Sometimes things don't go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures.
My foot skated out from under me, sending me plopping directly onto a pile of sheep droppings. I grabbed a handful of grass and, as I tried to scrub the muck off my pants, wondered how I had gotten myself into this mess.
I was two weeks into my trip around Ireland and visiting the Giant's Causeway on the north coast, an area of interlocking hexagonal rock columns caused by an ancient volcanic eruption. It's a unique sight, but you can only appreciate a pile of rocks for so long. I looked in my guidebook for something else to do in the area.
There wasn't much, but my book showed something called the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. I'm from Vancouver and we have our own rope bridge, so I was curious to see how they compared. It was a 15-kilometre hike away, but I had all day and nothing else to do so I followed a sign for the bridge and started walking. It was sunny when I started, but the skies soon turned overcast and the well-paved road became a muddy sheep track.
A light drizzle turned into a proper Irish rainstorm that washed out part of the trail, so I had to take a detour through a farmer's field to get back on the path. I was miserable and thought about quitting, but signs for the bridge kept me going.
By the time I reached the toll booth, I was soaked and caked in mud. The bridge was still out of sight, but since I'd come this far I decided to pay the extortionate fee. I walked the final kilometre and, at last, saw the bridge for the first time.
To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. It looked like someone had taken the rope ladder from a kid's tree house and strung it to a rocky outcrop over the sea.
"Vancouver wins," I thought.
After taking a stroll on this Irish pretender, I headed down the road to the nearest pub to dry out.
The bartender brought over a steaming bowl of stew to go with my Guinness and we got to chatting. She asked me where I was from.
"Vancouver," I said.
"Ah! Vancouver, I've been there," she said. "I went on your rope bridge; it was lovely. Have you been to ours?"
"I just came from it."
"Yeah, they're pretty proud of that bridge in this town. But just between you and me. …" She looked over her shoulder to see if anyone was listening, leaned in close, and whispered: "I think your bridge is much better."
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