Achluophobia, anyone?

This appears to be the year I chose to meet some of my fears head-on. I joined a boot camp for weight loss, traveled to New York by myself, and I’ve committed to a gondola ride (ugh! heights!).

Tomorrow, I get to see how I do with achluophobia (fear of darkness) and claustrophobia. The Cascade mountain range cuts a north-south swath through the middle of Washington State. The John Wayne Pioneer Trail bisects that mountain range, running east to west, following what used to be a railroad grade. Trains ran along this stretch from 1909 to 1980, after which it became a hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trail.

The trail is 116 miles of path used widely by cyclists. The only other option is the main highway over Snoqualmie Pass. In 2009, the trail was cut in half when a tunnel through the moutain was deemed unsafe. It took two years and about $700,000, but they refurbished the tunnel. It opened again this past month, connecting western and eastern Washington State for those who prefer non-motorized methods of travel.

The tunnel is 2.1 miles long with no lights (except the proverbial light at the end of it). Now, I sleep without the lights on at night. But going through a damp, dark, drippy tunnel like this sounds pretty spooky to me. So I’ve gathered the troops to make the trek with me. With kids and grandkids, we’ll total 6-7 people. We were originally going to hike it, but now we’ve commandeered enough bikes to cycle it. It’ll be about 6 miles round trip. We’re packing a picnic lunch to enjoy somewhere along the way (hopefully not in the middle of the tunnel).

Tonight I’ll be testing and re-testing our headlamps. And packing some extra batteries, just in case. Wish me luck! I’ll try to add some pictures after we get back.

Addendum: we’re home from the ride and it was GREAT! Only a touch of claustrophobia and some disorientation, but overall a very cool thing to do. Our 8 year old grandaughter took the lead and set a stiff riding pace through the tunnel. Here’s a couple pictures:

   Notice the dot off by itself the right of our grandaughter and son-in-law? THAT’S the light at the END of the tunnel. 🙂

posted by Laurie Ryan

15 responses to “Achluophobia, anyone?

  1. Sounds like a great time and I’m sure you’ll do just fine with the whole group there. What a fun thing to do!

  2. It could become an, ahem, annual trek if everyone likes it. Yet another reason to live close to the parents. lol (for those of you who might not know, Michal is my daughter and lives a 2+ hour plane flight away.)

  3. Good luck, Laurie. I bet you’re there right now as I write this comment. You’re a brave soul. I’m a huge claustrophobe so I’m looking forward to hearing how you do. Be safe.

  4. Ooh, now this sounds like fun and think how great you’ll feel when you’ve conquered your fears. Good luck, Laurie 🙂 Look forward to hearing how you get on.

  5. We are driving home right now. It was freaky cool. Very disorienting for the first half mile or so until we got used to the dark. I didn’t panic too much and the return ride went even better. We had a picnic on the other side. Wegot some great pix. I’ll try to load some up to the blog when we get home.

  6. DARN! I missed telling you to watch out for the GHOSTS!!!


  7. Slid that one right past you, didn’t I, Janette. I needed to focus on not getting claustrophobic. We’ll leave the ghost stories for other adventures. 🙂

  8. Glad you enjoyed it, Laurie, but rather you than me. I hate tunnels, although as you rode through it on cycles you perhaps felt more in control. 🙂

    I used to live in London and I hated going on the underground (and that has lights), sometimes even choosing to pay for a cab I hated it so much. —

    Well done!!

  9. Thanks, Jan. It was really fun. I’m glad we did it as a group, because the joking as we rode made it even better. And 8 year old Olivia loved taking the lead position. 🙂

  10. Great pics- glad you had such a great time!

  11. We did. I highly recommened doing something that’s a little bit outside our comfort zones. It was very empowering.

  12. Laurie Ryan, you set a fine example. Facing fears head on takes determination, purpose and courage. Now we know you have these traits! Is that not part of the definition of a writer? When mixed with the talent and skill you’ve already shown. Congratulations!!

  13. Great material for future books. Been missing without internet so just getting back to everything. Love the pictures and blog Laurie.

  14. Thanks, Marion. And I still have one fear to go. More of a dislike, really. I’m doing an author panel in Sumner in September. I dislike being in front of an audience. Thank goodness I’ll have 7 other authors with me.

  15. You’ll do fine at thatpanel, Laurie!


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