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  1. #21
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaze556 View Post
    Happy to hear that you made it through. What was your favorite part of the trail?
    The END! Just kidding, Katahdin was amazing, Wildcat Mtn was fun, Standing under the arch and heading up the stairs at Amicolala Falls, FINALLY finishing Va..... Most of the trail was awesome. There were a few days around Connecticut where I thought about hanging it up though. Lot of days with no views, homesick, etc... but I pressed on anyway.
    - Trail name: Thumper

  2. #22
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    Climbing out of Lehigh Gap nobo is the one that scared me. Made the mistake of looking back. It took about 5 minutes to just calm down and breathe normally. You can always take the winter trail around the rock climb at Lehigh to avoid the worst of it. Haven't gone north of VT yet to make any comparisons.
    Simple is good.

  3. #23
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaze556 View Post
    yikes. My toes just curled looking at that lol Maybe the blue blaze trail around the mountain would be better for me then. How did you do crossing all of the bridges on foot?
    Bridges weren't bad at all. I liked to stop and look down and out at the water.
    Trail Name - Slapshot
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  4. #24

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    I hate heights. On a bridge like Bear Mountain I would close my eyes, hold onto the railing, and just walk.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaze556 View Post
    For my entire life ive had a horrible fear of heights.
    So long as you don't have a fear of climbs, and not just heights, the AT should treat you okay. The ladders can be challenging, and, as others have said, there are plenty of steep rock scrambles and precipices, but the next foot-hold or hand-hold is always there, always. On the AT, hiking poles get in the way a lot.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uriah View Post
    So long as you don't have a fear of climbs, and not just heights, the AT should treat you okay. The ladders can be challenging, and, as others have said, there are plenty of steep rock scrambles and precipices, but the next foot-hold or hand-hold is always there, always. On the AT, hiking poles get in the way a lot.
    I can climb on a ladder to get on the roof of my single story house fine, but I had a panic attack on my first day at work going 30-40 feet in the air in a warehouse on a cherry picker.

  7. #27

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    I would seriously suggest getting therapy to dial back the fear of heights. Some places are scary because they are objectively dangerous. But highway bridges are not. Live without as much irrational fear will be better.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    I would seriously suggest getting therapy to dial back the fear of heights. Some places are scary because they are objectively dangerous. But highway bridges are not. Live without as much irrational fear will be better.
    Does therapy for something like that work?

  9. #29
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    I have a pretty significant fear of heights, but it's worse when it's something that I don't perceive as solid. So I'm fine with rock climbing in a climbing gym, crossing normal road bridges, climbing trees, etc. But suspension bridges terrify me, and ladders freak me out a little because I can't help but picture them tipping over or sliding out from under me, even though I know it's irrational. I also don't like rickety stairs. Cliffs bother me a little too, but I'm okay if I can stay a few feet back from the edge.

    On my thru hike, the scariest parts for me were fire towers (which are totally optional, you only have to go up them if you want the view), some bridges over streams where the supports looked suspicious, and then a few really steep bits of scrambling. Lehigh Gap, some parts of the Whites, some of southern Maine, and the climb up Katahdin all got my heart pumping. I'm a lot more confident going up than coming down, probably because when you're going up, you're facing the rock and it's easy to take it one step at a time, not facing the open space and looking down. My fear of heights was compounded by my knee problems in the second half of the trail. By the end, I was really unstable on my right leg when stepping downward, so steep downhills were legitimately dangerous because my balance was so poor. We had wet weather in southern Maine and I remember muttering a lot of curses into the empty forest because I felt like the trail builders were trying to kill me. All those steep slabs of rock, with nothing but few slippery half-rotted wooden wedges bolted in to make some footholds: in the rain, it felt like a death trap. But hey, I sat on my butt and scooted on down, and I'm alive today with a thru-hike under my belt.

    Phobias are by definition irrational fears, so you can know with your brain that something is safe, and yet still feel scared. For me, it's helpful to accept that I am scared instead of feeling frustrated or embarrassed by it, but then choose to focus on the logic and statistics that indicate that it's safe, and then just try to do the thing anyway. My fear never went away, but I did get to the point where I could override it and climb that fire tower or focus on the rock immediately under my hands and feet and climb one step at a time up a mountainside. It was always a huge rush of relief when I finished a frightening part of the trail, and then a hint of pride that a chicken like me was out there, doing it. I find it's helpful, both with myself and others, to be honest and humble about the fact that some things scare me. Most hikers are pretty nice people. If they understand that you're scared, they'll be patient if you need extra time to get through a tricky spot, and they'll be encouraging when you overcome your fear. And if I try to be understanding of myself in the same way, my own attitude can be a lot more patient and encouraging than if I try to hide my fear and end up feeling rushed, panicky, and pathetic.

    Oh also FYI, McAfee's is nothing near 500 feet. The famous photo is sort of an illusion. The slope below is less than 100 feet down. I would have guessed less than 50 feet, but when a guy fell last year the news reported that he fell 100 feet. I'm still not sure if that was 100 vertical feet or if he fell and then rolled down farther to make 100 total. He lived through the initial fall but died a week later. With McAfee's there's no need to go way out onto the ledge, but even so, it's not as precarious as it looks in photos!
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  10. #30
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    I don't have a fear of heights, just a fear of falling.
    Simple is good.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by KnightErrant View Post
    Oh also FYI, McAfee's is nothing near 500 feet. The famous photo is sort of an illusion. The slope below is less than 100 feet down. I would have guessed less than 50 feet, but when a guy fell last year the news reported that he fell 100 feet. I'm still not sure if that was 100 vertical feet or if he fell and then rolled down farther to make 100 total. He lived through the initial fall but died a week later. With McAfee's there's no need to go way out onto the ledge, but even so, it's not as precarious as it looks in photos!
    from the vantage point "the photo" is taken you can't see it, but if you get yourself in the right position (which i assume includes peering directly over the edge, which i declined to do) there is actually a ledge maybe 15 feet below you would most likely land on if you were to fall, though itself is also kind of narrow. the guy who fell i would guess landed on it but didnt stay and the slid/rolled a ways. its definitely not a long straight drop of even 100 feet, let alone 500.

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaze556 View Post
    Does therapy for something like that work?
    Don't know. It might help, with the right professional.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  13. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbo View Post
    I don't have a fear of heights, just a fear of falling.
    Falling's no problem. Landing can be.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  14. #34
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    The Great Plains Trail is made for you. Long sections of the Continental Divide Trail are quite level and not frightening in any way.
    Good luck.
    Wayne

  15. #35
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    I'm not a fan of heights. I feel myself freezing and have to force myself to move on. The more I hike, the less I'm freezing, but I still have that fear. One of the more scarier sections I found was Webster Cliff trail on a windy day. I'm comfortable being about 8 feet from any edges. That day definitely pushed my comfort zone.

    Lots of slabs in Maine and NH that one climbs up. You end up feeling like a mountain goat. The fear doesn't really go away, you become more confident that you aren't going to fall to your death, because thousands of people hike that trail and don't die.

    East Bald Pate I still think is trying to kill me. I show it the respect it deserves. There's one section in the Bigelow's that's walking along and edge of a cliff, just before the summit of Avery, I think. Katahdin, as was mentioned. The fire tower on Old Speck I can't bring myself to climb.

  16. #36

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    My fear of heights caused me to yellow blaze the McAfee Knob/Tinker Cliff section. A week later, I went back and hiked it and couldn't believe how my mind created a monster that was never really there. Lehigh Gap in light rain was frightening, but the rest of the AT was doable.

    A case can be made that overcoming a fear of heights is similar to eskimo rolling a whitewater kayak. When the boar first flips, it's easy to think about how this no oxygen environment might have rocks, trees, and all kinds of 'horrible' things ready to jump out an get you. But your safest bet is to stay calm and set up that roll up and rise to safety. When ruminating personal fears, you are not setting up for a quality roll have done nothing to better your situation.

    I believe fear of heights are similar. Look only in front of you when you walk. Try to control your breathing while concentrating placement of hands and feet. The downward spiral of fear is avoided by concentrating on the task at hand.

    Lastly, hikers put a lot of work & time into achieving their goal of completing the AT. Do not let your fear of heights prevent you from enjoying a wonderful hike.
    Last edited by Recalc; 04-15-2019 at 08:13.

  17. #37

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    It is OK to have a healthy dose of fear of heights, snakes, spiders, etc. it is a mechanism meant to keep us safe. when the fear (AKA phobia) interferes with activities that for most people are not crippling, that's when you have a problem. my best advise is (A) work with a psychologist/therapist. There are methods to deal with all kind of phobias, including yours and (B) do NOT take medications, especially when hiking, you want to keep your mind sharp. Deal with the difficult sections as they come. for example, when i did the Knife Edge in PA, i was literally walking on my four. Leigh Gap is basically a boulder scramble, even if it looks scary in the picture. And if you feel that a section is beyond of what you can handle, there's no shame in turning back and find a way around it. After all, you want to enjoy your hike, no to be terrorized by it.

  18. #38
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    I get lightheaded in exposed places. Having hiked the entire AT, I can say that it's possible to work around that problem. There are a number of cliffs and rocky areas on the AT that FEEL exposed, but they really aren't Free Solo exposed. Be careful, focus your gaze on a solid place under your feet and not on the ravine far below, stay as far back from the edge as possible, and you'll be fine. When I come to a place that scares me I ask myself, "Is my fear of this little piece going to keep me from fulfilling one of my life's ambitions?"

    I can also say that repetition dulls the fear. As you get stronger, your balance and nimbleness improve. Things that used to scare you become ho hum.

    Remember--thousands of people have hiked through those difficult sections, including small children, blind people, very elderly people, people with extreme physical challenges...

    It's also true that most people find SOMETHING to fear during a thru-hike. If it's not heights, it's spiders, or being too cold/too wet/too hot..., or the dark, or bears, or snakes, or being injured, or being alone, or looking stupid, or being mistaken for involuntarily homeless, or being rejected, or SOMETHING. One of the great gifts of a thru-hike (other than being able to eat as much as you want and still lose weight) is triumphing over those fears and becoming a stronger person.
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

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  19. #39
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    I find it's a battle between my mind and the raw determination of just doing it that gets me through most tough spots. Not only the heights, but to just keep slogging along. It certainly can be a challenge to keep from doing something just plain stupid vs. just getting past a fear that may be nothing at all. "Walkin on the Happy Side of Misery" is a book that was pretty good about using this dual-personality to write about a thru hike.
    Simple is good.

  20. #40

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    Like many of us, I too have a moderate fear of heights, but that didn't stop me from completing the AT as a section hiker. Going uphill, I learned to focus on what was immediately ahead of me. Looking back while you are on a dicey section is definitely not a good idea. For me, the scariest part was the climb northbound out of Pinkham Notch. Near the top is a steep, very exposed boulder. I was happy to see rebar steps/handholds, but was not happy when they abruptly ended. I took a deep breath, proceeded cautiosly, and made it. When I got to the top, I sat down and had a long "made it" moment. Several other hikers, most younger, stronger, and taller than me, joined me in the next few minutes, and most had the same reaction.

    I have a little thing that I tell myself in tough situations (learning to drive, childbirth, dementia care for a spouse, etc.): So many others have done this, you can do it too.

    If you get to really scares you, consider waiting for another hiker to come along and offer moral or other support.

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