Canyoning near Lucca, Italy—Hanging from cliffs…Why not?


Some might think we were crazy. Maybe we were. I’m fifty-two years old and I paid good money for this madness.

 

Simone, from Toscana Adventure Team, picked us up at 8:40 in the morning outside the ancient walls of Lucca, a medieval city in Tuscany and we rolled through hills covered in an array of greenery.

Forty-five minutes later we arrived at our starting point. Within an hour sixteen young twenty-something Italians joined us, ready to go adventuring. Canyoning is a popular activity all over the world.

The definition of canyoning—or “canyoneering” as it is known in the United States—is an adventure sport combining rock climbing, bouldering, with hiking, cliff jumping, repelling, sliding down natural slides, and challenging swimming. Canyoning requires physical strength, daring, appropriate gear, trust, and maybe a bit of insanity.

Each of us was handed a wetsuit, helmet, ropes with an eight ring and carabiners, and a harness.

 I don’t know who designed the wetsuit, but whoever fashioned it did not have a woman’s body in mind.

I for one am not the same width from the bottom of my legs to my butt. The suit however, is intended for someone who is. Now, picture yourself standing in the sun in 90-degree weather, struggling to slither into a second skin that’s not formed the way your body is. It was an act of shear will and strength to achieve success. 

Brittney and I watched one lovely young Italian couple work together on this endeavor. The young man shimmied into his suit with no trouble. His petite, yet shapely, girlfriend was another story. 

She tugged the suit up to the middle of her thighs and there the trouble began. She jumped and pulled, yanked and jerked, but the suit wouldn’t go higher. The butt portion of the suit was still 6-10 inches too low. The obliging boyfriend attempted to assist his woman. He grabbed the butt portion of the wetsuit and tried to shake her into it, until all her parts were in the appropriate sections of the suit. 

It was hysterical to watch and the young woman’s laughter echoed through the canyon. Eventually, everyone was zipped into their suits.

Simone assured me that, “Putting on the wetsuit was the hardest part of the day.”

We headed to the drop-off point, donned our helmets and the remaining gear, and headed down into the canyon.

The rocks varied in size. Some were small—others were two to five feet in diameter. Climbing required balance, and my creaking knees made it over and down most rocks with no problem. 

Soon we came to the water and the first repel. 

The twenty-five foot drop was looming and required going under a huge overhanging rock to descend down the crevice. 

Simone instructed us how to repel ourselves down. He offered to manage the rope, but said I should try it myself. “You can do it, Tracy.” Okay, I thought, I can do this.

I contemplated the fact that my memory isn’t what is used to be. What if I forget something important that he told me to do—or not to do—during the instructions? 

I buried the initial panic that welled up inside me. Simone handed me the rope and said, “Smile for the camera.” 

His final words before letting go were, “Uw, don’t let go of the rope.” 

Simple, yes, remember, yes, don’t let go of the rope, remember, don’t let go of the rope. These words reverberated through my head for the next four minutes while I hung precariously    CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

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