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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Snow, Hiking, and Fear



Mountainside path

The path up the mountainside is beyond steep, and today it's covered in snow. The only thing keeping me on my feet is the rusty handrail to which I'm clinging with both hands. Then I make my first mistake: I look down, beyond my boots, to the almost-sheer drop. If I let go, it looks like I'd end up in the ocean.

We're hiking in the Faroes, on one of the old paths that lead over the mountains to link the villages. Before the new tunnels and roads, this was the only connection; now, it's a pleasant route for tourists on a warm spring day.

Except it's barely spring, and we're above the snow line. I'm not used to walking in snow, and this is up to my knees in places. I'm slipping with every step. So when I see the drop to my right I freeze, literally paralysed with fear.

At this point I should mention that phobia is nothing new to me. I used to be so bad around needles that I couldn't have my teenage vaccinations. And one of the strangest things about irrational, all-consuming fear is knowing it's irrational but still being unable to stop yourself feeling it. I spent around a year seeing a very nice therapist and eventually, though the sight of a needle still terrifies me, I learnt to come out of the other side of fear and face up to injections and blood tests.

So this mountainside feeling is familiar, if no less pleasant for that. My husband is high above, taking photos, though I yell at him not to take pictures of me when I'm so scared I can't move. He offers to come back and help me. Our friends watch us, and tell me it's not far now, while quietly doubting whether I'll make it to the top. The views are worth it, they say. And while I wait for my husband to climb back down to me, I gradually begin to unfreeze my muscles. I don't feel any better, but I can move again.

It gets a little easier after that, though I can't start to relax until I'm on flat ground again, and it takes much longer before my heart stops thumping.

And the views? I'll let you judge those for yourself.

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I'm linking this post up for 'Monday Best' hosted by A Book, A Girl, A Journey


79 comments:

Toni said...

Hi Rach, what stunning views! Well worth the 'look of doom' passed your boots hehe. Good for you. And I will groan a resounding 'amen' to phobias!

Writing Without Periods! said...

Your photos are beautiful. Thank you because I've never seen this part of the world. Very nice. And you are brave.
Mary

BONNIE K said...

This is so beautiful. But I couldn't take one step up there. I have terrible acrophobia. heights do me in.

Jules said...

You're a very brave girl! My husband ges terrible vertigo so I know how bad it is to have a phobia, but like you he won't give in! Wonderful photographs, the views are stunnng!

Domestic Executive said...

Whatever the pain, it must have been worth it to see these views for real.

Chef E said...

Normally I would never use this language-

Gods grace, beauty and soul

describes those mountains, and I cannot climb due to sever asthma since I was born...I am envious, and adore you...do these things for me, and for my daughter who cannot...

Jenny Woolf said...

Amazing photos, make me want to go!

Jen said...

Looks worth it to me. Beautiful photos!

L.C.T. said...

Well hiked! Beautiful photos :)

Mrsbear said...

OMG those are absolutely spectacular. You have my utmost respect for urging your muscles to move, I might still be stuck on those steps, frozen with fear, white-knuckled grip on the hand rail. What a fantastic payoff in the end, but yes, flat ground, I'd be kissing it...repeatedly.

Elizabeth Braun said...

Rachel, I would have felt EXACTLY the same! I'm not very steady on my feet and am quite easily unnerved, so I really admire your persistance here. I probably would have done something similar myself, but I know how much it takes to do... Recently we went up a scary thing like that in Taroko Gorge, which I must post about soon on 'Made in Taiwan'.

Did you and I meet through my language blog? I just saw a comment from you on an old post. I've actually updated today and, as a linguistician, I would be interested in your thoughts on my post about Esperanto etc. I really want to get that blog going more and build up more readership....

http://ALittleAdrift.com said...

Congrats on moving past phobias and doing that hike - the photos are simply stunning!

WhiteSockGirl aka The Fabulous Bitch said...

You are brave. And a little insane in my books. I don't think sane people would do that. I could never, ever! It looks so cold. But, the pictures are insanely GORGEOUS!

ladyfi said...

I'm used to snow, but not uphill like that. Terrifying. Especially carrying a camera.

But wow! The views are stunning!

Ginny Marie said...

That view is breathtaking! Wow! I'm not sure I would have been able to make it up there, though. I had the same paralyzing fear on a ski slope, and my husband had to help me all the way down!

Natalie | The Bobby Pin said...

Wow, amazing! Beautiful photos!

Sharlene T. said...

Beautiful pix! Thanks for sharing. I'm so jealous...

Sarah (Chez Lee) said...

Thanks for a gripping read with a very worthwhile outcome! Absolutely magnificent views! Well done on making it - and in one piece!!!

Louiz said...

Amazing views! And I share your phobia and am impressed by your bravery.

Elle said...

Way to push past your fears! And, you were rewarded with stunning photos and memories that will last forever. Your bravery and strength are indeed inspiring!

rinth1989 said...

OMG, those are so beautiful! Thank you for letting us see them.

But I can understand why you were scared. I would have been absolutely terrified. Still, it sounds as if it was a wonderful and unforgettable hike.

I hope that I don't seem too ignorant, but I don't even know where the Faroes are. What country, what part of the world?

P.S. We all have irrational fears. Needles don't bother me much, but horses scare me. I don't know why.

Jackie said...

You're so brave! I've have a terrible fear of heights. The view is absolutely stunning. I'd definitely like to visit a palce like that.

Real Live Lesbian said...

Absolutely amazing views! Looks like it was worth EVERY step. I'd still be shaking if I'd done that climb!

Mary said...

Those are views that will last a lifetime in your memory. Congratulations on overcoming your fears and making the climb. Have a fabulous weekend. Blessings...Mary

xoxoKrysten said...

Wow those pictures are absolutely amazing! I'm not sure I'd be able to do that but what awesome views!

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

Beautiful photos but, I'm glad you took them and not me. You are very adventuresome!

Sarah said...

Fabulous views, Love it! Very daring. Thanks for your comment on my How Shallow Are You? post http://bloggerchixdesigns.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-shallow-are-you.html . I came to check out your blog template. Love it! Very nice. Monday we're talking about goals, if your interested in coming by and sharing some of your blogging goals. That would be great. Thanks! Sarah
Blogger Chix Designs
http://bloggerchixdesigns.blogspot.com

Kirsty said...

wow...there's no way you'd get me hiking, let alone in snow up a bloody great big cliff, but i'm very glad that you went the extra mile to show me what i'm missing. your photos are stunning, as per usual!

Nes said...

Damn you're good. :)

I just stumbled upon your blog and I'm impressed! Your travels and photos are really inspiring. Keep it up!

-Nes, fallenfromthestars.blogspot.com

Midday Escapades said...

Wow, I've always wanted to visit a place like that. I'm so impressed you hiked up. Way to go on conquering your fear!

just another Belle said...

amazing. my first thought was "I would/could never do this!" how did you get into this kind of traveling? and where do you live that this is just a "weekend break?"

nowimagrownup said...

Gorgeous!!! What breathtaking views. I imagine it was quite an experience.

smilla4blogs said...

Beautiful photos and Flickr stream too! I found you in the group "Flickr Sisters" !

Bells said...

such bravery! Such beauty! I love this post.

Holly said...

The views are spectacular. My friend climbed Half Dome in Yosemite and her description sounds similar, minus the snow.

Mary at Deep South Dish said...

Stopping by from SITS for your Feature Day!! Wow. Wow. That is just simply spectacular. I saw the Everest film at the IMAX and that's about as close as I'll ever come to a climb!

Julie at ModernDayMiddleAge said...

Wow! I am paralyzed with fear just reading about it ... I could NEVER! Good for you, sister.

Good luck with your Life List, btw. Looks like you have your work cut out for you. I think I need to make one!

Happy SITS Day, too!

Debbi said...

Oh wow! I was scared for you. I'm pretty sure I stopped breathing while reading that! I'm glad you made it to the top. Those photos are amazing!!
Happy SITS day!!

The Snee said...

Happy SITS Day! Your description of hiking made me laugh since I've experienced such frozen moments myself. Great writing and humor to sweeten the read!

pixielation said...

The shots from the top are lovely, but I totally adore the first photo - the one of the path. What a brilliant photograph.

And well done, what a great achievement!

Cheryl said...

Amazing views. I'm just going to toss out a wild guess here, but you made it down safely? Down would scare me more than up.

Christine Lucas said...

Wow, and sometimes I say things like, "I don't FEEL like walking down to the park." Views like that certainly motivate one to shake things up a bit. Congrats on the courage!

Rachel said...

wow! you are so lucky! im going to vietnam soon. im sure it will be nice, but not as nice as this!

panamamama said...

How brave! Beautiful pics too. Happy SITS day!

LisaDay said...

Those are some fantastic views. Congrats for conquering your fears.

Happy SITS day.

LisaDay

Kelly said...

Happy SITs Day!

These pictures are amazing! Totally worth it - I'm glad you "faced your fear" and made it to see this!

Jenny said...

Where are the Faroe islands? Those photos are amazing! I'm so glad you made it to the top!

Stopping by from SITS! Happy SITS day to you. Have a great one!

thatgirlisfunny said...

Bravo! I get wobbly knees just thinking about being on the edge of a precipice. Congratulations! And thank you for sharing your photos of a place I may never get to see. Reading about your experience makes it real for me :D

Liza said...

Wow, those views are unreal. That's awesome that your husband does that stuff with you, too. My husband and I? Never make it. I don't even think we'd start. But we would definitely have really great hot chocolate waiting for you when you got back.

Happy SITS Day!

Heidi - D said...

Happy SITS day!!! BEAUTIFUL pictures in your post... And I gotta tell you - I was feeling tense FOR you when I read about your predicament!

http://itsjustmeheidid.blogspot.com

gringationcancun said...

Amazing views! Did you take those pictures?

I've never seen anything like that before.

♥ Becky ♥ said...

WOW girl you definitely have guts. Don't know that I could actually do that. I would like to think that I would at least try but my HUGE fear of heights might prevent it.

The views.....DEFINITELY worth it. Absolutely beautiful pictures!!

Happy SITS Day!!

Miranda said...

Those mountains are gorgeous! Simply stunning, really. Happy SITS day!

Kaylen said...

I had slight heart palpitations just reading this!!! I don't understand how you came back DOWN though!!!! Maybe you are still up there and just blog from the top. Because really, going up is nothing compared to going down -you actually have to look down and see how far up and how treacherous it is...yikes!

The pictures are amazing!!!

Joann Mannix said...

Congratulations on your SITS day, Rachel.

How impressive! I'd say it was well worth conquering your fears. Good for you.

And my eldest daughter, (19) is hugely phobic of shots. One time, she ran out of the doctor's office and started running home, when she realized she was getting a shot. The doctor went after her and got her back in.

Congratulations again on your SITS day and conquering your fears.

Miz Dinah said...

Wowzers! What a view! I bet it was worth the climb.

Ramblin' Red said...

I can totally relate to the fear...2 years ago my husband and I hiked my first 14'er in Colorado and it was one with portions where the trail consisted of loose bouldery rocks, so footing was tenuous at best. I don't mind heights, but I do prefer to have solid footing beneath me while standing on a cliff 2 miles high!

happy SITS day!

Angie said...

Wow! I probably couldn't have done it. Props to you, Rachel! Just looking at the views (beautiful, btw) makes me a bit dizzy.

Amber Page Writes said...

I would say those photos were totally worth it - not sure I would have made it though.

MarieSam said...

Great photos!!!!

Midwestern Mama Holly said...

Beautiful scenery and kudos for your hiking abilities. Ive tried it. Miserable fail. Still nursing the wounds.

Holly
http://midwesternmamah.blogspot.com/

Come visit me sometime

Hanneke Nelson said...

Worth it! But I feel your fear...

Happy SITS Day! Enjoy the comment love today.

Carrie K said...

Woah, woah and WOAH! Thanks for sharing!
-CK

Rachel said...

Beautiful! Absolutely beautiful.

A Mom Writing said...

I'm so glad that your SITS day has led me to your blog! What an amazing hike. I'm a backpacker, and I'd LOVE to get up there and see that view. Kudos to you for braving the snowy trail-- it looks a little intimidating to me. Stop on by sometime: http://amomwriting.blogspot.com

Zeemaid said...

WOW! Gorgeous photos! So glad you conquered your fear to see the view.

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

The views are splendid! I don't know that I'd want to be hiking up a snow covered mountain though. I don't like being cold. Glad you made it!

Congrats on your SITS day!

Michele said...

I'm visiting and now following from SITS. And my toes are tingling at the sight of those pictures. I am VERY afraid of heights, so something like that I would love to see, from the bottom. Congrats on making it way further than I ever could have done!

Mrs Dreamer said...

Swinging by from SITS.

The pictures are gorgeous! But I'd be quaking in my boots as well. I don't like heights or the feeling that I'm going to drop off the face of the earth!

christine said...

I'm with Cheryl - the down trip would scare me far more than the up! Do you remember beginning to walk up the outside stairs of a windmill down Norfolk way? Daddy made it, but both of us chickened out - cluck, cluck:-)

Erin said...

I am so impressed! I could never have done that. The views are inspiring, but I can't handle heights like that.

On another note, I used to be terrified of needles, too. That fear seemed to be easier to handle, so I decided on my own to begin donating blood as a means of desensitizing myself. It worked. Good thing too, because I ended up needing IVF (in-vitro) to conceive my children years later.....which means LOTS and LOTS of needles and injections, plus tons of other stuff.

You conquered your fear and you are incredible! (p.s. found your post on the Red Dress Club site)

Alice Braga said...

These are spectacular images, Rachel. I'm so glad your 2010 review brought me to it.

Tori said...

Beautiful pictures! I love dizzying heights, but someday I may have to conquer my own phobia of swimming in open water. Doubt the pictures will be quite so lovely, though ;)

Michelle said...

Glad I found this post on Monday's best! My husband has coaxed me into too many harrowing places to count, but it is always worth it in the end! Now I have to just not look as our little ones scurry places I would never dream of going...

Jen said...

What an amazing story! I would be just like you quaking in my boots. I did a hike once in Zooms national park called angels landing. The last part of the climb looks an awful lot like your picture only it's just a chain. I still made though after some hesitation. Thanks for joining Monday's Best!

Jen said...

Ha ha I meant Zions, dang auto-correct on my phone ;)

Joyce Lansky said...

Gorgeous scenery! I used to be afraid of needles too. That's a tough one to get over because no matter what anyone says, shots hurt; however, I'm a lot better with them than I used to be too.

Joyce
Catch My Words
http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

Chasing Joy said...

These are beautiful pictures. But the beautiful part of the story is when your husband came back to help you and you could feel yourself being able to move again.

That is what I am looking for in a relationship. A man who will come help me get to the top especially whn I am afraid.

Thanks fr linking up for Flashback Friday. Link up every Friday on www.chsing-joy.com

Michelle Nahom said...

Gorgeous views but I can also see why you'd be a nervous wreck too!!

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