Siyeh-Pass, Blood, and Why I am Afriad of Heights, Part II

If you haven't read Part I of this story, you should. You can find it here.

As I get older, I have become more and more frightened of heights. Actually, it is more like a totally paralyzing fear of cliffs. I won't go near them. I won't let my husband, kids, friends, or basically ANYONE get near a sheer drop off if I am anywhere around. I secretly wonder if my fear stems from my sudden urge to jump off of these deadly cliffs. That's probably part of it, but I think it's mainly due to my sister traumatizing me the second time we hiked the Siyeh-Pass trail in Glacier National Park.

A few years ago - OK, more than a few, more like 15 - my sister and and I took this epic road trip from MN to Banff. I was newly married and living in TX at the time. My husband was in Brevard, NC teaching and performing at the Brevard Music Center for the summer. Since I wasn't playing or teaching there, I was pretty much bored to death - I remember spending hours a day playing Boggle. BY MYSELF. That's pretty bored. But I digress.

My sister and I met in MN and set off to drive to Banff - to go hiking and just be crazy sisters. My sister was planning on spending the entire summer in Banff. She had this "great place" to stay all lined up.... We loaded the car with all our stuff (including a mini-fridge) and were off - only three hours behind schedule.

Our trusty wheels. (Sorry it's blurry - we didn't have digital cameras back then...)

Our trusty wheels. (Sorry it's blurry - we didn't have digital cameras back then...)

Along the way, we stopped wherever we wanted - we didn't really have an agenda.  We had a ton of fun along the way - we visited the "Worlds Largest Buffalo" and "Salem Sue" (the worlds largest cow) in North Dakota, and a slew of other random sights.

Salem Sue!

Salem Sue!

Worlds Largest Buffalo (and yes, that IS a violin on my back...)

Worlds Largest Buffalo (and yes, that IS a violin on my back...)

There were two things we HAD to get to though. We had plans to meet her then boyfriend in Glacier to go hiking, and then drive north to Waterton for a one night stay at the Prince Of Wales Hotel. It had been a long time dream of my sisters to spend a night at the Prince of Wales Hotel. We had visited there many times as kids, but had never actually stayed at the hotel. (an amendment here - apparently we stayed there as kids - I just don't remember it...)

At some random road stop along the way, my sister picked up a book entitled "Ghost Stories of the Rockies".  In the book, there was a chapter about the Prince of Wales Hotel. According to the story, the hotel was "haunted" by two women who had both jumped to their deaths from the hotel as a result of scorned love. This "haunting" was said to be of a particular room - room 207. Well, when we arrived at the hotel, we were checked into room 205... We both freaked out the entire night. I can't say we saw any ghosts, but it was certainly eerie - and there were many cold breezes through our room that night, even though the windows were tightly shut. Neither of us slept very much.

Prince of Wales as kids.

Prince of Wales as kids.

And as a grown up...

And as a grown up...

Before we spent the night at this haunted hotel, we had plans to meet my sisters then boyfriend - let's call him "Charlie" -  at Glacier National Park. We stayed at this tiny little cabin in Glacier. It was amazing. We had so much fun just being sisters - drinking wine and reading "Ghost Stories of the Rockies" by flashlight.

We had fun - until my sister made me hike the Siyeh-Pass trail for the second time. Don't get me wrong here - at this point in my life I actually kind of liked hiking! I just didn't want to go on this particular hike again.

But my sister wanted to revisit Siyeh-Pass...she wanted to see where she earned her scars and almost fell off a cliff. I totally understood this but at the same time, I had vivid memories her tumbling down the side of that mountain, and then a crap ton of blood, and an eventful trip to the ER in Canada - not something I wanted to revisit. But, she wanted to go....so I went with her.

We met "Charlie" and his friend at the trail head. The plan was to hike up the pass and see where she fell. Then she and I would hike back to the car. The boys would continue on down the other side of the pass and we would pick them up at the end of the trail.

The hike was beautiful - just like we remembered from our childhood. I remember seeing, for the second time, the amazing view that had prompted my mother to start shouting "WE'RE ON TOP OF THE WORLD!!!" I think I actually started to imitate her....because yes, I have totally turned into my mother.

Anyway, we hiked on - to the spot where the trail was about 3 feet wide - with a rock wall on one side and a plunging, deathly cliff on the other. On our way part of this 3 foot trail was covered with a 5 foot "hill" of snow and ice.... UM. WHAT???

"Charlie" and his friend hiked over it with confidence. From the other side of this very slippery slope, they encouraged my sister to hike over. She did, but I swear she was just doing it to impress the boys.... Then it was my turn. My sister, "Charlie", and his friend tried to talk me over the "Icy Hill of Death". I made it up to the top - but then made the mistake of looking down to the left - the side where there was a sheer and deadly drop-off. I felt ill - I had the urge to jump....

Instead of jumping, I quickly made my way back down the hill - and not to meet my sister. Nope. I went back down the side I had come UP. I started shouting at my sister "COME BACK! THIS IS CRAZY! IT'S NOT WORTH IT!!!". She just laughed and hiked on, telling me that she would be back in 20 minutes - she just wanted to get a picture of the spot where she fell.

I was SOOOOO angry at her. I was also TERRIFIED that she wouldn't get back to me safely. I hiked back down to the "Top of the World" spot, took out my cell phone, and proceeded to call my mom to tell her that her eldest daughter had gone INSANE and that she was most likely going to die on Siyeh-Pass. I think I may have even called my husband and best friend. OK, maybe I was just a TAD dramatic. But if you could just see this cliff, you would understand.

She did get back to me eventually. I was so happy to see her - but I was SO MAD at her. Actually, I think I may STILL be mad at her for this. I have been very wary of cliffs every since- and sometimes heights in general - or really anywhere that I may have the urge to jump, or that a tiny mistake in footing could cause me to plunge to my death....

P.S. The pictures she took of the place where she fell from didn't develop... Instant Karma?