Thursday, March 1, 2012

Peak Times

Casting around for a topic to write about today, I found some notes I'd made sometime ago on blogging ideas.  I subscribe to two daily Word Press newsletters and one of them had suggested writing about a peak time in your life.  And this was one of the first memories that came to mind.

A few years ago my husband and I made a leisurely trip up the Garden Route, a particularly beautiful section of the East Coast of South Africa.  Storms River Mouth was one of the stops along the way, a spectacular meeting of the river and sea, and slung between the two shores is a long suspension bridge.  At the time it was prior to my knee replacements and the long steep hike to the bridge made me pessimistic about my chances of getting there without the total collapse of the knees.

I'm an extremely stubborn person so once started on the path I refused to give up despite quite severe pain and eventually we arrived at the spot where the bridge began.  To my horror the bridge was swaying and bouncing slightly as other people walked over it.

I'm terrified of heights and water.  I can't swim, not that it would help me if I fell into the churning waters below.  I sat on a rock watching others walk across, trying to summon up the courage to take that first step.  I thought "Right, I've come this far, I can't give up now".  So holding on for dear life, I started across the plank walkway which afforded all too vivid glimpses of the boiling cauldron below.

Half way across I was swept by a feelng of utter exhilaration and joy, of being strong and invincible.  After a short rest on the far shore I began the return journey, this time feeling confident enough to snap off some pictures - one-handed of course, because I wasn't going to let go of my death grip of the rope holds.  When I got to the other side my husband was there to capture the moment and I've never felt so proud of myself as I did then.  The fact that I limped for several days afterwards was worth every ache and pain.

I was thinking about why this achievement meant so much to me and I realised that my life had become quite small and constricted for a long time, thanks to the knee problems.  The fear of pain and falling had made me reluctant to tackle anything so strenuous but I had pushed myself through it.  I'd had so few really physical challenges in my life at that stage so this was definitely a peak experience and one I will never forget.  I felt that I had experienced a small taste of the euphoria that climbers must feel when summiting a mountain. 

This was my "mountain" and I had climbed it.


knutty knitter said... [Reply to comment]

What an amazing bridge. Reminds me of one on the Milford Track which I did on my 25th birthday (plus 3 days) and that was probably my pinnacle not being known for fitness :) That was almost 30 years ago! I don't feel much older mentally but I doubt I'd make the first hut these days.

viv in nz

Lesley said... [Reply to comment]

I remember that place well too - it was beautiful and elemental! And how wonderful that you have such great pictures to remember your peak time by.

Marie said... [Reply to comment]

That bridge used to scare me silly, too.


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