clung to tree trunks leaning precariously out over the steep cliff of the Niagara Gorge, and dug my hiking boots (and fingernails) into slippery mud and shale, I did see signs that others had been there before us. The arm of a woman’s eyeglasses rested at the base of a sapling, a hair comb lay tangled in leaves, and plastic water bottles nestled in slight hollows in the slope.

As if to give me hope as the incline grew steeper, a friendly fungus appeared on a rock right in front of my face.

See the happy face?

There were moments when we wondered if we’d have to give up and slide all the way back down, but eventually, we reached the upper ledge, a layer of fairly flat rock nestled against tall boulders. From here, I could look dizzily down, down, down to the rushing waters of the Niagara River.

My face says it all ... See the river way down below?

But the best was yet to come.

After following the rock ledge past some small waterfalls and across a few crevices, we came to a section of rock that appeared to be directly below a parking area. At least we could hear vehicles above us.

I looked up, and all my indoor climbing skills came into play. There were handholds and footholds naturally formed in the rock. And although they weren’t colour coordinated like in the gym, I knew what to do.

And so, at 55, I can now say that I climbed up the side of the Niagara Escarpment. And that wasn’t even on my list!

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  • Julie Wise is …

    a writer, author (Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease), life/relationship coach and an intuitive healer by day. By night, she dances flamenco, thrives on chocolate and good red wine (shiraz will do!) She secretly plots to change the world, one dream at a time.
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