I was afraid to start the walk. It was rated: ‘very difficult marked trail.’ I’d only done ‘easy marked trail’ up to now. From the valley floor, the sheer rock face above looked inaccessible to the humble hiker. I’ve never been a climber as I’m much too afraid of heights. But this was something I would have to conquer if I was ever to access the upper reaches of the Alps. My fear. Fear of being afraid, becoming paralysed, cragfast.
So we agreed the route: we set off; the path wound steeply but securely through the woods. There were no vertiginous drops to contend with (yet) but still I was afraid. What was I afraid of? Facing my fears! Emerging onto the cliff face and being unable to continue. Most of all I was afraid of not knowing what was coming next.
Then came the climb: the route was pegged out. The online guide described it as ‘technically difficult’ and ‘dangerously slippery when wet,’ but it was neither wet nor difficult. There was a steep drop behind but all that I needed to do was climb: focus on the ascent, and not look down. As on the hike, so in life:
So often we fear
The unknown, hidden danger:
Neither here, nor there.