Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Marble Mountains: The View From The Top

The Marble Mountains are a series of five limestone and - you guessed it - marble formations that jut up from the flat flood plains of Danang. 

The countryside is surrounded by more significant ranges so these so-called mountains are hardly worthy of the name. But they cast a commanding presence in the local topography, which earns them some bragging rights. 

On our day-long adventure to the Marbles, climbing to the summit was a given. I'm hardly a fierce hiker but as long as I'm not taking on a Himalayan-sized challenge, I'm always motivated to make the trek to the top. 

"The stairs are steep and treacherous," my third-born warned me before she and her Vietnamese boyfriend shot up the slope like a pair of well-acclimated tropical rockets. 

Well. Fair enough. My second-born and I gathered up our cameras and began a more leisurely ascent with plenty of rest stops and photo ops. 

Now, I don't want to complain or be a baby about this. But my third-born was not kidding. The trail to the top consisted of a twisting serpent of a staircase with rough hewn, uneven stairs that ranged from giant-sized boulders to teeny tiny ledges. The U.S. National Park Service would have cordoned this hazard off in a heartbeat. But on we trod, determined to reach the top. 

As we climbed higher, the trail got steeper. And hotter. The leafy vegetation of the lower elevation gave way to scrubby bushes and sparsely leafed mini-trees. I began to bake in the hot sun. 

When I finally dragged myself up the last step and stumbled out onto the ledge of the summit, I was a mess. My racing heat beat soon settled back to a manageable rhythm but my Northern European body simply wasn't built to handle that much heat. 

My face was bright red. 
My mouth craved water. 
My brain screamed for shade. 

And still my body could not sweat. All that heat was trapped inside me with no  mechanism for release. 

I'm kind of a freak that way. 

So I coped by huddling in the only shade available - a pathetic puddle of half-shadow cast by a feeble excuse for a bush. And I drank a few sips of water but mostly I splashed my face, neck, arms and wrists with that magical elixir. The simulated sweat gave release to my body heat and in time, I gradually came back to life. 

That's when I was finally able to enjoy the lovely Marble Mountaintop vistas 

And I even managed to pose for a semi-not-awful photo. 

So despite the heat and hardships, I'm glad I made the climb. Because nothing beats the glory of the view from the top. 

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