Applying the trail wisdom of: Know your limits requires beginning with that concept firmly in mind. Starting there, we’ll go here:
Please permit me to now weave those narratives together for part three.
My go-to explanation for the side effects I experience is “balance,” as in, “I’m sorry I stepped on your foot. I have bad balance.” This usually occurs when I’m climbing over a crowded row in a theater. Older people immediately understand, then graciously raise a hand to guide me by. Everyone else merely tugs back slightly on their popcorn troughs, as if the worst that could happen is my passing causes them to spill a few kernels. Tall men move the very least, likely a power/status thing. I’m often tempted to say, “Actually, sir, the worst would be me falling into your lap. Now is not the time to Alpha Dog.”
(Yes, I once fell into a stranger’s lap when I couldn’t navigate the narrows formed by his boat-sized shoes. Capsized!)
“Balance” is my shorthand for the wobbliness that ensues due to any combination of squeezing through narrow spaces, uneven surroundings (like “stadium seating” in a theater, where every row back is higher and every row forward is lower), there being nothing to hold onto, and dim lighting.
“What about during hiking?” you ask. Good question!
Going uphill or up stairs is fine, because I can lean into the direction I’m headed. Falling uphill means hitting the ground a step or two forward. Not so bad.
Coming downhill or down stairs (especially without a railing or a wall to lean on) makes me feel like Phillippe Petit between the Twin Towers. Falling downhill either means plummeting or tumbling or both. This second photo still kinda makes me queasy.
Rounding corners involves pretty much the same issue. Up and to the left? No sweat!
If I lose my balance, I’ll throw myself onto that mound of dirt. Nothing but blue skies…
The same corner, however, going down and to the right? Ugh.
That drop-off? Yikes! Go ahead and shove me over the cliff right now, please. Put me out of my misery!
Pretend you and I are hiking this path together. Here’s what you would be admiring:
Here’s what I would be focused on:
Do you mind if we please stop and rest a moment? I have something to show you. Over there, on that bench we passed.
No, silly goose! That’s a fallen tree, hanging over the side of the cliff. I mean the one in the shade of the tree to the left, up against the switchback wall.
Ah… That’s better. My dogs are really barking! Remember when I told you about Watchman Campground in Zion?
The day before our hike, I woke early, got dressed, unzipped the tent, and put my feet on the mat outside. I went to stand up while also shifting my center of gravity from inside to outside. Bad move. I lost my balance, and with the only thing to grab onto being the fragile-walled, spiky-poled tent, I threw myself to the ground. I scraped my palm, banged my wrist, hurt my ankle, and, well, this:
Sorry if you weren’t ready for that. I wasn’t either. Ha! That’s my point.
Knowing what my limitations are, I must always be thinking several “steps” ahead, which explains more about why we came back up this trail we just went down, instead of hiking all the way around the canyon on the steeper, more demanding Navajo Loop.
Don’t think I’m complaining, though, because going back over familiar ground (uphill this time instead of down) allows me to see things I missed the first go-round, like that hoodoo over there.
Wow! Any thoughts on how it keeps from falling over?