Updated: May 30
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
– Sir Edmund Hillary
I looked up at the ‘Old Man’ and the seemingly endless muddy track with narrow steep steps.
“How the heck am I going to make it back down?”, I debated with myself as I danced cha-cha up and down the first few steps, inclined to abort this climb.
I have a secret fear called HEIGHT - ungraciously driven by self-knowledge of an ungifted physical sense of balance. Retrospectively speaking, I have always loved the ‘climbs’ in life. The bigger the challenge, the brighter the twinkle in my eyes. Reaching that peak, I will. It drives me. BUT along comes that sudden crash into that space of coping with nothingness... which I can do without, thank you very much.
No hiking shoes. I was not planning on doing any climbs.
I have two messed-up knees. One has been surgically repaired; marred by complications and there's a tear in the other one. Yay.
I was alone. No ‘rescue army’ to save the un-damsel in descend distress.
I AM A KLUTZ. Agility ain’t my name. The probability of Humpty Dumpty rolling down that hill is high. VERY HIGH.
IF I bust my knee(s)/leg, I would not be able to drive. I would have to sleep in the car with the ‘Old Man’ for a companion. That is, IF I could even make it to the car.
As usual, my considerations lasted very long. The only motivation needed? No ‘what if's’. The Old Man of Storr was much-raved as a must-see, must-do. After all, it was rated as a moderately difficult hike of only 4.5 kilometres and 288 metres ascent. Easy peasy.
Mid-way stop to admire the view.
“Just look towards the horizon. DON'T LOOK DOWN.”
...So says she whose hands were trembling with fear of dropping her phone.
The view from the top was certainly picturesque. While photographers leaned out at the edge (gulp!) with their snazzy DSLR mounted on tripods, modest little me whipped out my trustworthy mobile phone to capture the view.
Of course I did not look down! I faked nonchalance while I struggled to steady my shaky hands from the height and avoided the edges. At that point, I could not determine if my phone or me would be first off the hill.
Time for Humpty to make it down the hill.
Step-by step. Intentionally scanning for the safest path to take and trying to avoid those steep muddy steps. Slowly. Very slowly. And I mean so slow that I chirpily told all who were behind me, “Please go! I am not sure if I will be done by sundown.”
That was the moment I threw images aside, where looking like an idiot became the least of my concern. My focus was immense. Like a hawk. There were a couple of times I slipped but I managed to regain my balance.
It had to be that last leg. Just when I thought I was doing good, I slipped on some rock and lost my balance. Fortunately it was a straight fall to the butt but ee-yikes! I heard that familiar pop on my knee! That “oh f!” moment. Game over! I was momentarily immobilized which got me a tad bit worried. Fortunately again, I was able to stand up and my legs, though unstable, were functional.
Next came that oh-so-steep-scary-muddy-step that I had no idea how I was going to clear. I stood there staring. Just staring. A knight in no armour came to my rescue and that was that. The worst was over. I wobbled and hobbled the rest of the way to the car.