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Fear of heights tamed by trees
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Forsyth County News
My fear of heights is so absurd that I almost want to close my eyes while driving over Spaghetti Junction in Atlanta … almost.

There’s something unnerving about being on a bridge that towers above treetops.

It makes my throat dry as dust, and my tongue feel like leather.

But I wasn’t always such a cupcake.

In fact, I may have liked adrenaline a little too much until about seven years ago, when I flipped my first all-terrain vehicle on Thanksgiving day.

This was my first real encounter with physical pain. While it didn’t kill me, the hospital visit did sort of ruin dinner.

I was gunning the four-wheeler on our family property, which happens to be a granite rock quarry in Oxford.

Down hills, through car-sized mud puddles, and up the other side we went.

My younger cousin, Kelley, who happened to have a good 50 or 60 pounds on me, was on the back.

Not only did we flip the machine going through a particularly large puddle, I flew through the air and landed face first on a heap of granite boulders.

My cousin promptly landed on my back, and I was sandwiched between him and the rocks. I still remember feeling for all my teeth with my tongue.

Since then, I’ve toned it down.

At events like the Cumming Fair, though, enviously watching everyone enjoy the roller coaster rides from the ground, I realize I’ve toned it down too far. I fear too much.

So, a recent tree-climbing course at Sawnee Mountain Preserve was a great way, and probably the safest, to reintroduce a little adrenaline.

The course involves being attached to a pulley system with a body harness. A large friction knot of some sort is used on one rope to keep the climber from sliding down. Climbers use an adjustable foot loop to push themselves higher.

For my first course, I climbed on;y about 20 feet and lingered there for a while, forcing my self to look down or at the mountains in the horizon.

No, I’m not totally over the fear of heights. But the good thing about the course is that you control how high you want to be, and you get there when you feel like it.

Even better, the instructors are accommodating. They tie a safety knot for each climber, so that if you do somehow manage to slide, you won’t go far.

And one, four or even 12, the instructors will tie as many safety knots as you want.

Probably the most encouraging thing is that they weren’t pointing and laughing at me, which, by the look on my face, may have been warranted.

And while one course didn’t totally knock out my phobia of heights, a few more courses probably would.