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Spring Gillard
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Suspending Fear

image-11A friend and I were going for a walk in nature last weekend. One of the options was Lynn Valley. The other area on the table was Pacific Spirit Park and up around UBC. I was secretly hoping it wouldn’t be Lynn Canyon Park because I did not want to be climbing any steep trails or worse, having to cross that damn suspension bridge. I have a fear of heights and just writing about those places makes my hands sweat.

We decided on UBC. We went to Nitobe Garden. It was so calming and beautiful to stroll through that traditional Japanese garden in a light west coast mist. The slightly inclement weather kept visitors away and we practically had the place to ourselves. Then we decided to go to the UBC Botanical Garden. Neither of us had been for a few years.

We arrived at the ticket booth and I flashed my student card. “That will get you admission, but not onto the forest canopy walkway,” said the agent. My heart stopped. I had forgotten that they had installed a tree top walkway. And by that I mean an aerial trail system that hangs from the trees. Very tall trees. Century old Douglas firs, Red cedars and Grand firs. My friend lit up. Yes, he nodded, let’s do it. Which is how Garden Heart found herself walking on Greenheart, gripping the flimsy railings with my sweaty palms and taking slow deliberate steps with my shaking legs.

I tried not to look down, but every time I did, I was concerned that the metal walkway didn’t seem too well attached. Of course it is, and there are very secure cables anchored to the trees, yet in a way that doesn’t harm them. There are also little viewing stations every so often, so you can stop and catch your breath for a moment. Fully immersed in a temperate rain forest in the sky, you can also ponder the question, would I survive if I fell 70 feet (or about 23 metres at its highest point)? Or ask your friend for the 10th time, how much further do you think?

It took about half an hour to creep along the 310 metres (.3 km), and thankfully, again because of the weather, there were no kids running across, or making the bridge sway as they did when I crossed the Lynn Canyon bridge. My friend loved it. He took many pictures of me; this is the only one in which I look like I am enjoying myself. Once I was back on solid ground, I did feel good about having faced my fear head on and that I lived to tell the tale.

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