I’ve been meaning to post about this but I never seem to get around to it. In perusing my Flickr Photostream, I rediscovered my old photos from a recent trip to Canada.
This is the first part of that post.
Last year, my mom, sister, and niece came to visit our new home Vancouver, WA. After a couple of days chilling at home we drove up to the other, more well known Vancouver.
My sister, the architect of the trip, wanted to hit a couple of spots that included Stanley Park, The Capilano Suspension Bridge, and Grouse Mountain. Now, for those that don’t know me personally, I’ll get this right out; I’m terrified of heights. Well, that’s a misnomer really. I’m terrified of what happens when you fall from a great height. If I could fly under my own power then heights probably wouldn’t be as scary.
The Capilano Bridge was up first. We drove up to the parking area and headed toward the bridge area. As we walked up to the entrance, I started getting nervous. They made it seem so official and so final. As if “if you get past this point you have to cross the bridge”.
I asked the gal that was herding lines of people, “Has anyone ever gotten halfway and then couldn’t make it the rest of the way?” I just imagined myself getting halfway out there, suddenly being paralyzed with fear, collapsing into a fetal position where I would wet myself, suck my thumb and whine incoherently until being rescued by park rangers. She looked at me incredulously as if the thought was inconceivable and simply answered, “No.”
Goaded by my family, we all paid and entered the park area. It seems that my paranoia about entering the park was largely unfounded. You could pay the money to enter and actually not go across the bridge at all. I was somewhat relieved. This could be my spot to chicken out and not cross the bridge. Before I made that decision though, I wanted to take a look at the beast. The first time I viewed it, it didn’t look that bad.
In reality, this is an optical illusion. The bridge actually looks like something out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Witness a far away shot of the bridge!
Feeling somewhat encouraged by the first view of the bridge, I decided to cross and confront my fears. Upon setting foot on the bridge, the first thing that I noticed was that it swayed, a lot. Of course as a suspension bridge, this is a good thing. If the bridge was rigid, it would certainly snap in the face of mother nature but that didn’t help to allay my fears.
I steeled myself and continued. As I made my way forward the enormity of the situation (the bridge is 230 ft/80 m above the Capilano Canyon floor and has a 450 ft/150 m span) started taking hold and fear started to rush in. I could feel the blood rushing away from my face as I stood paralyzed on the span grasping both of the hand rails. I felt the bridge sway underneath my feet and imagined kids horse playing behind me and accidentally knocking me off to my death.
I considered my options. Turn around and head back leaving my family to wonder where I had gone, collapse in a pool of my own fear and urine, or keep going. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, refocused and miraculously continued forward.
I made my way slowly all the while holding both hand rails with an eagle like grip until someone wanted to pass me in which case I gripped the right hand railing with both hands and stopped moving until they passed. Although it felt like a lifetime of anguish while crossing the bridge, I reality it probably took 60 seconds to move across the entire span.
Once I was over, I felt like kissing the ground but I was exhilarated by the fact that I had faced my fear, set it aside and accomplished the task at hand. It was definitely worth it for the resulting “treetop adventure” on the other side as well as a personal sense of satisfaction.