Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer in Montana: The Hike of Shame

It might tell you much about the exciting life I lead as a blogger that even while this was happening, I handed the camera to PellMel so I could have photographic evidence and write it up later.  :-P

So, when our hike got cut short the other day due to bear activity, we decided to do part of another nearby hike.  I think I've told you before that I'm afraid of heights (see #7 here, for example).  The beginning of this hike is next to a 120-foot drop down to a busy road.  It's terrifying--to me.  Not to anybody else in our crew.  But I did it several years ago, so I thought it was going to be OK.

But no.  We got about 50 feet out and I started to panic.  Dean did his best--walked next to me on the drop-off side of the trail, coached me through it, offered to hold my hand (me:  but then we'll BOTH GO OVER).

Finally we had to turn back.  I felt like an idiot.  It's not that bad--the trail is about 6-8 feet wide, and as you'll see in the pictures, there is a heavy-duty cable covered by a garden hose that is bolted into the side of the mountain.  Although in my defense, I didn't turn back until we got to the end of the cable.  The cable ended because, my family pointed out, the dropoff isn't as steep at that part.  But it was still pretty damn steep and my stomach was having none of it.  Or maybe it was my phobic brain.  Or something.  anyway, here are a few pictures, including one of me where I ducked under the cable and tried to smile in a brave, plucky way.

This is looking back just before I gave up and we turned around
Look close--you can see the garden hose in the upper left--that's the trail,
then the drop off down to the road

PellMel took this one just by pointing the camera down.
The garden hose-covered cable is on the right, and that's a bit of
the road a hundred feet down on the upper left

See how brave I look?

MadMax and PellMel, clearly NOT BOTHERED by the height
-and behind them the ongoing trail with no cable and oh, yeah, sure, less steep sides

You know, it just doesn't look that scary when you see it in pictures.  But I was terrified.


  1. Hey, I sympathize! I don't like trails that simply drop off (or diagonal off) for long distances! I just don't do hikes like that anymore (or things with a lot of elevation gain, for that matter). I'm afraid to get close to edges of canyons or tall buildings for fear that I'll fall, or feel compelled to simply throw myself off. I would probably have done the same as you, or even more likely, looked at the trail and said "nope". At least you tried!

    1. We did one with lots of elevation gain yesterday and I think I would have been smarter to stay home! it did have amazing views, though, so a few days from now when my knees stop aching I will probably be glad I did it.

  2. I once nearly passed out - legs refusing to move - after we'd climbed to the top of a fire ranger tower. It was easy going up, but before we started down I looked through the grated metal that served as steps and totally lost it. At one point, I think Tim actually moved one of my legs for was that bad.

    1. I had a similar experience on one of those step-pyramids in Guatemala. I practically had to crawl down. It didn't bother me at all on the way up. It's so completely irrational, it's a very strange feeling.