I sometimes say that I’m scared of heights but it’s not totally accurate. I don’t mind being high up. You get great views and there’s normally some good stuff up there, like lakes and waterfalls. What bother me enormously are sheer drops. Sheer drops and narrow paths.
I’ve properly frozen twice on this trip so far - both times just outside Poupehan in France. The Gorges du Verdon and the Camino de Santiago are coming up soon so I expect that number to increase exponentially in the next few weeks.
We’ve managed my abject cowardice in a few ways so far.
Lots of planning
Before we start a walk, we always spend some time looking at how hilly the area is and how wide we think the paths are. If we have a choice between the valley or the mountain, we almost always choose the valley.
Even when we’ve carefully planned our route, we can’t always predict when there’s going to be a bit of the walk that massively freaks me out. Sometimes when this happens, Tom scouts out the path ahead and comes back with a report on how long it’s likely to be hideous for. Then I can make a decision about whether I can carry on or not.
The pack mule
If we do stay on a difficult path, Tom normally takes the water and - if it’s really bad - my backpack, so I can use my hands and bum if I have to. This approach is very undignified and I normally have at least one tantrum in the process. Tom is - as always - unrufflable in these situations.
We don’t like turning back. One of our most hated - and overused - phrases on the trip so far has been: “We just have to go back on ourselves a bit.” But sometimes it can’t be avoided. When the path is too much, I always ask if we can turn back. Luckily, most of the time, there’s an alternative route.