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Melissa Arnot Finds A Different Form of Adventure in the Canary Islands
Posted on March 3, 2014

This past fall, our Eddie Bauer guides and athletes journeyed to the Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of North Africa for our Spring photo shoot. In this adventure travel destination, they put our new Travex® gear and active fabric technologies to the test in the varied microclimates of these spectacular islands. Eddie Bauer guide Melissa Arnot is acclimated to climbing and guiding on the world’s tallest peaks—from Everest and Rainier to Kilimanjaro—but she found a different type of adventure experience exploring Santa Cruz, La Laguna, and the volcanic peak of Mount Teide on Tenerife. This is her travelogue and reflection on simply going with the flow in a foreign environment. —LYA Editor

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Words by Melissa Arnot

Over the years, I’ve learned that adventure comes in many forms. There’s the simple kind of adventure in exploring something unknown to you – trying a new food or taking a new path to a familiar place. And then there’s the type of adventure that’s unknown to most – traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, armed only with a rain jacket, swimsuit and hiking shoes.

The latter type of adventure is the one to which I find myself the most drawn, so when the opportunity to travel to the Canary Islands was proposed, the most attractive part was that I didn’t know where the Canary Islands were.

Call it my bad geography, but I had never heard of them. The word “island” in the name gave me the sense that I would be challenged. I’m very much an arctic animal and, though I enjoy the beach, what scares me more than the coldest, highest places on earth is the unknown of tropical plants that can kill you if you look at them wrong. And snakes. And spiders. Need I go on?

I did some Google research and learned that the islands are south of Europe—Spain specifically, of which they are part, but closer to North Africa. The activities seemed endless: road biking, hiking (on a 12,198-foot volcano!), kite surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, and an exploration of the unique island and Spanish culture. I was thrilled to go somewhere new and, for the time being, felt I could overlook the tropical critters of doom.

To get there was fairly simple, if a bit long. Of course, after all my Asia flights, anything less than 30 hours seems short. I arrived mid-morning at the island of Tenerife, and the main city, Santa Cruz. My bag had other travel plans, however, and chose not to join me.

I’m very minimal in how I pack, as I hate having excess things to keep track of or lose. I can go almost anywhere with a simple roller bag that contains my essentials for travel – a small daypack, hiking/running shoes, rain jacket, swimsuit, first-aid kit, pants, shorts, skirt, two t-shirts, and a few headbands so I can get away without my hairbrush if need be.

This trip to Tenerife taught me that all I really need is the clothes I am wearing and a positive attitude. Is it perfect? No. Do you have to be flexible? Yes. But is it possible? Certainly.

My first day on the island, I was able to wander around the city of Santa Cruz, which is big and fast-paced. By early the following morning, I was more than ready to see something new, heading high into a rainforest. We left the beach and sunny climate, and within an hour’s drive, found ourselves in a lush, green rainforest with beautiful trails and a chill in the air. It was a great way to see a different side of the island.

After exploring the historic city center of La Laguna the next day, we headed out to my preferred destination, Mount Teide, the highest point in Spain. I traveled to Europe earlier this summer for the first time, and what I took away was that Europeans really appreciate a tram. So it was no surprise that a high-speed tram took us from around 10,000 feet, where the paved road ended, up to about 11,500 feet. The views were amazing as we arrived around sunset, and the lights of Santa Cruz glimmered below.

A 45-minute hike downhill took us to a refuge, where we slept for the night. With the comfort of beds and a full kitchen, we were hardly roughing it. The alarm went off at 4 a.m. the next morning, my chosen time to try to get to the top for sunrise. I like hiking in the dark in a new place, as it forces you to use senses beyond what you can see to perceive where you are, and the light always brings a surprise.

In a few hours I found myself, along with my friends, on the summit of the 12,198-foot peak, with enough time to have a quick snack before sunrise. The most surprising thing I saw on top was a giant spider, crawling on the foot of my friend. Seriously? Even up here, the tropics are the tropics!

After spending some time up there, it was time to come down and enjoy a little more of the city before heading home. When I arrived back at the hotel in Santa Cruz at 10 p.m., my bag had also just arrived after its own seven-day journey.

It was a good lesson in simplicity. So often we try to bring our world into the places we go, but it’s possible to get by with much, much less.

 

Learn more about the Travex® collection our guides wore in the Canary Islands here.

Author: - Monday, March 3rd, 2014
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