The second day of our Obie reunion we decided to hike to see Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park. It was a short walk and close to the Lake Crescent Lodge where we were staying. It started off simple enough. For a prairie girl, the trees were the tallest I have ever seen. Green everywhere. Moss covered every limb. The omnipresent mist saturated everything. The hike was simple enough. We crossed a few bridges over Barnes Creek. It rained intermittently. We were sopping wet, even with our rain gear.
After the second crossing of the creek, the trail started to ascend. I don't know why I hadn't considered an ascent as part of the hike. But ascend we did. Step by step. A few times we took short breaks because it became quite steep.
We were almost to the lookout for Marymere Falls. I kept putting one step in front of the other. My heart echoing in my ear at quite a clip. I tried not to think about how I would get down because I wasn't even at the top yet.
At the top of the lookout, I realized that I wouldn't be walking back down. So my friends were just going to have to leave me. I half-jokingly shared this reality with them. They all moved into troubleshooting phase - how will we get Jen down from the Falls? There were two paths. One was the walking trail we had just completed. There were no guardrails to hold on to on the way back. The second option was a wooden staircase that was shorter but steep. I mean really steep. And it was wet. Wet meant slippery to me.
We opted for the shorter route but steeper descent.
And here's what my friends did.
They surrounded me on the walk down. Before me. Behind me. Even to the side of me (where there was no railing).
Look at the picture and my grip on the handrail. I am holding on for life.
The got me to the bottom of the steps. I was embarrassed of course, but more than that I was grateful.
Sometimes we need others to hold us when we are scared or feeling like we just can't do what we need to do.
And that's what these friends - friends for close to 30 years - had done for me.
They opted to be with me in my fear, to support me in finding a way through, and to make me feel safer by taking on some of the risk themselves. About half way down the stairs, I started to relax. I knew it was all going to be okay...thanks to my tribe.