Tuesday, June 14, 2011

exposure therapy

Last week I announced that I was going to suck it up and make it to the top of Trail Ridge Road. Being a known acrophobic (yep, I am terrified of heights), my husband humored me and nodded his support. I pumped myself up, giving myself speeches all morning. In the shower, over breakfast, in the car.

“It’s just like any other road. You won’t drive off a cliff and plummet to your demise. The speed limit is so slow! If you are in control of the car, you will feel safe.”

About a quarter of the way up, I started to panic. There were moments where the edge of the road just came a little too close to a steep decline. I had to stop and catch my breath. I told my mom “I don’t know if I can do this.” She urged me on, I continued, but I could feel my confidence slipping from my grasp and when we reached Rainbow Curve, at 10,875 feet I pulled off at the scenic overlook. My hands and feet were tingling. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was starting to feel faint. I got out of the van and crouched on my hands and knees, needing to feel the safety of solid ground.

After a few minutes I recovered myself enough to get Amelie and my nephews out of the car to have a look around.

The scene was hazy and there was obvious smoke in the air from the huge fires in Arizona.

A park ranger took a picture of the five of us.

I wish I could say that I went on and made it to the top but I didn’t. I turned that van around with my tail between my legs, thanking god that I was now hugging the mountainside and couldn’t see over the edge. Here’s how deep the snow was on that side of the road, despite the 78 degree day.

The pine beetles have made their way over the divide, spreading the copper brown of dead trees throughout the once-green forests.

We stopped at the Alluvial Fan to give ourselves some time out of the car. The Fan is the aftermath of an incredible flood, caused by the breaking of a natural dam in 1982. 29 million gallons of water came rushing down the Roaring River, sending giant boulders and trees downstream. Here's what it looks like today.

On solid ground, I was so happy to be alive.

Amelie's first hike.

We felt like real tourists as we stopped to photograph elk on our way out of the park.

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