Peregrination

Seduced by Stairs

Despite being afraid of heights, I feel an intense urge to climb every staircase I encounter. I’ve climbed stairs to walk along the ledge of the Musegg Wall in Lucerne. I climbed to the roof of the Alcazaba at the Alhambra in Granada. I took the dome tour at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City when I was in Rome. I climbed up the narrow, circular, steep, stone steps to the highest roof of the Alcazar in Segovia. And without fail, when I’m halfway up the stairs, I wonder – what am I doing? I press on to the top, and get out to enjoy the view – petrified with fear that the wind will surely blow me over the railing. I quickly snap my photos and dash the for stairs back down, promising myself that I won’t do that again! But alas, the next trip, the next set of stairs, up I go.

It doesn’t even have to be stairs – I just have a mad desire to get to the highest point – to see the most spectacular vista. I went to the top of the lookout at Clingman’s Dome – apparently I’m the only person afraid to be up there. I hiked up to a bench called “Smitten” to get pics looking down at the Rhatischen Bahn trains crossing the Landwasser Viaduct near Filisur in Switzerland. I mostly crawled along the trail, thankful that I was the only hiker there that day.

I continue to fantasize climbing mountains, living in a high tower room, or becoming a lighthouse keeper – despite knowing how much trouble this would cause me. I look at photos on the web of the world’s most dangerous hikes in Peru and China and wherever else – literally ledges hanging on the side of a sheer cliff – and drool at the thought of doing that hike. Hopefully my sanity will prevail against anything really dangerous or stupid.

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