What better way is there to push yourself out of your comfort zone in terms of physical exercise, fear of heights, anxiety around people, and do something you’ve never done before, than climbing a mountain?
Admittedly, the mountain I ended up climbing was not the one I had originally intended, and, as with Weekend Challenge #2, I wasn’t alone, but what an experience it was!
Thankfully, this Challenge was completed early in the morning, when my energy levels were high and not already depleted by the outside world. I went into it with a positive attitude, and no doubts about my ability to complete it. A little anxiety did kick in when we arrived at the parking area and found it packed with cars, but I was looking forward to making it to the top so much, my fears didn’t inhibit me in any way.
My daughter had climbed this mountain before, and told me about her previous experiences as we began the walk. Our pace was steady – more than a snail’s pace, but not full speed either. I was expecting to find the physical exertion difficult, but was pleasantly surprised to find shortness of breath my biggest problem, although vertigo did kick in a little as we neared the peak, but I think that had more to do with my fear of heights than anything else.
This fear went into overdrive on the last few metres of the climb, where there is no path, just large boulders that you have to scramble over. I knew I could get up, but I also knew trying to get back down would terrify me. But, up I went, and the view and sense of accomplishment definitely outweighed the fear of tumbling over the cliff face!
On both the ascent and descent, there was a constant stream of people. Smiles and hellos were all about, although for me it was much easier to make eye contact, smile, and say hello to people on the way down – perhaps because of the high of having made it to the top. While it is natural for some people to say hello to strangers as they walk past, many didn’t, so from about halfway going back down, I set myself a mini challenge to engage with as many people as possible. My daughter and I were laughing so much by the time we reached the bottom because she was amazed at how many people walked past her without saying anything, but said hello to me a few steps behind her, even one person who was engrossed in his phone, and was headphones and sunglasses said hi as he went past me! My theory is, people are more likely to say hello if you make eye contact and smile – a theory I’m not sure my daughter agrees with.