Even sheer terror is exhilarating when stunning vistas are the hiker’s reward
Published in Grand Magazine, May/June 2014
“The path down from Malmangernuten, our summit of the day, was so steep I had to turn sideways, right or left, and slowly select every footstep. I feared if I gained too much momentum I would topple over, unstoppable, on what could be a brutal downward tumble. The path wound tightly, side to side, so I was constantly alternating which tired, quivering leg would make the next step.
The glacial river, just one metre to my left, thundered and pounded wildly so it was impossible to hear even the pouring rain on the new spring leaves. The ground was slippery with thick mud made even more treacherous by the hikers who had already descended the trail. Then add rocks, branches, roots, boulders and half-metre drops in terrain.
Thirty minutes into the descent, my anxiety had built from the strain of intense concentration, the driving beat of the river, the constant threat of losing my balance. I stopped on the uneven ground and took in the distance to the valley floor. A few deep breaths should have steadied my nerves, but they didn’t.
With no hikers visible in front or behind me, I gulped in another deep breath and let out a long, fierce scream into the driving rain.”