I ran my hands through my wet hair and leaned back on the rocky ledge to let the sun dry the droplets on my skin.
Gentle waves lapped the tiny, cliff-lined cove on the eastern shores of Lake Annecy where we’d stashed our kayak before jumping into the enticing water.
This was the moment. I just knew it.
Every adventure holiday I go on has one – a fleeting moment in time that permanently imprints itself in my mind.
I have an inner vault of these treasured memories and, when I’m stuck in the city or chained to a desk, I love to mentally re-visit them.
They bring a smile to my face, help me relax and inspire me to explore more.
But, strangely, it’s tricky to define what sets these moments apart.
There is no pre-determined list of ingredients you need to make it happen. In fact, if you try to force it – seeking out the special – it never works.
It just has to occur naturally.
Your mood, the scenery, the ambience and a certain je ne sais quoi combine to elevate the moment to a higher plane.
Other outdoors activities I’d indulged in at Lake Annecy had been top class.
Cycling the 40km tour around the lake was a great introduction to the area; hiking to the 2,351m summit of La Tournette provided views of the Mont Blanc massif and brought me up close and personal with wild Ibex; and hyrdospeed – taking on white water rapids armed only with a float and a wetsuit – was adrenaline-filled mayhem that felt a bit like being in a washing machine.
But none of these served up that one stand-out moment.
That came – somewhat surprisingly – as I sunbathed in the miniature cove and gazed out to the blue-green mass of calm water.
My travel companion Joe and I had reached the spot by kayak – a therapeutic three-hour paddle north from Doussard, the base for our seven days of outdoor adventure with Canvas Holidays
The journey had given us an intimate interaction with the lake and a new perspective from which to enjoy the visual feast of the surrounding mountains, with their lushly forested slopes and tooth-like rock-faces protruding vertically from the deep green.
But our kayaking highlight came when we explored the unspoilt coastline of the Roc de Chère nature reserve.
We paddled into the darkness of a large cave, watched small birds as they darted into their cliffside nests and then, after some indecision over the best spot, came ashore at a pebbly cove beach.
Our time out on the lake had left us weary, sweaty and in-need of a refreshing dip.
Edging carefully along a narrow shelf, I found a safe jumping platform and composed myself.
One, two, three – and I leapt.
The thrill of falling through the air was quickly broken when the cold water immersed my body.
I re-surfaced in a commotion of bubbles and splashing and laughter, intoxicated by how fun this all was, before cheering on Joe as he took the plunge.
We both floated on our backs, gazing up at the blue, cloudless sky and enjoying the escape from the sweltering sun.
A few jumps later, I’d had my fill of swimming and hauled myself onto the rocks to dry off.
And it was those first few moments on land that I’ll remember this holiday by. The water dripping down my face. The sun warming my skin. The views captivating my attention.
I blinked as rays of sunlight reflected off the lake into my eyes – and the moment was gone. Back to reality.
“Probably better get a shift on to make it back to the boat hire shack before it closes at 7pm”, said Joe reluctantly.
Neither of us moved however. We sat for another five minutes in silence, soaking up the scene in front of us, before lazily preparing to paddle home.
We set off, each stroke gliding us through the water and taking us away from the cove.
But by then I did not mind.
The experience was not over. It would live on in my mind.
So, next time I have a glazed look in my eyes or a blank expression on my face, cut me some slack.
My wandering mind will be hundreds of miles away, daydreaming I’m sitting in a cove on the shores of Lake Annecy.