How Far Can You Fall?
How far can I fall? That’s always been my problem with heights. I don’t want to go too high, because I can see every skull-bashing rock, every back-breaking drop, from my perch at the top.
Of course, the way down is Hell.
Early in our relationship, MTM thought Vermont would be a lovely October trip. A state neither of us had ever visited. With covered bridges and brisk nights and cheesecheesecheese. Because I never met a destination I didn’t like, I agreed to all aspects of the trip.
Including the climb of Mount Mansfield, highest peak in the state of Vermont. It is 4,393 feet above sea level; 2,600 feet of elevation gain in 1.6 miles.
The difficulty of the hike didn’t even register with me. Not to mention my major problem with heights. We pulled into the parking lot at the base of the mountain, and I skipped—SKIPPED—to the trail head. I meandered through a peaceful forest and breathed in the intoxicating scent of pine.
Nothing to this, I thought.
Forty-five minutes later, as I clung to a rock with my fingernails while laughing children scooted around me, I cursed MTM. Of course, you KNEW the trail would be like this!! Why did you drag me all the way up here when you KNEW how hard it would be for me???
I looked over the edge. The peaceful forest floor was an abatis, patiently waiting to impale me. To escape that fate, I unpeeled myself from my rock, put one foot in front of the other, and freaked out the rest of the way up the mountain.
People often offer platitudes. How whatever we’re going through will make sense someday. Like that’s supposed to make us feel better in the moment, pressed to a rock on the side of a mountain, thinking we’re going to fall. I want to strangle people who say such things to me.
Until I remember what it felt like to stand on top of Mount Mansfield. I couldn’t believe I made it. I was actually alive. In one piece. It was a stand-out moment in my life.
MTM decided to take a different path to the car. An avalanche chute.
I learned I could survive falling, too. Lots and lots of falling.