It is time to speak of my fear of walking on slippery rocks. I found out about this fear when hiking a Peruvian mountain in Huascarán. There were moments where we had to walk through streams, and I was fine for the first few, but it was quietly making my anxiety grow inside. At one point, I was standing on a rock and froze. I felt like I could not continue. I did not want to take a step onto the next rock. As you may have guessed, I started to cry. I felt defeated. I was able to continue only after the tour guide took a hold my hand to get me down. When we approached other wet rocks, the tour guide or my cousin instinctively took my hand.
This fear can be explained: I once slipped from a waterfall in Jamaica and had to hang on for dear life (at least it felt this way). I was able to pull myself back up and complete my ascent with no injuries, but I guess some fear resides and is with me out in the field.
Above is an example of pinnacle rock that I come across when I’m doing field work in Everglades National Park (I mentioned these in my previous post: The Everglades to Myself). I prefer to call is exposed limestone because it is more descriptive of what it is. Pinnacle rock is used to describe any pointed stone or rock—I will also use it in this post. This pinnacle rock was forgiving. Although the holes where grass is sprouting out are around 2-3 feet deep, I could see where I could step on without falling into them.
Other areas with pinnacle rock are not as forgiving. In the photo above you can see the pinnacle rock on the bottom half, but can you see it at the top of the photo? Sometimes pinnacle rock is covered by the grass growing from the bottom of the hole. If it is thick enough, the grass clump will hold your weight. Other times you can feel your foot falling into a hole and your body’s balancing instincts kicking in. My weight shifts to the part of my foot that is on rock and my other foot quickly steps somewhere safe (although I feel lucky that my other foot has always found a safe spot to land on).
Below is the exposed limestone looking more like the description of pinnacle rock. In these instances, I carefully place my foot between the crevices if they are close enough together, or if they are spaced like in the photo, I walk on the muddy parts.
Pinnacles are not bad news for everyone. There are times the pinnacle holes are large enough that I do not feel safe reaching my leg over–I feel safer stepping into the holes. The water reaches above my knees, but at least my feet are on the ground. In the areas where there are pinnacle rocks, water is held above ground creating ponds for fish, frogs, and turtles and lilies, like the one below. I intended to get a photo of a turtle for this blog post but it swam away too quickly, and as I approached another one of these ponds, a frog leapt away from me.