It’s been cold and wet for weeks now, and the motivation to go outside is inversely proportional to the outside temperature and wind speed. But since I love hiking almost as much as I love books, I tried to use the moments between showers (and hail, and thunder, and gale force winds) to quickly sprint up another mountain track today, in the light of some serious eating to be done later for my husband’s birthday feast. All was well until I spotted an interesting outcrop of rocks in the distance, which offered a perfect view over the coastline and a nice little reading nook to shelter from an approaching dark cloud, promising an imminent shower. And a great bookstagram photo opportunity! I have reflected on the dangers of bookstagram before, and the instant suspension of any reason when it comes to the pursuit of the perfect photo. So, ignoring the rain and the wind and the slippery rock I climbed up the steep granite rock face, carefully wedging my hiking boots into small crevasses and admiring my “pretty-good-for-my-age” climbing ability. The view was spectacular! And the little rock cave just big enough to shelter me from the rain, which sleeted down horizontally, wind whistling mournfully around the rock. I sat with my little book feeling slightly smug and righteous to have braved the elements, and waited for the sun to come out.
What goes up, must come down
Hmmmm, it’s time to climb down the rock now and it’s gotten all slippery from the rain, glinting menacingly like a black ski slope, water still pouring off it from above. A stray ray of sunshine reflects in its greenish-black slick, making tiny rainbows. I test the surface with my left boot – slippery. Crap! I get down on all fours backwards (in what my yoga teacher calls the table position), searching for footholds whilst my cold and numb fingers clamp down on the granite beneath me. Still slippery! On all sides of me is sheer rock. Clouds are brewing up in the distance. My right foot finds a tiny foothold and I decide to “Go for it, sister! You’ve got this!” I shimmy down the rock backwards like a crab, my breath coming out in tense little hiccupping puffs as I imagine myself stranded on the rock, spread eagled, a news helicopter circling over me as the cliff rescue is being dispatched to save the idiot who got herself stranded on a rock in the middle of a severe weather warning. My left foot is scrambling for purchase now, and this is the moment I lose my hold on the rock. Landing hard on my butt, I find myself sliding, sliding, sliding down the sheer rock face towards the abyss. In the split seconds of my life flashing in front of my eyes, I draft my obituary:
Died in the pursuit of bookstagram.
As a bright ray of sunlight breaks through the clouds and I feel myself airborne, sailing through the air and landing – with a soft plop as air is expelled from my lungs – feet first on the soft forest floor. Staring down at the boots of a bemused hiker, who has undoubtedly watched the whole funny performance from beginning to end. Just shoot me now!
Now, reflecting rather sheepishly on my near death experience whilst trying to dry off my cold and wet (and bruised) derriere, I need to start planning how to make it sound heroic rather than foolish, to polish the near-death experience like a shiny marble to make it fit for telling around a camp fire. Because, as an ED nurse, I recognise the implications of a “just hold my beer and watch this” moment. Really, I should know better!
But wasn’t it all worth it, for this delightful landscape?