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