So today’s “Blogtember” prompt is to share my biggest fear. As I began to type this post, a heavy sense of deja vu swept over to me. I realized that there is a good reason for this: I’ve posted about it before, the night before I hiked Huayna Picchu. Here’s what I wrote then, and don’t worry, I’ll include an update after:
I am going to confess to you that my kryptonite, the one thing that will without fail shake me to my core and induce panic and sweat, is heights. More specifically, the far of falling.
And yet I find myself in situations like where I will be today, climbing Huayna Picchu, the steep mountain that towers over the ruins of Machu Picchu. I don’t know what to expect, but reviews I’ve read online (and stories from acquaintances) have my palms sweaty already.
One review I read cheerfully described it as being similar to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. I’ve tried that hike. I still have nightmares about it. I never made it to the peak of that trail because close to the top, while holding onto chains and looking at the 1000+ foot drop next to me, I panicked. I was shaking and sweating and terrified, almost completely frozen with fear. I knew that the fear was only going to escalate, and realized that if I kept trying to push through the fear and froze with panic, I’d put us in a very dangerous situation, so I had to turn and go back. I still feel really bad about that, and I wish I hadn’t been such a wuss.
|Angel’s Landing. It looks like I am smiling, but that is my nervous “I’m going to die!” smile.
I also still get sweaty palms when I tell people my story of zip lining, when I had to slow myself down by grabbing the line with a leather mitt. I grabbed too hard out of fear and got stuck on the line, and had to pull myself along, 150 feet in the air, to the next platform. I could hear the birds of the rain forest chirping below me. Dangling precariously higher than birds’ nests is not where I like to be.
I even get sweaty palms just looking at images where people could fall. You know the famous photograph of construction workers eating lunch on the scaffolding of a sky scraper? I can’t look at it. C finally understood the extent of my fear when we were watching Die Hard one Christmas Eve, and during the scenes with the elevator shaft, I touched his arm and he felt how damp, nay, soaked with sweat my palms were while watching a scene where I know what will happen.
What can I say, I can’t control it! I’d call an irrational fear but let’s be honest; it’s pretty rational.
So we shall see how this adventure goes. I am determined to complete the hike with relatively few tears of terror.
So, obviously I did not fall to my death. I was terrified, my palms were shaky and I was on the verge of tears for much of the hike. Going down is always the hardest, and while that ancient staircase in the clouds was awe-inspiring, I spent much of the time scooting down on my butt. I’m that much stronger because of it now, and while heights still freak me out, I know that I can at least breathe through the fear.
By the way, that day on the mountain I had my phone in the pocket of my cargo pants, and cracked my screen on the staircase. It’s the only time I have ever cracked a screen (because I have never owned an iPhone, suckers!), and I think it’s a pretty legit reason for having a small crack on my S5–better than dropping it on the bathroom tile at least!