–by G.K. Sydney (photos and column)
AC . RO . PHO . BI . A noun, extreme or irrational fear of heights
This hike with my energizer husband is going to kill me. He hikes like a thirty-year old, goes ahead assuming I’m right behind him and can go all day with barely a stop. On he goes and would like me to follow up to the very edges of cliffs. But even the dictionary can tell you what I have and that I can’t help it. Acrophobia, there, see, it’s simple. I have a fear of heights. Ac…ro…pho.. bi..a. Easy.
And even though it’s sometimes difficult for me, Jim is actually amazingly patient with this girly-girl condition I seem to have. He assists me whenever possible, waits while I curse and panic at edges and high cliffs and never, ever says what he’s really thinking.
What a perfect (and smart) husband. But I digress.
Before I get to the actual story of today’s hike and the problems we (I) encountered, I’d like to interject with the following information. I’ve decided my fear of heights seems quite normal compared to some of these:
- Coulrophobia – a fear of clowns. Ha, that means I should be afraid of half the people I know.
- Dysmorphophobia – a fear of ugliness. Well, what’s to say about that?
- Socmephobia – a fear of social media. Geez, that would be tough.
And the two worst ones of all – spectrophobia, the fear of mirrors (this one is becoming normal too but it’s not too bad if the lights are low and the curtains closed) and, heaven forbid, telephonophobia, the fear of telephones. That one would truly kill me.
Anyway, all of that makes the fear of heights seem not so bad and therefore going for a hike along the ocean should be a nice experience.
And that is why this article is called True Confessions. I’m going to confess that when we hike in places where the path gets close to the edge, or where I have to look down a long way to see where we’ve come from, I’m not happy. I’m not only not happy, I’m downright panic-stricken. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, akin to wearing something that’s too tight on a hot day or being in front of an audience and forgetting your lines. Sometimes I actually experience real heart-thumping anxiety and could freeze at any second. It’s bad but the good news is, it’s only momentary. It just lasts a second because the next turn gets you away from the edge. And so, on we go.
Not that we knew this was going to happen today. We really didn’t. Most of the hike was as fantastic as usual, just like all our other hikes. Great scenery, amazing rock formations, gorgeous ocean. Wow. What a place to experience. The East Sooke Regional Park is unbelievable.
But then we climbed up a giant rock face only to find this on the other side:
Hmmm. Well, I was told that this sign existed. I was also told that, if you are careful, there’s no real danger. Okay. We’re careful, we’re smart, we’re cautious. Onward ho.
From that point on, the path became a not-path most of the time. It wove and rose and dipped and peaked and became almost impossible in places. Thank heavens for hiking boots and omigod for the places where the path went right on the edge of a cliff. Pretty soon it seemed that was happening over and over again. We would climb over giant roots and up the faces of huge rocks and then suddenly, we were right on an edge again. To my horror, the path would just be inches away from a fall, a slip, and what seemed to me, (with my “extreme and irrational fear of heights”), a disaster. Why do they let poor innocent people do this? Why aren’t the warning signs more adamant? Why don’t they say, Hey stupid, don’t go any further! But oh no, we did and here we are.
But, we perservered and lived to write about it and so I guess, in the end, the day was good.
It was more than good, it was spectacular. Another day in paradise with only a few nerve-wracking setbacks, in this amazing place we’ve chosen as home.
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