Thursday, 20 August 2009

Going up. Going down.

On we all jump. Quickly. Before the pod swung away and shut its doors. We are all on: Daughter Karen with Tom and Jack, her sons, plus me. The pod swings away. Not too bad so far. The ground drops away beneath us, and because we are all cosied up in the pod I feel relatively safe. Up we go.

Five minutes or so and we land, jumping out of the pod as its doors open. Ski lift number 1 done.

A walk. Ski lift number 2. Ah. No pods. Just seats with a bar across presumable to stop one from falling out: theoretically. Not good. No queue so can't linger, thus keeping panic at bay. Feet on feet painted on the ground. Whoops. From behind comes the open chair, banging into my posterior with a thump. "Sit down NOW" it commands. "Come on Nan, it'll be alright" says Tom, settling himself down beside me and pulling the bar down.

With legs akimbo I fidget myself backwards to get more of a botty hold on the seat. Crikey. Oh crikey. The ground is dropping away fast. Too fast. Nowhere to hold on to, not really, just the bar across our chests. "Hope you've got your shoelaces tied up" I yell out to Jack, sitting with Karen on the seat up ahead. Have quick image of having to go shoe-hunting later on, his shoes having made their escape from his feet as is their natural tendency.

Up we go.

And up.....

Now up in the treetops. Now higher than the treetops. Looking upwards. Not down. Not backwards. Always looking up. Holding on. Hoping not to fall off. Joking with Tom.

"Look for the safety net" Karen calls out helpfully as we finally get near the end. 'What safety net? And anyway, why do I need to be aware of a safety net? What am I supposed to do with a safety net? Jump into it?'

But no. The safety net arrives and slips beneath our seat. Tom leaps nimbly out of the seat, me not quite so gracefully.

Off we go along the path. Happy to have the earth beneath my feet. Up in the Pyrenees we now are. On a super duper adventure. With real live ski lifts, not the pretend ones in theme parks. Wow! Photo shoot time, of the support crew. Excuse slightly glum faces. Sugar levels are low, lunch time having been passed some time back. Need to get a move on so we can eat.

Onwards we go. Et voila! This magically coloured lake, which was deserving of mystical creatures no less, appears in view.

And the glacier, seen as a small blob of white in the centre.

Eat and rest time for the older team members, the younger team members spashing about in the melt water of the glacier. Meanwhile the sun is beating hotly down on us, stetching our imaginations as to how it would be when the winds of winter blew and the landscape became transformed by the snows it brought with it.

Time up: backtracking our steps. To the ski lift we wander. Ah. Going down time.

Not so good! SSSSOooooo steep. With Jack this time.

Man oh man but this is rough. I keep smiling. Inside my heart is thumping. 'Look up' I think to myself and see the threatening rain clouds. Ooops! The ski lift stops. Then starts, but not slowly but seeming to race away as if wanting to catch up with where it ought to have been if it hadn't stopped. I don't like this. Not one bit. 'Keep deep breathing' I think to myself. Mustn't do a wobbly. It's hard. A faint sweat trickles over me. Stop. Running lurch. Stop, etc. Call up my meditation training, of breathing in rythm. It seems to stem the tide of fear that is starting to lurch in sequence to the lurching of the ski lift. But only just.

Oh so finally the end is come. I wobble out of the seat. Knees not working properly. Not to worry, on firm land again. Now a short walk to the other ski lift. This is the easy one. Into the pod we all tumble.

And I am ssssSSSSSOOOoooooo glad to be in this one!

"No more" I say to Karen, "I am not ever going to do that again. I shall walk down next time." By the time we got back to the car I have changed my mind. It was tough on me that descent. But, you see, if I say 'never again' that will diminish me no end. Because then it would be easy to say 'never again' at loads of other things.

So, I have made a vow to come back down that ski lift again at least one more time. Just to prove to myself that I can. Then I shall give myself permission to walk down off the mountains in subsequent visits. Perhaps I will, perhaps I won't, but for one more time I must go up and down in that ski lift.

Things I have learnt: That experiencing situations which puts one under duress reminds one that one is stronger than one thinks.


DUTA said...

Your adventure reminds me of mine in a chairlift in Italy to and from the volcano Vesuvium. It was frightning. I think they abolished it and replaced it with a carlift or trainlift.
Great pictures. You look radiant and so does your daughter.

Vera said...

Crikey, a chair lift up to a volcano! I thought I was brave enough to have gone on a ski lift up to ski slopes!